Imagine waking up to find the world has ended, but unfortunately you’re not alone…
For Connor Innis, awakening from a year-long coma with no memories, no ability to move, and unable to speak was bad enough. Then he learns that a bioweapon set off a zombie apocalypse—for real—while he was sleeping, and the world he can’t even remember no longer exists.
Rehabilitation might be torture, but far worse awaits him outside. All too soon, the hospital Mentor declares him fit to leave with nothing to go home to except a city full of mindless, flesh-eating monsters. That is, until he forms a strange relationship with the one he nicknames ‘Zombie Girl’.
The concept is pretty much what it says in the blurb. A young man, Connor, wakes up to an ICU, having been unconscious for a year, and a relentless Mentor AI that pushes him through rehab. I’m not sure we find out why he was in hospital. He has no memories, and the world outside has changed. A bioweapon was unleashed – one he and other coma patients remain unaffected by – and the locals have become zombie-like. We learn nothing of the world outside the city – Connor’s lack of memories reinforces this. And it appears no contact is possible. But then he meets Zombie Girl.
Pippa Jay is a writer who brings stories to life. This is probably one of her calmer stories – her usual modus operandi is to torture her heroes, and there’s relatively little of that in this tale – but it’s no less vivid or poignant for that absence.
I wouldn’t say that Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened is Jay’s most tightly-written novella, but it is a delightful – if at times a teensy bit gory – tale nevertheless. What do I mean by tightly-written? From what I could detect, there weren’t multiple levels of meaning or complexity to the story, which I am more used to from Jay’s other novellas. It just appears to be a rather sweet account of what happens after Connor wakes up. There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s quite a pleasant change to read something simple that doesn’t tax my brain too much. I really liked the way it wrapped up, and it would be interesting to see what happens next in this world.