Author: Heather Brewer
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, vol. 1
In a lot of ways, Vlad Tod is your average kid hanging out with his best friend, Henry, and dealing with school bullies, awkward crushes, and his guardian Nellie’s embarrassing mothering. In other ways, not so normal–levitating, mind-reading, and bring peanut-butter-and-type-O-positive sandwiches for lunch don’t quite fall into the typical junior-high repertoire. But then, most kids aren’t hiding the fact that they’re half vampire–without much of any knowledge of how the whole vampire thing works and without anyone around who can teach them! Still, Vlad gets along pretty well . . . at least until his English teacher disappears and is replaced by someone who shows all-too avid an interest in the mythological.
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by Eighth Grade Bites. Maybe my expectations were a bit low, but this was actually quite a decent story; a solid vampire story, but significantly (thank goodness!) different from the majority of the Twilight-knockoff vampire romances saturating the market currently. The writing style is reminiscent of authors like D. J. MacHale, Rick Riordan, and even some of J. K. Rowling’s earlier writing. I enjoyed the characters and found the plot to be relatively strongly character driven–a huge plus in my book. Vlad is overall a nice kid who has solid, legitimate relationships with his guardian and his best friend, both of whom are also really neat people. The treatment of the vampire theme is well done also; Brewer doesn’t go out on a limb and create a bunch of new standards, but she works with the established norms in creative ways, weaving them into a teenager’s daily life with amusing effect. Finally, the plot was well-balanced; strong characters pull the story along, but there’s a nice element of suspense and thrill also. I don’t think it’s an instant classic, but Eighth Grade Bites is a fun, exciting light-novel sort of story; I intend to read the rest of the series.