And Then I Woke Up
“A scathing portrait of the world we live in and a running commentary on what’s story, what’s truth, and what’s not.”—Stephen Graham Jones
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?
Publication Date: April 12th 2022
Suicide, Violence, Murder, Abuse, Blood Depiction, Mutilation, Gaslighting, Self Harm, Gore
My greatest sin and my greatest achievement are the same. I told a story.
You know why this review took so long? It’s because I didn’t know how to review it.
I still don’t to be honest.
When I went into this, when I requested this from Netgalley— I was looking forward to zombies. I was expecting conversation about media and censorship and… I don’t know… things that weren’t really what this book was offering. Kind of. But, wow– this book… for a novella it packed a punch.
It is the aftermath the The Narrative— a virus that warps your reality and ends up making you kill your loved ones, your neighbor… whoever is in the vicinity. And we end up with our main character Spencer at rehab. That’s right, there are survivors and it is here that they come to tell their stores without judgment from others. But, of course Spencer meets a new member who he notices is different… and we go from there.
And with a with a virus that changes the way you see the world around you, the examination on societies way of spreading information and word of mouth– I appreciate the nuance in which the topic was approached.
Now this story is very character-focused; the writing/voice of our main character– I feel like some may see Spencer as pompous or arrogant in his narration, but I enjoy him. I appreciate a protagonist who is okay with the way his world works. He wakes up everyday, eats breakfast, joins his therapy circle, engages in activities… it’s all very mundane and that’s fine. He knows what he did and isn’t asking for forgiveness. He wants peace.
With world that is truly post apocalyptic, it wasn’t hard envisioning the state of society. Even with limited views of the outside world, it’s a bleak vibe more so in the space that should be full of healing.
Of course we are juxtaposed to flashbacks, but they didn’t feel inorganic thanks to the narration and again it gave much needed context to how we got here and where we’re going.
I miss missing him in that way. I miss loving him so unconditionally. I miss him and I miss the disease that made me see monsters.
But I believe it was the last 25%-30% that really had me. Delving into a certain characters backstory brought in all of the questions- What’s real and what isn’t real? Where does the cruelty stop and the mercy begin? And who are you to decide that? I wouldn’t know how to act if put in this situation, so all I can do is it there in awe and sadness and hurt for the characters who have to make that decision and live with themselves.
I’m trying hard to not give too much away here, but this book was something really special for me. It came out of nowhere, but I will always appreciate and I highly recommend… only if you want to be truly mindfucked in the best of ways.