Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Book Review - "V Wars" by Jonathan Maberry, et. all
V Wars editing and compiled by Jonathan Maberry is an interesting take on the vampire lore. In it, a virus known as I1V1 has caused recumbent DNA to start to surface in some individuals, turning them into a variety of vampires. Perhaps the most intriguing part of all this is that the nature of the vampirism varies based on the persons cultural background, matching at least parts of the local folk lore of the vampire. With this great concept in place, Maberry sets forth and gathers some amazing horror authors to bring his concept to life.
V Wars features such authors as Maberry himself and continues to add an impressive line-up from there. My favorite author in the anthology is John Everson who writes an amazing tale worthy of his talent in "Love Less." Also in the lineup is Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, Keith R.A. DeCandido (with an amazing tale of vampirism and politics), Scott Nicholson, Gregory Frost, and James A. Moore. All of these authors succeed in bringing their "A" game to the table and weave some amazing tales of a world coming to grips with the stuff of legend while facing the outbreak of a war with these same creatures. Unfortunately, for all of the great work in the individual stories, including by Maberry himself, the story never feels like a single work.
V Wars is an example of a case where a whole is not always equal to, or better then, the sum of its parts. While there are some really cool things done conceptually and in the writing of the independent authors contributing to this work, the book itself never really feels like it comes together into one story. This is perhaps the risk of trying to weave together a single tale from so many stories from different authors with very different writing styles. Instead of going the traditional route in an anthology and letting each story tell from beginning to end, Maberry instead tries a path more like World War Z and tries to weave the stories together throughout the book. Each story, including Maberry's own which is meant to serve as a link between all the tales, in broken into two to three parts (six parts in the case of Maberry's tale). This makes it difficult at times to follow the flow of the book as there is little transition between stories or styles. The book never seems to transcend being multiple stories put together with a similar theme. Maberry misses his opportunity to really tie all of the stories together in the end, leaving the reader feeling slightly disappointed considering all that Maberry had to work with, including his own talent, on this project. Spelling and grammatical errors throughout make it even more difficult to follow the story at times as one has to go back to try to make sense of what they have read. For all these complaints, I must stress that this is still a very worthwhile read in many ways.
If you are a fan of any author in the anthology, you owe it to yourself to read this book. As I stated earlier, each author truly brings their "A" game. I picked up this book because of being a big fan of Maberry and Everson and was not disappointed. After reading "Love Lost," I would truly like to see Everson tackle this story in his own individual book and follow his thread further. Despite my criticisms of the book as a whole, it still serves as a very good read and just the chance to see all of these variations of vampires makes for a high entertainment value. I would personally love to see a sequel and would gladly read a continuation of this story. Hopefully, if such a sequel ever does come to light, Maberry will take the opportunity to fix the problems with this volume and can give us the book that V Wars truly had the potential to be.
Before I give my ratings, I need to stress that the only way to judge a work like this is to look at it as a whole. Were I to take the individual stories by each author, all would likely earn close to all 5/5. I will do my best here to represent the book as a whole:
Story Concept - 5/5
Story Execution - 3/5
Story Flow - 3/5
Character Development (give-a-damn factor) - 4/5
Gripping visuals/details - 5/5
Entertainment Value/Story Engagement - 4/5
Editing (including grammar and spelling) - 3/5
Overall - 3.9/5 - Recommend this read