The Cambridge Geek

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

This is a telling of how vampires came out of the shadows, integrated themselves into society and tried to take it over. It's one of those books written as a series of different reports/interviews, similar to World War Z or the more recent Sleep Over. But instead of zombies, or the terrible inability to have a nap, this time it's vampires.

In the deep South of the USA, a vampire has arisen and is working her way from town to town, slowly turning more and more people, and given the exponential curve they rapidly become a significant minority of the population. They've got the usual set of weaknesses to sunlight and fire, though are relatively immune to religion, and can't avoid the old blood sucking problem. But now, they're no longer prepared to stay in the shadows.

That's right, this is the book about the vampire civil rights movement.

Except you can't call them vampires. That's their word. Call them Gloamings. Or "re-created". Vampires don't turn people anymore, they "re-create" them. Into beautiful, long-lived, unnecessarily charming death machines. And good lord are they picky about who they let join their club.

Being a vamp becomes the newest coolest trend, only for those the vamps consider worthy of getting their special gift. Entertainingly, this is almost entirely posh, rich, white people. Republicans, they're literally feeding off the blood of the poor. It's definitely a shame and not ironic that they can't post themselves on instagram though.

Which makes this quite an interesting concept. The other books mentioned drop very much into the devastating aspects of their relative apocalypses, whereas this takes it rather more slowly. It's set over several years, as the vampires begin to have an impact on the medical profession, local and national government, and begin to set up lobbyists, aiming to get the law changed to accommodate them. (It's quite hard to get a driving license when you don't show up in a picture.)

While the other two examples jumped around a lot between different perspectives, only ever visiting each person once, this is a bit more focused. It has a fair number of one-offs, but also follows particular people for multiple chapters. We've got the CDC official who first discovered the disease, an FBI agent who is investigating vamp crimes, a Catholic priest worried about the church's future, and someone doing a Buffy impression. The church chapters easily win "most fascinating", providing a fun thought experiment about how catholics might react to people pulling a Lazarus.

It's an interesting book in general, and I very much enjoyed the different ideas about how society would need to adjust to deal with a new sub-species. It's just a shame it finishes so early. The book feels very unfinished. I don't know if it's expecting a sequel, or the author just lost track of what he was doing halfway through, but nothing gets resolved. I mean, seriously nothing. All of the various plot threads more or less just stop. Now, it's possible that was intended as a "people are adaptable" sort of thing, where the end result is a new status quo, but the three quarter mark introduces a whole new plot arc and then never pays it off.

It's just very frustrating. It's a good book, and it has some excellent ideas and does a good job of exploring them, but the ending completely throws it out of the window. I read it, and I don't regret reading it, but it left me very unsatisfied.

Score 3

Tagged: Book Horror The undead Novel Print