Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review: Eighth Grade Bites

Title Eighth Grade Bites The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Series (Book #1)
Author Heather Brewer
Genre YA Science Fiction
Rating B-

Summary Vladimir (Vlad) Tod is your average, everyday eighth grade vampire with two dead parents and a human best friend. He lives with his "Aunt" Nelly, slogs through school, and stresses about girls. All while trying to figure out why people around him are disappearing.

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."

Review I have a mixed review about this book. I liked pretty much all of the characters--I'm hoping they get fleshed out a little more in future books (which is a big advantage of series). I enjoyed the way that Brewer freshened up the vampire lore in the book--vampires can go out in sunlight if they wear sunblock and vampires can eat normal human food (in addition to drinking blood from various sources)--while also giving a nod to the traditional--they tend to be most productive at night, they can levitate, and their fangs retract and descend depending on their "thirst." Also Vlad is half human (his mom was a human), so he ages, which should be interesting to see.

I also liked the generalized plot of the book, watching Vlad navigate the treacherous world of Junior High (where bullies and girls that make his tongue twist are in abundance) mixed in with the surreal story line of Vlad figuring out who killed his parents and his teacher and why he might be in danger. I also thought quite a bit of the events of the story were pretty realistic for how Junior High guys might act and think.

On the subject of "believability" for eighth grade: I wasn't super crazy about some of the dialogue--it was just a little stilted and not as clever as Brewer's prose. It came off as more Middle Grade fiction, instead of YA. Sure, you might be thinking that Vlad is in 8th grade, perhaps that is Middle Grade, except that this is the first in the series--Vlad goes on to high school in future books. I'm not sure, perhaps Brewer was just trying to allow Vlad's dialogue to grow up as he does, but it felt pretty juvenile at times. We'll see how that goes as the series progresses.

(Tip: I've started reading the second book in this series, Ninth Grade Slays, and Brewer--bless her heart--isn't doing too much back-story information dump, so check out Eighth Grade Bites first. You'll be glad you did.)

Recommendation Fans of the vampire Sci-Fi sub-genre who want a male protagonist who neither sparkles nor is a gentleman (cough *Edward Cullen* cough).

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