Book Review | V Wars edited by Jonathan Maberry

V Wars, edited by Jonathan Maberry, is a collection of stories set in the same world but written by a bevy of talented authors. 

In the world Maberry creates in V Wars, a prehistoric virus has been released from polar ice, awakening recessive genes in the human genome. The virus triggers changes in some humans, awakening physical changes that are varied and dramatic. Before long, vampires walk among us. Some are benign; many are not.

Maberry’s collection of tales does well and more credibly what X-Men (at least the movies–I’m not familiar with the comics) tries to do: it portrays a genetic mutation that changes a portion of humanity, causing ostracization, fear, violence, and, of course, government action. I’ve always been dubious about what the reaction to the X-Men. After all, the powers they have seem to be magical and useful. On the other hand, the mutations in V Wars result in a change that seems to drive its mutants to, well, suck blood.

That seems a bit more against the public interest than the power to start fires, freeze objects, levitate, or any of the other number of changes that Stan Lee’s X-Men undergo.

Maberry does an excellent job tying the stories together with a common story that intersperses the tales. While the majority of the stories seem to take place in and around the American northeast, especially New York City, V-Wars treats readers to a semi-global perspective, with stories from the American southern border with Mexico, in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains, and one that crisscrosses the globe, starting in Antarctica, jetting off to Romania, and stopping through France, too. Some times we read from the vampire’s perspective; other times, from the humans. Maberry breaks up the stories, too, giving the collection something of novel-like feeling.

As interesting as the collection is, the stories are not all created equal, and it’s part of the reason I had a hard time settling on just three stars. I wanted badly to give the book four stars–but several of the stories disappointed, even bored me.

They were few, however, and generally the stories were creative and enjoyable, if occasionally not for the faint of heart. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Stalking Anna Lei” by James A. Moore brings together legends of vampires from East Asia, as John Lei searches for his sister while navigating the dangerous world of Asian gangs amid reports of a monstrous creature that seems to be haunting his every step. Told from John’s perspective, Moore has a great voice that makes his story one of the most enjoyable, and his plotting makes the final twist satisfying and unexpected.

“Vulpes” by Gregory Frost begins in Antarctica and trails Ruksana back to her home in Romania. Beware, though: when the change comes to her, the results are anything but vampiric.

Yvonne Navarro’s “Epiphany” asks what happens when society’s most weak go through the vampiric change, trading vulnerabilities for superhuman power. Red Moon is the orphaned daughter of Native Americans, raped, pregnant, and infected by the virus. Beset by changes she cannot explain, she finds herself on the edge of motherhood in a world that threatens to destroy her for the changes that have come over her.

V-Wars deserves a second installment. It is, in many ways, only the opening chapter in the new world that emerges as vampire and human eye each other and wonder if they will live together or in conflict.

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Book Review | V Wars Book Cover Book Review | V Wars
Edited by Jonathan Maberry. With stories by John Everson, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Scott Nicholson, Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, James A. Moore, Gregory Frost
Science Fiction/Horror
IDW Publishing
July 10, 2012

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.

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.

  • I felt that there were a few that just didn’t fit as well. I think if some of the edges were smoothed out a bit to have them fit together better it would have made for a much better read. Still I certainly enjoyed the ones I did like =)

  • There were some good ones in there, it’s true. I do wish that we had gotten past origins and into an actual war. The whole book seemed focused more on the outbreak than the coming conflict.

  • V-WARS: BLOOD AND FIRE picks up where the first volume ends, and chronicles the actual war. New contributors include Kevin J. Anderson, Scott Sigler, Weston Ochse, Joe McKinney, and Larry Correia. And I’m writing a war-themed V-WARS comic, which debuts in May. We’re also in discussions for a TV series.

    • Woot, woot! And featuring some of my favorite authors, too! Thanks for stopping by, Jonathan. I can’t wait to read V-Wars:Blood and Fire.

  • This sounds really cool. I don’t think I’ve come across a book of stories set in the same world but written by different authors before. I really like the concept. I enjoy paranormal books sometimes but am often annoyed by the lack of proper explanation as to where the creatures originated from. I like books that try to explain it in scientific (or pseudo-scientific) terms rather than mythological/supernatural.

    • Word, Tizzy. You’re going to get all of that, and more, in V Wars. The caveat? It’s a little gruesome at points. But lots of great stories.