First things first I know a lot of jaded horror readers have long ago written off the Vampire genre as overdone and lame. Not me, as a genre I think vampires are wide open for thousands of paths but the novels do require a fresh spin. The only genre I was afraid to read before was the zombie novel. Don’t get me wrong I love Romero Zombie movies, hell I loved Land of the Dead a movie that many zombie fans were let down by.
The most interesting looking zombie fictions to me in the past were the books that subverted the genre. The Rising by Brian Keene and Cell by the King are not exactly Romero rules, this statement coming from a guy who hated idea of running zombies when I heard about it. So obviously I have mixed feeling about zombie novels. I finally swallowed my pride and watched the Dawn of the Dead and found running zombies were pretty scary looking. So could I be wrong again? Are zombie novels a good thing?
After my first read I’d have to say hell yeah!
Permuted press who put out this very nice looking trade paperback has in the last few years built up a reputation for putting out so many zombie books in the last few years it reminds me of the scene in Day of the Dead when the front gate is opened to the bunker. They have done a similar thing to the independent horror fiction market.
I have to admit if I wasn’t sent a review copy I would probably have never read this book, so let me say I am glad to have had the experience. It is a short but effective novel that lives up to the publisher’s promise of a thinking person’s zombie novel.
A novel true to the Romero style could do no less and perhaps the best thing I can say about Paffenroth’s first novel is that I could see it fitting in nicely with the original dead films.
The novel is a first person narrative seen through the eyes of Jonah a college professor turned zombie apocalypse survivor who finds a small community living in a museum. While I didn’t really connect with the narrator I enjoyed side characters like Popcorn and Milton a lot for reasons that should not be spoiled.
Pafferoth is a professor himself in religious studies and uses his knowledge to weave deep themes without a heavy hand. Dying To Live is an intense work peppered with chilling moments – one that impressed me was Jonah stopping after braining a zombie to look through his wallet. That was perhaps my favorite moment.
While I don’t think huge amounts of new ground were broken this book is a must for zombie fans. It also was good enough I intend keep checking out permuted’s releases.
7 stars out of ten.
For more about Permuted press...
Next review I Will Rise by Michael Louis Calvillo
Upcoming posts about the motor city madmen, Jet Li stuff, and Sawn Song Vs. The Stand