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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Not that author Nadia Gilkes is preoccupied with death as much as Woody Allen, but something in Woke Up Dead will make us ponder on the lessons of dying that will make us appreciate life more. This lighthearted novella is not a zombie story, but rather a magnified look at the celebration of being alive and a rational foundation on accepting death by the time it knocks on our door. Picture this: Hope “Ham” Allison is a brilliant statistician who, by some twist of fate, fell into a coma and has been declared deceased. Mayhem ensues when she wakes up at her own funeral. As she tries to put her life back in order, she discovers how her family and relatives have accommodated the event of her passing. They cleaned out her apartment, her credit card is over the limit, and her pet piranha is missing. Her resurrection is captured on YouTube and that makes matters worse. There is no support group for the descendants of Lazarus.
This novella effectively addresses the deepest truths in the fewest words and in ways that will make us shed tears of laughter. Ms. Gilkes is a highly original story-weaver who offers us the premise that rebuilding our life can be complicated as it hinges on the old existentialist adage that hell is other people. Life may be beautiful, but it entails plenty of responsibility. As the protagonist’s “To Do List” increases, we understand that a new lease on life would prove challenging. In the long run, the story makes us reach the sordid truth that we are the only ones who will genuinely care for ourselves, and that we must learn not to depend on anyone. This is a story that does not deal with a supernatural afterlife, but it is about a surreal, absurd existence. If Woke Up Dead leaves you smiling or nodding your head in assent after reading, then Ms. Gilkes has done her job.