Junior high really sucks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. 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
Vlad Tod hasn’t had the easiest life. Orphaned three years previously, he lives with his later mother’s best friend Nelly, a nurse, in the quite town of Bathory. He’s the favoured target of bullies, embarrasses himself in front of his crush and now his favorite teacher has gone missing….Oh, and he’s half vampire, and his strange new substitute teacher possibly knows his secret…
Until recently Vlad thought he was the only vampire left until a recent string of disappearances makes him realize that not only is he not alone, but someone’s after him. Vlad is also only just discovering his abilities, since his vampire father died before he could share his knowledge, Vlad is on his own as he comes to understand just what he can do as well as the fact that among his kind, being a half vampire is not just unique, but unheard of.
Eighth Grade Bites is the first book in the Vladimir Tod Chronicles. Like most first books in a series we’re introduced to the characters and storyline with the promise of the big action happening later down the line. Don’t get me wrong, the last chapters of this book have action but this book mostly sets up the foundation for the next installments.
Vlad himself is a good character and besides the vampire aspect he’s a typical fourteen year old boy. He’s got his best friend Henry, he’s shy around girls and isn’t the biggest fan of school. It would have been good to see him explore his powers in a bit more depth; we touch on the fact that he can read minds, hover and has a telepathic connection to Henry after biting him when they were eight. He’s a believable character who’s still coming to terms with the loss of his parents and is slowly growing into his personality.
The storyline itself felt a bit brief and at the end the events happen quite suddenly. At points, time goes by quite fast and we skip over weeks and months without realizing it so the pace feels a bit odd with things going at an even pace in the beginning then picking up a lot of speed towards the end. The book, at 181 pages isn’t very long so a lot of the story didn’t have the kind of development it could have had particularly when we get a look into the vampire world Elysia.
This story has a lot of potential and I have a feeling it really picks up in the following books. I’d recommend it to the younger readers in the YA category, particularly for the boys, it has the right length, right amount of action, horror and humor to ease them into reading.
Publication Date: August 2007, scheduled for release in Australia August 2nd 2010
Teaser quote: “Morning, sunshine”
Vlad blinked at her. “Morning, sulfuric acid”
“Well isn’t it kinda wrong to call a vampire ‘sunshine’?”