What is this about?: A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising reads like a collection of stories from the most unusual history book you’ll ever find, delving into the emergence of a virus that turns people into vampires, and how this forced society to change as a result.
What else is this about?: A horror story of a different kind
A virus that turns people into something somehow more than human quickly sweeps the world, upending society as we know it.
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.
Stars: 3.5/5 Points for trying to reinvent vampires
A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is an ambitious novel of how society changes when a vampire virus surfaces, and people begin to change, and more importantly, begin to want to change to become vampires. It’s also about how vampires begin infiltrate every facet of society.
First up, points to the author Raymond A Villareal for very inventive and ambitious novel and the way he chose to tell this story. This reads like a history text in some ways, as it encompasses transcripts of congress hearings, legal documents, articles int he media and reports from FBI agents. Difference is the name of the game here, and it provides a different view into how the machinery of government — and the church — work to come to terms with Gloamings.
Ok, really so what is this book about?
Exactly what it says on the tin: an account of the history of the NOBI virus that changes people into Vampires or rather Gloamings. The authors covers a myriad of POVS: from the scientist that discovered it, the interrogations of militants and accounts of political campaigns to bring Gloamings into power.
It’s the stuff you never get to hear about otherwise in a book about vampires, and I appreciated learning about the possible machinations behind the scenes of those in power, of those in the FBI who are trying to bring Gloaming criminals to justice, and to unveil the horror of their larger plans.
I will say reading through transcripts of hearings and having footnotes that are half a page long are quite simply boring. I stopped reading them and focused on the text instead.
So who are the Gloamings?
Gloamings are not the vampires you know
Yeah vampires got rebranded into Gloamings, which you have to admit is one way of differentiating yourself and your book and characters from the vampire novels that came before. Gloamings integrate into society here, becoming Governors, for instance.
While the book covers the things you wouldn’t necessarily think about in a vampire story, like congress and politics, it’s greatest strengths are the more intimate chapters, where you are on the road with Lauren and Hector, who first discover the virus and go chasing the first Gloaming. Her determination to find answers is something you can identify with and the author wisely made her a constant in the book.
There’s the political campaigner who wants the challenge of all challenges: to get a Gloaming elected to political office, and the terror when he finds out what he has got himself into. There’s the order who works to prevent the Church from being run by Gloamings, and the terror they inflict in order to achieve their aims — these are the chapters where the book resonated with me more than the larger issues — congress, CDC hearings — it tried to cover.
And that’s why I wondered: where’s the story of the man coming to terms with the fact that the woman he loves wants to be a Gloaming? Or someone who doesn’t want to die hoping for a cure if they become Gloaming?
I didn’t need the big explanations of how society tries to comes to terms with the Gloamings, but I did need the more intimate stories of how society was changing in ways that politicians and those in power could not conceive of.
All in all, A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is an ambitious book that very much wants to reinvent arguably one of the most popular genres and characters out there. It’s going to be polarising I think, but worth your time for the sheer inventiveness in its worldbuilding.