book review: kim paffenroth – dying to live: life sentence

February 9, 2009

Dying to Live: Life Sentence
Kim Paffenroth
Permuted Press, October 2008
212pp, paperback, $14.95US

Twelve years after the end of the world, the survivors have come to a certain peace within their compound. They found other scattered groups of survivors who had barricaded themselves in various defensible places. These became part of their community. They’ve claimed some of the houses, the school, and a few other buildings. They’ve created farms for growing their own food. With no real form of government, they did have few rules and created certain rituals and such to help guide them through their changed lives. They even have created unique ways of dealing with the undead. And above all else, they live their lives with as much ‘normalcy’ as they know how.

Life Sentence is written as journal entries from two very different points of view which with certain inevitable eventuality collide together. One is Zoey, twelve years old on the threshold of her adulthood; her piece is written as the adult Zoey looking back at that time in her life. The other is one of the zombie ‘survivors’ who’s able to read and write and through the course of the story learns who he was and who falls in love!

Paffenroth’s writing is intelligent, poignant, and in more than one instance brought tears to my eyes (but I won’t give any spoilers!). The parallels drawn between the survivors and the zombies is chilling and makes one think. A few scenes are a bit graphic but necessary to drive the plot forward; even so, these scenes are well written and well carried. It is a pleasure–and a fright–to see the world after the Dying to Live: A Novel of Life Among the Undead apocalypse, to see it through the eyes of the survivors, to learn how they’ve molded and adapted to their new world, to witness the horrors they experience in order to endure.

Kim Paffenroth maintains a blog at Permuted Press is on the web at