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Book Review

Book Cover

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod
Eighth Grade Bites


Author: Heather Brewer
Razor Bill / Penguin
RRP: £6.99, US $7.99
ISBN: 978 0 1413 3406 6
Available 03 January 2011

Vlad would be your normal junior high school kid - desiring a girl that fancies his best friend, beset by bullies and generally trying to survive school - if it wasn’t for the fact that he was also a vampire. Living with his aunt, following the mysterious death of his parents, Vlad feels particularly close to only one of his teachers, a teacher that has also disappeared. As Vlad attempts to unravel the mystery of his past he quickly realises that other forces have invaded his town and they are hunting him...

Eighth Grade Bites is the first in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series of vampire novels, written by Heather Brewer. The book is aimed at the twelve to fourteen year old bracket.

When we first meet Vlad he is doing what most thirteen year olds do, hanging out with his friend, Henry, the only other person apart for his Aunt who knows his secret. Much of the first half of the book is taken up with setting the scene, before the action really gets going. The problem is that so much time is devoted to this part of the plot that when the action does take place it feels like too little too late. However, this is only really a problem for an adult reader, I’m sure that the target audience will revel in identifying the same existential angst that all teens seem to share.

I guess it depends what you are looking for in a book, certainly Vlad has little to do with the European tradition of vampires, apart for the appropriation of a few motifs. Vlad joins the legion of American vampires, usually sporting black hair and moping around bemoaning their lot, which are metaphors for the outsider. And, like other novels which appeals to young people, it follows the manifesto that to be an outsider is a good thing as the majority crowd are little more than mindless sheep. There is little attempt to give any of the characters who belong to the school's majority any depth.

The book is written fairly well, though I cannot comment on the accuracy of the author's portrayal of a thirteen year old American school boy, certainly I don’t remember this much angst in my own youth. Ms Brewer is obviously a fan of the genre as she inserts all sorts of references, the problem with this is that her young audience are not likely to get them and an older audience will find them a little heavily handled.


Charles Packer

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