I enjoyed To Live. It felt like an easy read.
It seemed rather existentialist. Everyone died in the end. Fugui and his ox left weary and ready to die and has saved money for his burial. Fugui believed he was a total let down, and believed that he had been unable to bring Jiazhen happiness. He also frequently worries that he was a terrible father, despite his efforts, as is evident when Youqing dies and he removes pebbles so his son is not uncomfortable. Despite this Fugui seems contented at the end, having his ox, Fugui as companion. Even when the people who were supposed to die got killed or tortured, like Long Er and the team leader, there was no sort of gratification, but a kind of sympathy.
Since spoilers were passed about, it felt like Final Destination to me, where the only puzzle is guessing what order and how they die, since the fact they will die, which is likely nowhere near the intended effect. When John and I discussed the book briefly after the flight to Hainan, we agreed that it seemed like Yu Hua got bored and killed everyone off.