USA Today Review
Clever 'Vampire Uprising': These blood-suckers are demanding their civil rights!
Brian Truitt, USA TODAYPublished 1:26 p.m. ET June 5, 2018
(Photo: Mulholland Books)
Having vampires and humans living and working together in society is just asking for a whole lot of bad blood.
Conflict, conspiracy, curiosity and chaos all arise in Raymond A. Villareal’s debut novel A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising (Mulholland, 432 pp., ★★★ out of four).
In a nod to what World War Z did for zombies, Vampire Uprising chronicles roughly 3½ years after the discovery of a virus that gives its hosts extraordinary abilities and a penchant for plasma.
The subject matter is somewhat familiar, albeit clever in exploring vampiric tendencies, and the story derivative at times. But Villareal smartly fleshes out an intriguing what-if scenario with civilization-altering turns and political gamesmanship.
Vampire Rising follows a cast of characters through various accounts, documents and articles that detail the Gloamings (they’d rather not be called “vampires,” please and thank you) and their gradual infection into all walks of life.
It begins with Liza Sole, a presumed-dead woman who walks right out of an Arizona morgue. CDC researcher Lauren Scott crosses the country to investigate, and she’s the first to make headway into figuring out the mysterious NOBI virus that starts spreading across America.
Uprising takes the romantic concept of vampires as tempting, beautiful and arrogant creatures who live for centuries and extrapolates it to modern culture.
Celebrities and power players want to be “re-created” as Gloamings — they even get their name courtesy of a Taylor Swift social-media post — and the vamps start fighting for their civil rights as they play a bigger role in the everyday world. (The fact that a growing percentage of the American workforce can only come out at night is just one of many problems.)
Author Raymond A. Villareal. (Photo: Ryan Humphries)
The storytelling is picked up by a Catholic priest; the head of the FBI’s Gloaming Crimes Unit; a political operative involved with a Gloaming gubernatorial candidate; a nurse who signs up with an anti-vamp terrorist group and others as Uprising shifts from police procedural to social satire to international mystery and back.
Naturally, deadly complications arise when one part of the population needs to feed from the blood of the rest. As key players’ narratives intertwine, the plot becomes much more about real-world stakes than horror-movie staking.
The oral-history structure is both a positive and a negative for Uprising. Some of the drier chapters lean into Congressional testimony and legal mumbo-jumbo — Villareal is a real Texas attorney, so that stuff’s solid if not scintillating. Yet he brings his characters’ personalities alive in satisfying fashion, which buoys the expositional parts and helps drive narrative momentum.
Vampire Uprising is well worth a bite: The creature-feature crew will discover that recognizable tropes can feel fresh, and readers who aren’t horror fiends will find a beguiling entry into the thoughts of Dracula and his ilk living among us.