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Review: Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

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Eighth Grade Bites (Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #1) by Heather Brewer
Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Vampires
Trade Paperback (PUFFIN, 192 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0142411876
Vlad has to keep his vampire urges under control while dealing with the pressures of middle school.
Thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod really hates junior high. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: He’s being hunted by a vampire killer.

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Being a teen vampire sucks. (4 stars)

Vladimir Tod could be your average teenager. He has a crush on one of the pretty, popular girls, the school bullies enjoy pushing him around and hanging out with his best friend is much more fun than doing homework. He'd be pretty normal except... Vlad is a vampire.

After his human mother and vampire father were killed in a strange, unexplainable housefire he went to live with his mom's closest friend, Aunt Nelly. Clever and loving she makes sure her ward wears his sunblock and drinks his O positive but there are some things even she can't protect him from. When his English teacher goes missing and a substitute takes his place, Vlad begins to suspect that the sub has figured out his secret. As he tries to figure out the mystery behind the substitute Vlad begins to find out more about his vampire heritage and worse—that his parents death was no accident and he might be next!

Funny, light-hearted and at times touching, I really enjoyed this first installment in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series. Vlad is definitely a very likable character because though he's a vampire he's also very much a teen boy. His relationship with his guardian, Aunt Nelly, likely won't appeal to the young adult audience as much as his friendship with Henry but I thought it was a great dynamic. All too often we see orphaned characters taken in by cruel, unloving relatives and this change was really refreshing. In contrast Vlad and Henry's friendship is a study in opposites. Though very different from one another they make a good team.

Because the plot of this story is fairly easy to follow without any huge confusing twists I would definitely suggest it for a reluctant reader. The humor is clean but still entertaining too, which is sure to appeal to boys looking for a place to dip their toes into the raging vampire fiction trend without being choked by flowery, overly serious romantic themes. As a whole I thought the book was a terrific quick read that is definitely geared to the young adult audience but could appeal to moms (or dads) looking to read side-by-side with their young adult.

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