At the start of Villareal’s enjoyable if derivative first novel, CDC virologist Lauren Scott travels to Nogales, Ariz., where she visits the city morgue to examine a body “exhibiting unusual hemophilia bruising and intradermal contusions.” To her annoyance, the body has apparently been stolen, but another has since arrived at the morgue bearing the identical pattern of bruising. Lauren notices two puncture marks on this new body near the carotid artery. Sure enough, the evidence suggests that vampires—who prefer to be known as gloamings—have invaded the U.S. Lauren eventually joins Hugo Zumthor, the FBI agent in charge of the Gloaming Crimes Unit, and John Reilly, a Catholic priest, in contending with the gloamings, who are struggling for their political rights. Genre fans may have fun recognizing the influence of such notable predecessors as Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series, Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain, and Max Brooks’s World War Z. That 20th Century Fox and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps have secured film rights bodes well for this solid supernatural thriller. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (June)
What would happen if vampirism became a desired condition, with such enthusiastic converts as Taylor Swift and the Pope? In his epic horror debut, Villareal imagines such a future. When the Nogales organic blood illness (NOBI for short) begins to sweep first through a modern-day United States and then the world, scientists quickly realize that "Gloamings," as some vampires start to call themselves, are temptation personified, have astounding physical capabilities, and can live up to 300 years. They also have a taste for blood and an aversion to sunlight. Soon tensions rise, and clear lines are drawn between those who support the Gloamings and those who fear or despise them. The tale is told from multiple perspectives—a detained Jesuit priest, an FBI agent—but framed by the accounts of young CDC virologist Dr. Lauren Scott. Readers will quickly become engrossed in this detailed, ambitious oral history. VERDICT A completely captivating, imaginative, and at times genuinely terrifying read from start to finish. For fans of Max Brooks's World War Z or Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.—Kaitlin Frick, New York Public Library
The oral history of the bloody beginnings of a worldwide vampire revolt.This debut novel by attorney Villareal has already been the subject of a six-figure bidding war for film rights—not a surprise, considering that this horror epic takes roughly the same approach to bloodsuckers Max Brooks applied to zombies in World War Z (2006). It starts when CDC virologist Lauren Scott is summoned to Nogales, Arizona, to examine the dead body of a girl named Liza Sole. The soon-undead victim quickly decides to split, but not before Scott gets a sense of her: "Temptation in human form." Scott quickly finds that her discovery, Nogales organic blood illness, or NOBI, does indeed grant its victims fangs, an aversion to the sun, and a life span up to 300 years. As the NOBI infection spreads, these vampires, now identifying as "Gloamings," start to aggressively demand equal rights, despite the growing tide of bloodless bodies in the street. The risky process of making a vampire by passing on the virus is dubbed "re-creation" and attracts enthusiasts from Taylor Swift to the pope. Villareal handles his sexy vampires well, giving them interesting abilities and aspects without granting immortality. Elsewhere, the book follows Hugo Zumthor, the FBI agent in charge of the Gloaming Crimes Unit; a radicalized anti-Gloaming Catholic sect; and Joseph Barrera, a slick political operative whose life is upended when he joins the campaign of the first Gloaming candidate for governor. Some of the story's elements (read: religious conspiracy) may seem derivative, but overall it offers a wide-ranging, readable thrill ride for fans of the genre. While the book fails to match the sociopolitical insights of World War Z, it delivers a spectacularly creepy ecosphere, not to mention some genuinely horrifying frights. Interstitial elements like magazine articles and social media posts help augment Villareal's ambitious worldbuilding.The start of a vampire epic and a strong contender in the genus of apocalypse fantasy.
"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." (3 out of 4 stars)
"Relentlessly clever first novel...Villareal's cheeky blend of political satire and gothic thriller is enhanced by his background as an attorney and his deft use of convincing details...This wild ride of a novel proves that each era gets the vampires it deserves."The Washington Post
"A full-on vampire infestation - or is it a colonization? - hits Earth, as documented in this zippy read via a clever series of narratives, interviews, historical documents, and newspaper reports."Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe
"Strikingly original . . . Daring, exciting . . . It's a wild ride in this world Villareal has created. . . . In 1976 with Interview with the Vampire Anne Rice smashed and recreated vampire mythology and lorebeginning a new era of vampire literature. Now perhaps it is A People's History of the Vampire Uprising's time to reinvent the genre."Désirée Zamorano, Los Angeles Review of Books
New York Post "20 Best Reads for Your Summer Break"
"This page-turner is just shy of being too smart for its own good."The Texas Observer
Included in Lit Hub's "Crime Reads" round up for the "Summer's Most Anticipated Crime, Mystery, and Thrillers,"
"Using vampires as stand-ins for those who experience other-ing by the state and as a way to explore growing xenophobia in the United States today"Lit Hub
"A wide-angle, wild and weird exploration of politics, pop culture, and a diseased America. This tale of misguided hero worship and encroaching terror may be the perfect analogy for our own strange times."Thomas Mullen, author of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Darktown
"Told in the jumbled, frenetic urgency of a discarded case file, this is the history of both a social movement and a vector for disease. Mr. Villareal's vampires are not the ones we find most comforting. They are not seductive or beautiful or tormented anti-heroes. No, they are more terrifying than anything like that, an infection that will spread throughout our body politic, our institutions, our history, and ourselves."Paul Park, author of The White Tyger and All Those Vanished Engines
"A major document dumpand that's a good thing! We have it all here: a complete oral history of how our worldour specieschanged forever. Raymond Villareal's sense of fun is palpable as he plays with legal thrillers; good, old, dogged police work; international intrigue; hard science; dirty politics; and, yes, classic, heart-stopping horror. Somewhere, Dracula himself is sitting up late into the day enjoying the hell out of this."John Griesemer, author of Signal & Noise and filmmaker of the web series Parmalee
"A People's History of the Vampire Uprising is that rarest of rare creatures, an absolutely unique work of the writer's art that, while drawing on several distinct streams of narrative style, emerges from all of those rivers without any parallels... Villareal starts this brilliant sideways take on the vampire genre by setting up 'The Gloamings'his sardonic name for the vampire changelings that are the book's driving forceas a problem for, get this, the Center for Disease Control, a wittyand riskytake that, in less skilled hands, could have forced the book into a narrative box car on a one-way track to Been There Ville. Because Villareal has the skills to hold several competing plot-lines and a cast of intriguing characters in his head and the talent to deal them out with economy, style, and a sardonic wit, the book becomes, among other gonzo things, a political parable for these lunatic times, a horror story, a trip down some of the darkest corridors of The Ancient World, and finally, an oddly epiphanic take on what it means, exactly, to be human. It cries out to be made intonot a movieit's too good for thatbut into a television series, and when this happens, and it will, I'll be binge-watching it.
Well done, Raymond Villareal. Welcome to the world of writers, and may God save your immortal soul."Carsten Stroud, author of Niceville
This first novel is told through alternating perspectives of those who witness and survive a vampire epidemic caused by the newly discovered NOBI virus. These vampires, or Gloamings, quickly advocate for equal rights within human society, mirroring many of the immigration conversations occurring in America today. The Gloamings are also searching for their origin story, a constant red-blood food source, and a solution to the sun's destructive light. The Centers for Disease Control is the first to discover the NOBI virus, launching the agency into a national debate on whether "curing" it is on par with genocide. There's media coverage, famous people "recreating" as Gloamings, and additional plot points about the discovery of a secret blood bank, a ploy to purchase uranium, and pharmaceutical company sabotage. VERDICT Comparisons to Max Brooks's World War Z are inevitable but unworthy. This dense plot is best suited for hard-core fans of vampire fiction who will appreciate the relevant discussions on human (and vampire) rights. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]—Tina Panik, Avon Free P.L., CT