Title: And Then I Woke Up
Author: Malcolm Devlin
Genre: Horror Novella
Number of Pages: 176
This is the kind of book with a premise that I wish I had come up with myself. It was awesome and managed to carry the book through some of it’s more underdeveloped elements. The storyline centers around a reverse zombie apocalypse where the ‘infected’ are people who think they’re in the fuckin’ Walking Dead, hacking through pedestrians they view as flesh-eating monsters.
Louis Spencer is one of those people, sent to a treatment center that tries to undo the ‘narrative’ and make him a functioning member of society again. His friend Macey also had the delusion and after blowing up a diner full of ‘zombies’ (i.e., ordinary men, women, and children) they stayed with a pack of survivors.
In the treatment center he meets a woman named Leila and they leave to see what her old crew of delusional murdering lunatics is up to. There’s a strong quasi-political message throughout the book about the dangers of vilifying the ‘other.’ I found the beginning of the virus (with people interpreting viral videos differently- are those two men kissing or is one eating the other’s face?) fascinating.
Did I mention that I resent the hell out of this author for coming up with this idea before I did? Yeah, I guess I did. I found myself wondering whether I’d be the kind of person who would contract the virus or whether I’d just be among the hordes of helpless victims. I’d probably get the virus, I’m a pretty suspicious person with an overactive imagination.
I totally get why you’d reject reality after doing the things these people did, becoming (in your own deluded mind) a hero and survivor instead of a volatile nut who killed innocent people. It made me wonder, what made the people with the virus ‘different’ from the others? Were they at all to blame for their actions? Louis seems to believe he is and struggles to atone as best he can.
There isn’t a huge amount of character development in this story (I also had trouble picturing the characters and Macey and Leila ran together in my mind a little bit) but it’s a novella so that’s okay. I thought the author did a really good job at creating a harrowing world in a short amount of time. I’d love to see another novella set in this universe that builds upon what has already been created.