August 8, 2009

Book Review: "Eighth Grade Bites" by Heather Brewer

Title: The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd: Eighth Grade Bites
Authors: Heather Brewer
Publisher: Dutton Children's Book
Published: 2007
Pages: 182
Genre: YA Fantasy
ISBN: 978-0-525-47811-9

Vladamir Tod is a vampire ... in his early teens. That smell overpowering your right now is angst of the highest potency. So, watch out. The cover of this book, all by it's lonesome, is enough to give you an idea of how meloncholy and misunderstood Vlad is through this story. It's like a West 49 ad designed by Twilight marks.

The story starts off in quaint fashion, as Vlad's English teacher gets offed by a mysterious vampire hunting Vlad. Chalked up as disappearance, the eight grade get a new substitute named Mr. Otis, who takes a keen interest in Mr. Tod. Meanwhile, poor ol' Vlad just wants to get all snuggly with Meredith, a girl who doesn't really come off as that much of a catch. Especially, considering she has a crush on Vlad's best friend, and sharer of Vlad's vampiric secret, Henry.

As if the teen vamp didn't feel like enough of an outcast, he starts to uncover secrets of his parents' deaths and history after discovering a strange journal in his Aunt Nelly's attic. Nelly isn't really his aunt, but a close friend to his late human mother. She's practically family, however, and adores him and cares for him. Heck, she even packs him peanut-butter-and-blood sandwiches for his school lunches.

The story is a little slow to ratchet up the suspense, for my tastes, as we spend so much of this compact tale getting to know how tormented and borderline emo Vlad is in his day-to-day life. He's funlovin' enough, and is about as close to normal with Henry as a half-vampire can be. What he lacks, however, is a support structure among his best friend and aunt, each of whom seem to find Vlad's suspsicions about Mr. Otis' intentions, the disappearance of the English teacher, and his father's journal far too fantastical and far-fetched to believe. At times, I wanted to reach through the pages and throttle Aunt Nelly and Henry, both, as they shake their heads in disbelief, even though they are consorting with a friggin' true blue vampire.

If you can suffer through the dismissiveness of the supporting characters, and Vlad's less-than-enthralling pines for Meredith, there's a decent little story to be had here. Thankfully, we get to the good stuff towards the end, even though it comes off a tad hastened, and the real action starts. As it stands, it's an okay start to what I hope is a series that improves upon itself with each installment. I have a feeling this series is best left to the youngin's while I drag my thirty-something behind to the bookshelves for something with a little more hair on its chest.


  1. HA! A story with more hair on its chest...that's a great thought. Have you read The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams? I know you're not much of a fantasy reader, but I definitely recommend it (and there are probably enough dark themes/scenes to satisfy). Pay no mind to the cheesy paperback cover...the story is actually awesome.

  2. Never heard of it, Celia. But thanks for the heads up. I'll keep an eye out for it.

  3. That smell overpowering your right now is angst of the highest potency. The exact problem with my WIP.

    Good review. :)