Sunday, August 24, 2008

Review: Eighth Grade Bites

Eighth Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, book 1) by Heather Brewer
3 stars

Reasons for reading: thought it would be a good one to recommend to kids; Vampire book for the Triple 8 Challenge

Summary (from School Library Journal): "Vladimir Tod's is a vampire-or at least sort of; he's not quite sure. His father was a vampire, but his mother was human, and they died three years ago in a mysterious accident. Now Vlad has only his friend Henry and his "Aunt" Nelly, his mother's best friend who is raising him, to confide in. He has a hunger for blood, although he's been trained since babyhood to be "normal" and not to act on it. He gets by because Nelly, who's a nurse, brings home bags of blood from the hospital where she works, and he hides one or two in his backpack for when he gets hungry. But Vlad realizes that his father had a history he didn't know about when his English teacher vanishes mysteriously, to be replaced by a tall, thin substitute teacher in a purple top hat who seems to know a little too much about him."

First line: "A tree branch slapped John Craig across the face, scraping his skin, but he kept on running and ignored the stabbing of pine needles on his bare feet."

My thoughts:
Teenage vampire stories are all the rage these days and it's interesting to see authors are doing with the traditional lore. Most of them involve teen vamps having some kind of genetic code for vampirism that's triggered at a certain age. In this book, Vlad is a born vampire, which isn't something we see much of. It's sort of like Clark Kent in Smallville, he's going to have to grow into his powers and no-one quite knows the extent of them.

I liked the little nods to vampires in our culture throughout the book - Vlad's old house is on Lugosi Trail, vampires meet in the town of Stokerton and Vlad lives in Bathory, which I had to look up. Turns out it's a reference to Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a prolific 17th century serial killer who was said to bathe in the blood of virgins in order to retain her youth.

It's not an utterly amazing book. The characterization isn't a whole lot to write home about, for example. But (as I always seem to say with these stories) I like the twists on vampire lore, I think it has enough going on to carry over to the sequel, it's a relatively rare boy-vamp novel and it's a quick read. I'd definitely be able to recommend it to reluctant boy readers or any teen who's rabid about vampires in this age of


Cindy B said...

Not sure I'll read it, but I love the title!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Yeah, that and the happy-face vamp hoodie on the cover are what drew me in! :)

Anonymous said...

ITs so worth reading

I <3 Chronicles of Vladimir Tod said...

Truly, I don't agree that it should be rated 3 stars. It's actually a pretty good book. I used to not really like vampires, but when I read this, I wanted to BE a vampire! This book is great, and so is the sequel, "Ninth Grade Slays". I even bought this shirt that said "Screw being a princess, I wanna be a vampire!"... xD Anyways, it's worth reading, everyone. Trust me. #1 fan right here. =)

Anonymous said...

Awsome book love the title