Reviews

‘And Then I Woke Up’: A timely and unique take on zombie stories

April 22, 2022

TITLE: And Then I Woke Up
AUTHOR: Malcolm Devlin
GENRE: Horror
AGE RANGE: Adult
PAGES: 176pg
PUBLISHER: TorDotCom

In a world reeling from an unusual plague, monsters lurk in the streets while terrified survivors arm themselves and roam the countryside in packs. Or perhaps something very different is happening. When a disease affects how reality is perceived, it’s hard to be certain of anything…

Spence is one of the “cured” living at the Ironside rehabilitation facility. Haunted by guilt, he refuses to face the changed world until a new inmate challenges him to help her find her old crew. But if he can’t tell the truth from the lies, how will he know if he has earned the redemption he dreams of? How will he know he hasn’t just made things worse?

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My greatest sin and my greatest achievement are the same. I told a story.

And Then I Woke Up feels like a difficult title to rate and review, because it was a difficult title to form a solid opinion on. I am absolutely enthralled by the concept of this story, and loved the narrative voice and the storytelling style, yet something didn’t quite click for me throughout the bulk of the novella. I think this story suffers from repetition more than anything else, as it is an extremely character-focused story with very little action (though it has a decent depth of plot). That said, I did enjoy our narrator as a storyteller very much, so I suppose the book’s flaws are also its qualities, in a sense (can you see now why I’m struggling to rate and review this?).

And Then I Woke Up is a zombie story of sorts, but told from the perspective of someone who has been “cured” — and these definitely aren’t your average zombies. There isn’t much to say without running the risk of spoilers, but I was fascinated by the entire premise that Devlin came up with and its social commentary on the way people view and spread information and “truth” in the modern age. The last 20% or so of the novella was phenomenal and I loved watching things unfold, so I’m very happy that I kept going through the more boring elements of the middle.

While And Then I Woke Up didn’t fully captivate me, there was something about it that I think will stick with me for a while, and I’m extremely interested in future releases from this author. If you enjoy post-apocalyptic stories with a twist and a healthy (but not overly on-the-nose) commentary on some of the uglier sides of humanity, I highly recommend checking it out!

content warnings →
WARNINGS (vague spoilers):

death, gore, murder, mental illness, paranoia, hallucinations, child murder

representation →

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3 Comments

  • Reply Hazel Vee April 22, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    This sounds like a fresh new take on zombies. I’m not a fan of this genre but I’m super curious about this title.

  • Reply Books as First Dates Book Tag! – The Sassy Library Fox April 24, 2022 at 8:33 am

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