A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal
3.5 stars, enjoyable read that was (almost) everything that I wish World War Z was… only with vampires!
About the Book
Publisher: Mulholland Books | Release Date: May 29, 2018 | Pages: 432
Genre: Adult, Paranormal | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Netgalley
This panoramic thriller begins with one small mystery. The body of a young woman found in an Arizona border town, presumed to be an illegal immigrant, walks out of the town morgue. To the young CDC investigator called in to consult the local police, it’s a bizarre medical mystery.
More bodies, dead of a mysterious disease that solidifies their blood, are brought to the morgue, and disappear. In a futile game of catch-up, the CDC, the FBI, and the US government must come to terms with what they’re too late to stop: an epidemic of vampirism that will sweep first the United States, and then the world.
Impossibly strong, smart, poised, beautiful, and commanding, these vampires reject the term as derogatory, preferring the euphemistic “gloamings.” They quickly rise to prominence in all aspects of modern society: sports, entertainment, and business. Soon people are begging to be ‘re-created,’ willing to accept the risk of death if their bodies can’t handle the transformation. The stakes change yet again when a charismatic and wealthy businessman, recently turned, decides to do what none of his kind has done before: run for political office.
This sweeping yet deeply intimate fictional oral history–told from the perspectives of several players on all sides of the titular vampire uprising–is a genre-bending, shocking, immersive and subversive debut that is as addictive as the power it describes.
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A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is a fictionalized oral history of the discovery and uprising of Gloamings – vampires. It started in Nogales, Arizona and is investigated by a new CDC agent Dr. Lauren Scott, who is one of the main voices of this novel. I was gripped by the boots-on-the-ground recounting of a new virus from a multitude of perspectives. Lauren’s chapters were by far my favorite and they reminded me of The Hot Zone by Richard Preston (which began a lifelong obsession with microbiology).
“It’s exactly these changing conditions – we are still trying to figure out how we got here – that caused me to realize: now is the perfect time to compile the beginning, middle, and… if not the end, then that place that occupied the in medias res of our current conflicts.”
I liked the plausible, scientific explanations for the supernatural. While this book is written from the perspective of “in the middle of the uprising,” the reader is taken along for the ride as the characters/newspaper reports/etc discover them and the events unfold. This makes for an interesting read that is fast paced in action as things are slowly becoming more developed.
This book does use footnotes which lends to the feeling of reading an academic or scholarly account, although I can imagine will frustrate some readers. I found them worth perusing for the most part and once I figured out the anchors brought you back to the narrative after reading the footnote in the ebook I was even more happy to read them, especially so as to not miss gems like these:
But this book is not just a vampire book or a science book. It also is satire and has lots to say about current society. References to current media outlets and social media accounts root this story eerily in our present, and as much as this is about discovering where the vampires come from and trying to find a cure… it is about how the people react as a whole. This is as much about how American society would respond to a new minority population emerging and the friction caused as those without power seek it. It’s incredibly eerie because everything discussed I can actually see happening – for better or for worse. And that’s what is so great about satire – it makes you think.
One thing that I did struggle with was I did find near the last third of the book that I was overwhelmed by the number of characters/perspectives and had difficulty recalling a couple of people easily. I almost wish there was a character list to reference either at the front or back of the book that I could refer to as more narratives are added into the mix.
Had I reviewed this at like 85-90% it would have easily been 4 or 4.5 stars. I found the “ending” rather dissatisfying in a way that doesn’t ring true to the Forward of the book. I know that things are still ongoing but the lack of a proper wrap-up or an ending analysis was just an anticlimactic ending for me personally, and a low point to end a great book.
Movie rights were secured for this book in 2017 – a full year before publication! – I think this will lend itself really well on screen. This is a really interesting piece of satire for the United States right now in addition to being an imaginative origin story for vampires. This is truly a genre-bending read. I really disliked World War Z, and this book, even with its faults, is exactly what I wished that book would have been.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Mulholland Books, for providing me with an electronic copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.