The good: I love how it combines medical, legal and crime with sci-fi.
The not-so-good: The ending is a bit ambiguous for me.
Why I chose it: I have never, ever heard of a story involving a character from the CDC so I was intrigued. Thanks to Hachette for the copy.
Setting: Primarily America
Rating: 8 out of 10
I am not your typical sci-fi reader. My friends joke that I’m odd because I’d rather read ‘a strange Japanese book’ (their interpretation of Murakami) than settle into a book about vampires and dragons. I didn’t read beyond the first book in the Twilight series, yet I loved Harry Potter. I love time travel stories but struggle with aliens. Yet A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is my kind of jam. Everything in this book is plausible, if you accept that vampires are real. I like that idea – that’s my kind of sci-fi.
What also makes this novel a stand out for me is that it is told from multiple viewpoints of employees of real life government agencies. I have never, ever seen a character who works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (aka the CDC) play a main role in a novel. Yet the story opens with Dr Lauren Scott, a new employee to the CDC talking about how she was sent to investigate a new virus called NOBI (Nogales Organic Blood Illness). This virus led to the discovery and growth of a new kind of human in the world – vampires (aka the Gloamings). Taylor Swift is a Gloaming. So is Justin Bieber and many notable figures in business and religion. As the story unfolds, we hear from Hugo at the FBI who leads a unit specialising in crimes conducted by Gloamings. There is also an underground resistance to try and stop the spread of Gloamings in the Catholic Church, headed by a number of priests and a former soldier. It’s not just people involved in the investigation of Gloamings and their origins that tell their story in this book though. There are reporters and a campaign manager asked to do the most difficult task of all – bring a Gloaming to office.
Told usually through the first person point of view, each of these characters give an insight into how the Gloamings have changed the world (particularly America). It’s heavy on detail. Lauren from the CDC talks at length about how the virus replicates, what happens in the bloodstream and the effects on the body. Having an interest in that (in humans), I loved it. There was also some legal descriptions of how the Gloamings challenged equal opportunity and disability laws. While also interesting, I wasn’t as involved in this as some of the legalese went over my head. However, no matter the scenario, it’s clear that Raymond A. Villareal has done his homework. The level of detail is incredible, from how the Gloamings feed and sleep to the process of transformation from standard human. I was completely sucked in to the world created in this book (pun intended). I felt informed as a reader and in control in this new world, which is not something that always happens when I read a book with fantastical elements.
The only part of the story that befuddled me somewhat was the ending. It’s very loose and open to speculation, which makes me hope that there is a sequel. It seemed like the Gloamings were taking over completely with the resistance crumbling and then…it stopped. I’d love to know what happened next, because where there is an uprising, there has to be a downfall…right?
Even if you consider your reading tastes to be firmly set in reality, give this book a go. Villareal creates such a realistic world that you can’t help but take his words as fact.