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A People's History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal

BOTTOM LINE: Disappointing

Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Publication Date: 5 June 2018
Source: Publisher from NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“This panoramic fictional oral history begins with one small mystery: the body of a young woman found in an Arizona border town, presumed to be an illegal immigrant, disappears from the town morgue. To the young CDC investigator called in to consult with the local police, it’s an impossibility that threatens her understanding of medicine.

Then, more bodies, dead from an inexplicable disease that solidified their blood, are brought to the morgue, only to also vanish. Soon, the U.S. government–and eventually biomedical researchers, disgruntled lawmakers, and even an insurgent faction of the Catholic Church–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.

With heightened strength and beauty and a stead diet of fresh blood, these changed people, or ‘Gloamings,’ rapidly rise to prominence in all aspects of modern society. Soon people are beginning to be ‘re-created,’ willingly accepting the risk of death if their bodies can’t handle the transformation. As new communities of Gloamings arise, society is divided, and popular Gloaming sites come under threat from a secret terrorist organization. But when a charismatic and wealthy businessman, recently turned, runs for political office–well, all hell breaks loose.

Told from the perspective of key players, including a cynical FBI agent, an audacious campaign manager, and a war veteran turned nurse turned secret operative, A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is an exhilarating, genre-bending debut that is as addictive as the power it describes.”

My Thoughts: I think this is another novel in which my love affair with the subject matter skewed my perceptions of the novel. When I hear a novel features vampires, I not only want but expect blood and violence, a bit of horror, a lot of suspense, and maybe some sexy times to round out the story. This is why I enjoy vampire novels after all – because they tend to include all of those things in some form. I enjoy the world building involved specifically due to vampires. I expect some form of psychology behind the story as well, because depending on the vampire myth at play there is always something psychological about turning or having a loved one turned. So imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the vampires involved in A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising were not at all what I wanted and expected. To say I was disappointed does not even begin to cover my feelings.

The thing about Mr. Villareal’s story is that it is just so clinical. He opts to tell his story using the epistolary format, mostly through transcripts of interviews of key players with the occasional news article thrown into the mix. When done well, this is a form of story telling I thoroughly enjoy. I do not want to say that Mr. Villareal does not use this form to its full advantage, but I do think it is a case of poor execution. Strike that. Mr. Villareal is a lawyer by trade. The entire novel felt as removed as legal briefings. There is no connection to the characters; in fact, I still could not tell them apart by the end of the story. One character blends right into another, and I did not care about any of them.

The vampires were also disappointingly passive. Any violent acts they performed were off-screen and hypothetical because no one can pin any crimes on them. Plus, I really struggle with the idea of Kanye and Bieber becoming vampires. The thing about vampires is that they provide the little people an opportunity to become powerful. To have the rich and famous and beautiful become vampires is deflating. No violence. No suspense. No psychology involved other than greed. These vampires are pretty toothless.

I believe that Mr. Villareal has potential. I am not quite certain writing about vampires was the best starting point for him though. His legal writing skills are too ingrained in him right now, and he needs to work on building characters that are memorable and with whom you can connect. (Also, if writing about a supernatural creature that feeds on blood, we need to see some blood and violence.)

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising should have been a lot more enjoyable than it was. The premise is intriguing and causes one to flashback to the current president’s rise to power. Interestingly enough, both cause you to feel the same sense of impotence and frustration watching a group gain power against all odd. In the end, the lack of compelling characters, lack of suspense and horror, dry prose, and the similarity to the 2016 election was enough to make this a major dud for me. I hate when vampire novels are not good.

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