(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
A sweeping, threaded narrative of the global phenomenon known as the Vampire Wars! Mankind is silently infected by a millennia-old bacteria unknowingly exhumed by a scientific expedition in Antarctica. Now, in some rare cases, a person’s so-called “junk DNA” becomes activated, and depending on their racial and ethnic heritage they begin to manifest one of the many diverse forms of the “others” that are the true basis for the legends of supernatural creatures. These aren’t your usual vampires and werewolves – it goes much deeper than that. Conceived by Jonathan Maberry, V Wars features stories from various “frontlines” as reported by such contributors as Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, James A. Moore, Gregory Frost, John Everson, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Scott Nicholson (as well as Maberry himself, of course). The result is a compelling series of tales that create a unique chronicle of mankind’s response to this sudden, hidden threat to humanity.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
As much as I hate to compare the two books, there really is only one way to describe V-Wars: a poorly done vampire version of World War Z.
At first I absolutely loved the idea of Jonathon Maberry compiling stories from other authors and weaving them together to create a narrative of a vampire outbreak. I mean, it’s Jonathon Maberry! He did zombies so well in Dust & Decay that I was sure V-Wars was going to be a hit. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the main thing that frustrated me was not so much the premise but the fact that I kept asking myself while reading: Could there possibly be a more complicated way to tell this story?! We actually follow the stories of quite a few characters but the table of contents seems to have been drawn up by a child picking story names randomly out of a hat. The vampire virus came out of Antarctica from a scientific expedition but we only actually meet the people who started the outbreak at the end of the novel. There is neither rhyme nor reason to the chronology or when a new character would pop up to tell their story. Or their stories would end randomly and we never heard from them again.
This lack of a logical timeline certainly affected my enjoyment of the story. Sure, some of the characters were compelling, but others were just plain boring. Besides, it’s hard to actually connect with characters when they randomly disappear, are forgotten, or barely get any page time at all. Michael Fayne would have been interesting if his story was told in a more linear fashion and I suppose Ruksana was compelling, but again there’s the seemingly random order of the stories messing everything up. This book is only 384 pages and yet I felt like I was reading a 1000+ page book where the novelist has decided to include the viewpoints of a cast of characters worthy of George R. R. Martin.
Due to the illogical ordering, I really had a hard time getting into V-Wars. Some stories were fast-paced and others were unbearably dull. It was sort of like getting an old car to start on a cold morning: just when you think you’re ready to go it dies on you. There is no real climax, no peak of the vampire war that makes you think humanity is doomed. Instead, the ending is ambiguous with Luther Swann basically saying that there are more vampires out there not declaring themselves and that humanity is probably in trouble if they keep persecuting them.
Overall, as much as I hate to say it, V-Wars was a flop for me. I wouldn’t recommend it; you’re better off reading World War Z, which is at least told in a logical order.
I give this book 1.5/5 stars.