A People's History of the Vampire Uprising

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 May 2019

Member Reviews

I was hoping for something like the vampire version of World War Z and was happy to get the same vibe from A People's History...
Really enjoyed how the tale was weaved and the style used.  Great premise and excellent follow through.
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Raymond A. Villareal's genre-bending The People's History of the Vampire Uprising (Little Brown, digital galley) is a clever take on medical mystery/alien invasion as a vampire virus begin turning humans into "gloamings.'' As they multiply, they begin demanding equal rights. A CDC investigator and a FBI agent are among those contributing to this oral history, which also includes "official'' reports and documents. 

from On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever    3.5 stars
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it was just ok . Started out like it was going to be good, but the more i read the more i just couldn't understand what was going on, i kept getting lost and having to go back and re read things i had all ready read, with that said i want to thank Netgalley for letting me read it and review it
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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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For readers who are looking for World War Z readalikes. Maybe also for people who liked the Sleeping Giant series by Sylvain Neuvel. Absorbing read, but the ending was weirdly abrupt and didn't wrap up anything - perhaps it is the beginning of a series?
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DNF'd at around 30%. The concept was interesting, the execution was decent (though it sometimes had trouble staying coherent), but the real problem for me was the terrible terrible science. A lot of the bad attempts at science talk might go over the heads of most laymen, and that's fine, but for me it was something that constantly kicked me out of the narrative, and it ceased to be enjoyable to read. I might try and read it again in the future, but I can't say for sure.
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There’s truth in the old adage that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. However, I would argue that in some cases, you CAN judge a book by its title.

For instance, take Raymond A. Villareal’s new novel “A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising” (Mulholland, $27). That is one judgeable title – evocative and provocative at the same time, offering a tantalizing and crystal-clear description of what you’re about to experience.

This book is exactly what its title purports it to be – a complex and engaging sort of future history that follows the gradual appearance and assimilation of vampires into modern society. It follows a disparate cast of characters from both sides of the divide, offering first-person accounts from key players while also interspersing interview transcripts and news articles and other secondary and tertiary materials throughout.

What ultimately emerges is a thoughtful and finely-crafted work that reads as particularly insightful pop history – the title’s allusion to Howard Zinn’s seminal book isn’t an accident. It’s got a lot of Max Brooks’ “World War Z” in its DNA as well (though, it should be noted, not in a derivative way). It bears its influences proudly, but is very much its own beast.

In near-future America, something sinister has happened out in the New Mexico desert near the border with Mexico. A woman named Liza Sole was found dead and brought to the morgue in Nogales for autopsy. And then, hours later, something that was both Liza Sole and far more than Liza Sole got up and left, vanishing into the darkness.

This was the beginning.

Liza Sole – and those who came after – were infected with what would come to be known as the NOBI (Nogales organic blood illness) virus. NOBI was a 50/50 proposition; infection meant either death or becoming a vampire (referred to as “Gloamings”).

The process – euphemistically known as being re-created – gave the recipient all the traits associated with vampirism. Increased physical strength and personal magnetism, an aversion to sunlight … and the need to consume human blood to survive.

As the Gloamings steadily integrated themselves into society, placing their number into ever-higher echelons of power, they began gradually gaining mainstream acceptance. They were glamorized and lionized, admired and adored. They pursued their goals in manners both legally straightforward and ethically murky. And more and more powerful people submitted to being re-created.

But no one really knew what the Gloamings wanted. It was up to a select few to sift through it all to find the pieces of the puzzle that fit together, trying to discern just what the ultimate Gloaming goal was … and where exactly humanity fit into the picture.

“A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising” tells the story of what happened through the words of those closest to the investigation. There’s Dr. Lauren Scott, the CDC virologist who happened to be first on the ground in Nogales following the incident and became the country’s preeminent researcher into the NOBI virus. FBI Agent Hugo Zumthor, who headed up the Bureau’s nascent Gloaming Crimes Unit in an effort to deal with the unique nature of potential criminal activity by Gloamings. Lawyers and political operatives offer differing perspectives on Washington D.C.’s reaction to the Gloaming impact on the political realm; priests and scholars offer the religious realm’s take on the situation. The media gets its chance to add some input as well.

The book is put together like a piece of smart-yet-accessible nonfiction, capturing perfectly that piecemeal approach of meticulous research that goes into blending disparate elements. The first-person accounts are most compelling – they’re the ones with the most leeway to advance the narrative while also giving Villareal room to stretch – but they benefit greatly from the sprinkling of additional material. The interview transcripts are great, but it’s the excerpts from magazines, newspapers and the like that really fill the gaps and contextualize everything. It’s all tied together beautifully.

(Villareal – an attorney in real life – gets a little wonky in a couple places, going heavy on the lawyer-talk in a way that is jargon-y and dense and surprisingly interesting. It’s a relatively small thing, but the small details are what make this book work so well.)

But while the method of storytelling is certainly important, it doesn’t mean anything without a quality story to be told. Villareal has created something that feels grounded and genuine; even his vampires (sorry, Gloamings – in the book, the v-word is offensive) carry an air of plausibility. Genre-forward fare like this doesn’t always feel solid, but this is book is an exceptional example of striking the balance between style and substance.

“A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising” is undeniably aptly titled. It’s smart and smartly-constructed, an absolute blast to read. It is, to put it bluntly, entertaining as hell. All in all – and I apologize in advance for the terrible pun – this book does not suck.
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A solid book with a good premise on Vampires and how they took over the world. How they went from secretive to being everywhere. A pretty good view into how society today would react as well.
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This is yet another book about an apocalypse told after the fact using memoirs, media accounts and other post-facto collected items. As such it lacks immediacy and calls to mind similar (exceedingly similar) books about the zombie uprising including "This Is the Way the World Ends: an Oral History of the Zombie War" and "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War", neither of which I found interesting. Additionally, the text is marred by extraneous material – pages of unneeded back story. I don't recommend the book at all.

I received a review copy of "A People's History of the Vampire Uprising" by Raymond A. Villareal (Mulholland) through NetGalley.com.
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"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."

3.5 stars, enjoyable read that was (almost) everything that I wish World War Z was... only with vampires!

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). 

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-y 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 as 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.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. (view spoiler)

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 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.
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Unique take on the vampire mythology! Highly recommended
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This was like Villareal tossed a bit of Justin Cronin's The Passage and Trueblood/Sookie Stackhouse novels into a Vitamix and poured out this interesting concoction that's two parts social/religious/cultural/political satire and one part horror (make your own determination where the real horror lies for you). 

The format is many disparate pieces from, tabloids, law reviews, medical and scientific journals, personal journals, news papers and more without anything to much bridge them together, save the date on each entry which lets you know how long the outbreak has been going as you progress through the story. Patient Zero, Liza Sole and the CDC investigator seeking her were to me, most likely characters to glom onto to follow but after we're introduced to them we're quickly ushered off to what this book really wants to show, the more important story of how the Gloaming literally shift society through many mechanisms and ascend to power. With a wry eye winking at the reader, Villareal wends this tale with timely situations, references and even celebrity mentions (I did think the celeb and social media gaze will quickly date this story, so read it within a year or so people!). I liked this take for its originality and keeping me hooked on a mysterious thread (like seriously, that gold!) but would have loved more character fleshing out. They felt like they were just here to service the story and that was a bit unsatisfying for me. Still, if like me, you're a fan of the books I mention at the outset, give this one a read.

Thanks to Mullholland Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
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I was really interested in this book after reading the description. I started reading it and everything seemed to be going well. The further along I read the more frustrated I became with this book. This just around between different people and different time periods. I didn't really mind that but what did annoy me is that there are so many things that you want explained and want to hear about what happened and it seems to take forever to flesh out any of the plot. Quite frankly I finished the book feeling like nothing was resolved at all and still had a ton of questions that I felt were not answered. I didn't think that this was supposed to be part of a series but that is the only way I can explain the lackluster ending and the unanswered questions. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the galley.
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