Audiobook Review: A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Hachette Audio (June 5, 2018)
Length: 13 hrs and 27 mins
Narrators: Jim Meskimen, Christine Lakin, Robert Petkoff, full cast
Three and a half years ago, a body of a seemingly dead woman walks out of an Arizona morgue, confounding everyone from the local police to scientists at the CDC. And so begins what this novel calls a “people’s history” of vampirism—or at least a disease that leads to symptoms that resemble what our popular culture considers vampire-like. This disease, the Nogales organic blood illness (or designated the NOBI virus), changes its victims’ physiologies in drastic ways, including giving them super strength, an aversion to sunlight, and extending their lives by hundreds of years. And yes, it also gives them a thirst to feed on human blood.
In just a short period of time, the infection spreads across the United States, but in a very unprecedented pattern for a disease. This is in part due to NOBI’s unconventional process of transmission. Gradually, becoming a “vampire” is something seen as much desired, and those who have been “recreated” quickly become the nation’s elite, rising in prominence in their respective fields. Calling themselves the “gloamings”, they begin to use their increasing influence to demand more rights and legal protections in the midst of rising death and chaos sweeping across the country. People are literally dying to become gloamings, with the transformation success rate estimated at only fifty percent.
Offering readers a glimpse into different sections of the population to see how the gloaming invasion has affected society, A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising follows several key characters including a CDC researcher named Lauren Scott, a Catholic priest named Father Reilly, an FBI agent named Hugo Zumthor, and a political campaign manager named Joseph Barrera. These perspectives come together to form a narrative that spans several years, following the course of the NOBI epidemic from its inception to its outbreak, and subsequently how its effects have changed the world.
Have you ever wondered while reading those urban fantasy series which feature humans and vampires living side by side, in precarious but relative peace, how that status quo might have come about? As readers, I think we take a lot of those dynamics for granted, never questioning the myriad problems such a monumental event—that is, accepting vampires into the general population—would cause our society. In a way, A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising serves to fill that gap, viewing this “what if” situation through a realistic and modern lens. The author Raymond A. Villareal delves into the nitty-gritty details, addressing the political and social turmoil and the growing pains of a country taking steps to accommodate a growing population of gloamings. What economic consequences are there, for example, when a good chunk of your workforce can’t work the typical 9-to-5 day? What effects would today’s social media have on the image of gloamings? What would happen if a high-profile gloaming ran for political office? How much is the average citizen willing to take?
As fascinating as these questions are, sometimes the minutiae gets in the way of the overall narrative. Villareal is a practicing attorney, and so it’s not surprising when you get the occasional chapter steeped in legalese and other jargon in favor of the clear and simple. Calling this a “panoramic thriller” might also be a stretch, as are perhaps the comparisons to World War Z. The format of the book may call to mind Max Brook’s epistolary novel about zombies, but it has nowhere near the scope nor presence. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising failed to grip me the way I thought it would, and its presentation was also a little messy.
That said, the novel has its fascinating moments and flashes of insight. The different characters were interesting and enjoyable to follow. Overall the premise is a good one, even if the execution isn’t as strong as I’d hoped. I would recommend it, but with caveats. Don’t expect a thriller of epic proportions, but there’s admittedly plenty in A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising to stimulate and capture the imagination of any vampire fiction aficionado, and it’s certainly not conventional or average.
Audiobook Comments: Fans of full-cast audiobooks will enjoy the audio version of A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising which features multiple narrators portraying the roles of all major characters in the novel. For a story that is told mostly through interview transcripts and other documentation, the multi-cast format is also perfect for emphasizing the different narrative voices and personalities.