Greetings, all. I pondered over which book I would review first and finally narrowed it down to two that I read recently. My first choice (which I’ll save for later) also dealt with the topic of bullying, so instead I’ll introduce you to a series that revolves around another popular topic—vampires! Don’t get me wrong—I was very hesitant to jump on the vampire bandwagon, but a teacher friend of mine recommended Heather Brewer’s The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod to me. Vladimir Tod is not exactly your everyday teen—the son of a vampire dad and a human mom, Vlad just wants to fit in at his school in Bathory. The series includes 5 books with one for each grade from 8th to 12th (similar to the Harry Potter series). Obviously, you’ll want to start with the first book, Eighth Grade Bites.
Author: Heather Brewer
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Publication Date: August 16, 2007
AR Levels: Interest Level--6th+; Book Level--5.4; Points--7.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/530848.Eighth_Grade_Bites
In a nutshell: Vlad seems like the typical 8th grade boy. He has a pair of bullies on his tail, a principal who watches him like a hawk, and a best friend who has the hots for the girl of Vlad’s dreams; what most people don’t know, though, is that Vlad’s a vampire and that he’s living with his aunt after his parents’ mysterious death. On top of the Junior High mayhem and his own secrets, Vlad’s favorite teacher goes missing and the creepy sub informs him that he knows Vlad’s true identity, although Vlad himself doesn’t actually know much about being a vampire. All he wants to do is blend in, but now he must protect his secret and solve the mystery surrounding his teacher, all while trying to pass and survive 8th grade. . . which is no easy task! Now, don’t think this is just another knockoff of Twilight—Eighth Grade Bites has moments that are downright hilarious and others that will have you on the edge of your seat. This is a quick read that will leave you wondering what can possibly happen next!
I’d Recommend It for Grades: 6th + (The first book is the tamest of the series, but the content matures with Vlad.)
I’d Recommend It To: Anyone who’s felt different or who’s carried a big secret and fans of other fantasy series like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. Also, I would recommend it to anyone who likes books about vampires, but especially to those not on the Twilight train (In the 5th book, Vlad notes that “Vampires, after all, don’t sparkle.”)
What I Liked Most About This Book: Vlad may be a vampire, but the author presents him as a typical teenager; he and the other characters in the book seem like people who you might actually encounter walking down the halls of a school. The book isn’t overly dramatic but, instead, includes just the right amount of teen angst, drama, humor, and suspense.
Single Favorite Moment (without getting spoiler-y): I’m a sucker for a good pun, so I thought one conversation between Vlad and his substitute teacher Mr. Otis was downright funny. Mr. Otis keeps asking personal questions to Vlad and tells him that the answers are his business, to which Vlad responds, “Well, pardon the pun, Mr. Otis, but you can bite me.”
Star Rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): I’m giving this one a 4.
***Side Note: If you like this series, Brewer is working on a spin-off series based on one of the characters you'll meet in Book 2. (Review pending!)***