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Dying to Live (Dying to Live #1)

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  2,962 Ratings  ·  144 Reviews
A lone survivor in a zombie-infested world, Jonah Caine wandered for months, struggling to understand the apocalypse in which he lives.

Unable to find a moral or sane reason for the horror that surrounds him, he is overwhelmed by violence and insignificance. Then Jonah comes across a group of survivors living in a museum-turned-compound. They are led by Jack, an ever-practi
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Pocket Books (first published April 1st 2007)
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Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to dip their toe into zombie horror
I'm always a little hesitant when picking up a zombie book. I have this fear that, like their celluloid cousins, the vast majority of them are crap. And unlike their brain-dead cousins, they waste more than 90 minutes of your life.

I had no need to fear with this book.

My love of all things zombie really began with Romero's take on the subject. I really liked the fact that there was a deeper social meaning behind the gore. There was a message and a warning.

This book took everything I loved about t
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To my knowledge modern civilization has never been overrun by hordes of the flesh eating undead. However, after reading Kim Paffenroth's Dying to Live: A Novel of Life Among the Undead, I'm beginning to wonder if there might indeed have been a period where just such a horrendous thing happened. Paffenroth's ability to transport the reader deep into the dark, desiccated remains of a world where humanity clings to a perilous thread of existence and zombies, spawned of a mutated virus, wander the s ...more
Dustin Reade
Jun 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I rarely give one-star reviews, but this book just did nothing for me.

dumb. somehow, despite having all of the elements I like in a book (zombies, gore, blood, etc.) this one never really worked for me. I suffered through it because I don't like leaving a book unfinished. But I wish I wasn't like that, because I wasted my time with this one.
It is all rehashed zombie stuff that I have already read and seen done better elsewhere.
Plus, the theological stuff bugged the crap out of me. I didn't reali
Feb 12, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It started off with promise but ended up being a huge waste of time for me. I didn't think it was very original. It read like a number of other zombie books that I've read over the past four months.
Olivia R. Burton
I went into this book extremely excited because I'd read lots of good things about it and it had been recommended to be several times. Honestly, the book had potential that it didn't live up to because it wasted a lot of time with juvenile writing. I honestly believe that, if the author had stepped away from the first person narrative (first person perspective often kills a good idea, unfortunately), and hacked out a lot of the unnecessary exposition, this could have been a five-star book. The s ...more
Kate Lansky
This book just did NOT work for me on so many levels. First, on the plot, almost nothing felt original. The only thing I truly loved was the setting of survival, a small town museum. If I had to sit out the apocalypse somewhere, let me tell you - that would be it. In a heartbeat. Interesting exhibits to wander through, a library full of books, a way to educate your kids... hell, most museums even have a kid zone for play and fun and all that good stuff. And a cafeteria, etc. etc. etc.

But other t
Oct 15, 2012 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Sorry. I'm over a third of the way through and this is just boring. How can you make a zombie apocalypse this bland?
Aug 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: festa
Nach dem mich der erste Teil der Herbst Reihe „Herbst: Beginn“ von David Moody so gut gefallen hat, machte mich „Dying to live“ neugierig. Zombies, Weltuntergang, Seuche – das klang genau nach meinem Horror und Thrillergeschmack. Und ich wurde positiv überrascht.

Jonah ist ein netter Charakter. Er irrt seit Monaten durch eine tote Welt. Familie, Freunde, Arbeitskollegen – keinen gibt’s mehr. Sie sind alle tot, oder irren als Zombies durch die Gegend. Jonah muss sich vor ihnen in Acht nehmen und d
Anthony Fitzgerald
The first thing I noticed when I picked up "Dying To Live" was that Jonathan Maberry (author of Ghost Road Blues) describes the novel as "not just a thinking man's horror novel, it's a zombie book for philosophers." This is interesting because on one level every zombie novel carries the same theme of a group of survivors trying to survive a war against the undead. Apart from varying story lines, there honestly isn't much of a difference between the lot (I like to think of each novel taking place ...more
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
borrrring. I hate ragging on authors because I so envy the skill it takes to write well and make money at it, but this is just nothing but fluff. every cliche you can think of is present in this book. nothing creative here at all. good read just for killing time
Sandy Benitez
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure how good this book would be because I've had my share of corny zombie movies. Note, I've just rediscovered my love of reading fiction, most of my reading was limited to poetry. I came across this book at and after reading the short description, I thought it sounded interesting. I think it's an excellent zombie read.

The characters are believable and each has his or her own personal story that is revealed throughout the book. There is loss, heartbreak, but also streng
Rhiannon Ryder
May 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's no secret that since October I've become an increasingly ardent fan of zombie books. An infatuation brought on by Mrs. DeRaps Reads pointing me towards The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan and spinning out from there. It's a somewhat limited genre, unfortunately, and so after Rot and Ruin, The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy and Cherie Priests Clockwork Century books (Boneshaker and Dreadnought), I was out of ideas. So the hubby did his research and came up with Kim Paffenroths D ...more
Crystal Romero
Dec 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
You know a book is good when you stay up until 4:30 in the morning just to finish the last few pages. This is what happened to me with Kim Paffenroth’s novel, Dying to Live. It is a zombie novel along the line of Rhiannon Frater’s, As the World Dies in that it brings out many thought provoking topics along the lines of good vs evil, how it affects humanity, and the different aspects of humanity that transforms with the onslaught of a zombie apocalypse. It is thought provoking and enables us to c ...more
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first zombie book, and I was thoroughly impressed. Despite being focused on the state of the world after zombie infestation, the author accomplishes so much more than recounting battles with the dead. There are philosophical characters that discuss the meaning of life, religion and human nature in the new state of the world. The small band of survivors include diverse personalities, often flawed, but each with their own stories of survival and ingenuity. This author is not fearful of the tabo ...more
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like nothing more than a good apocalypse. And this is a zombie apocalypse with a bit if heart and soul. The story is well paced and it was always with reluctance that I had to put the book down. If you are a sucker for a zombie novel like I am, I'm pretty sure you should read this!
Having said all of that, it's not perfect. There are a few strange turns in the story that I think are a little convenient, however, it doesn't detract from the story for me, as you're almost hoping that it will all
Jun 09, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ?
Shelves: horror-zombies
I shouldn't have spoiled myself re-reading Brian Keene's The Rising, City Of The Dead, and also enjoying Dead Sea. For truly enjoyable all out war against zombies. Brian Keene is the way to go. I perhaps did not "get" the meaning for which this author used zombies. Keene's are cooler.
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Mr. Paffenroth's book, Dying to Live is apart from other zombie literature a new "taste" for the wicked. The philosophy behind zombies is done really well here. The writing is clean, neat yet whimsical in parts and the story itself deals with ideology of our nation...racism and war, yet leaves you by the last page in wonder. An intelligent reader always will love an intelligent book. This zombie piece goes up one level beyond the cliche' b-movie brisk. The air here has something wretched in it a ...more
I couldn't even finish the book...........................this whole series with the idea of thinking and feeling zombies just isn't for me at all.......I see the author was trying to do something different but I hated it.I want my zombies to be all bite and no thought and I want them to be slayed by awesome main characters.I suppose I could understand why some people would like this series but in all it's pretty bad and it starts off really slow.
Heather Toms
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. The characters are very relatable. Although the bit with the professor is rather odd but it works. Those that enjoy zombie fiction will enjoy this book.
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the best nor the worst of the genre, good writing. A lot of introspection and a lot of gore. Not sure if I'll continue the series or not. 3 stars.
Amber Harrison
Eh it was ok at best
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an atheist, I didn't care for all the God and religious talk in the book.
Definitely not the best zombie novel I've ever read, but it's by far not the worst. I think all the big names in zombie lit (Brian Keene, David Moody, Joe McKinney, and my personal favorite author Jonathan Maberry) on the covers and on the inside really hyped the book up for me and it didn't quite live up to that hype.

Dying to Live is advertised as a "thinking" horror novel. It's not, really. It suggests some gentle, generic philosophical questions ("Are you dying to live?" and "If God exists, h
Patrick D'Orazio
Jonah Caine is stuck in a living hell. The world has collapsed around him. Alone, he travels in the darkness of the world, the living dead his only company. He wanders and hopes for genuine companionship; someone to share in what little is left for humanity.

He stumbles upon a group hiding out in a museum in a medium-small city. The group has staked their claim on their little part of the world and have lived, for a year, in relative safety. The group is led by Jack, who was one of the military
Real Dead Review
Nov 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zombie Lovers
Shelves: zombie-stuff
Dying to Live is Kim Paffenroth's first novel and quite an outstanding first attempt. The story follows Jonah Caine who is the all-in-one underdog, hero, and saint. Wandering, alone, across the apocalyptic terrain Jonah eventually joins up with a group that has holed up in a museum. The group is lead by Milton, who the rest of the group looks up to as some sort of messiah. Jack, on the other hand is tactical and logistical leader of the group. From their first meeting, Jonah and the museum folks ...more
Zombieslayer/Alienhunter {another apprentice}
I added this book to my 'currently reading' shelf on January 22nd, 2015 and 'finished it' almost exactly seven months later, yesterday, August 23rd, 2015.
Combined from Saturday and Sunday, seriously, I spent about six hours on it.


If you have some idea that you're going to be the kingpin of the zombie apocalypse, (get thee behind me, that position has been filled) I suggest reading Kim Paffenroth's Dying to Live, as right off the bat, we're presented with lots and lots of reso
Courtney (WynRave)
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopian
3.5 stars

I had mixed feelings with this book, especially at the beginning.

What I disliked:

The characters. None of them were really memorable in my eyes. They all seemed to lack personality and I really didn't give 2 shits if they were eaten by a zombie. I want characters that stick out in my head and that I can easily root for. These characters all seemed to be a carbon-copy of one another, just with different names and histories. Only 2 characters stood out in my mind. (view spoiler)
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Horror - Zombies

Dying to Live thoroughy satisfied my yearning to kick off my Halloween reading with a gruesome zombie thriller. What this book delivers, though, is so much more than an A-1 zombie thriller. This book explores the innermost souls of a small group of survivors, who are struggling to retain their humanity and create a community while being surrounded by hordes of zombies.

The survivors unite and care for and accept each other in a world destroyed and overrun by zombies. Milton sees t
Michele Lee
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horror fans
Like the real world the fictional world in Dying to Live is brutally unfair. One would expect no less from a book set a year after the world succumbed to zombies. This isn't a story of the uprising, the slow rot of the human beast. This is a tale part in retrospect, told by characters who are in a brave new world, but still remember and mourn their old world.

Jonah is a man living a grim existence, spared from the initial zombie take over, but finally persuaded to leave his seaborne safe haven to
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, review-copy
This story grabbed me from the first page, and then wouldn't let go! The action starts right away, without any explanation or prologue. Just as well, because most prologues are usually pretty useless. It was like joining a program already in progress, but the author does it in such a way that I never felt confused or lost but instead was hooked and couldn't wait to find out what happened next!

The main character is Jonah Caine, a survivor wandering the country after failing to find any sign of hi
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I am a professor of religious studies, and the author of several books on the Bible and theology. I grew up in New York, Virginia, and New Mexico. I attended St. John's College, Annapolis, MD (BA, 1988), Harvard Divinity School (MTS, 1990), and the University of Notre Dame (PhD, 1995). I live in upstate New York with my wife and two wonderful kids. In the horror genre, I have written Gospel of the ...more
More about Kim Paffenroth...

Other Books in the Series

Dying to Live (3 books)
  • Life Sentence (Dying to Live, #2)
  • Last Rites (Dying to Live, #3)

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