Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Something You Can Sink Your Teeth Into: Eighth Grade Bites

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer
Dutton Children's Books, 2007

Once upon a time, not that long ago on this very blog, I said something along the lines that I've read vampire books before and I did NOT like them. I'm really regretting having said that now because it was really unfair to generalize. And as it turns out, it's not that I don't like vampire books, I just didn't like that particular one.

My mind has recently been changed though by Heather Brewer and a thirteen year old boy named Vlad.

In the premiere novel of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, readers are introduced to the titular Vlad at the beginning of eighth grade. He's bullied. His parents died three years ago. His only friend is Henry, but Vlad always feels like he's in Henry's shadow because Henry's the most popular guy in school. And as if all of that weren't enough to have on your plate, Vlad is half-human, half-vampire, he's pretty sure his parents were murdered because his father was a vampire, and there's something awfully suspicious about his new substitute teacher, Mr. Otis Otis.

It's going to be a long year for Vlad.

Heather and me
There are so many different things about this book that I enjoyed. I liked that we got to see everything the way Vlad does - it was so interesting to see things from the vampire's point of view. I think it also helped that there's still so much he has to learn about being a vampire, so we're learning right along with him. I loved the character of Aunt Nelly and showing how much of a difference having love and support at home can help even when things feel awful. I loved the story, the twists on vampire legends, the pop-culture references to other vampire media, and the fact that the book actually covers a lot of issues that any human can relate to. Though I wasn't bullied to the extent that Vlad is, junior high was hardly a picnic for me either. Everything about that time in life just feels Awkward and messed up and getting through a mundane day can even be exhausting. Brewer does a fantastic job at tapping into those years that some of us would rather forget and with the exception of the whole blood-drinking thing, I was able to identify with Vlad page after page after page.

Plus Heather gave me a t-shirt, tote bag, and took a picture with me! This woman rocks.

So if you're like me and are extremely apprehensive about some of the fads that come and go in fiction (such as vampires), had a bad experience, and swore them off forever, trust me when I say I think you really ought to reconsider. Perhaps you just haven't found the right vampire for you yet. Even though being a teenager can bite sometimes, Eighth Grade Bites reminded me that imagination and being open to something new can be just the thing to help you get through. It got me into my 20s fairly unscathed =)

Comments welcome, and as always, happy reading!

Heather Brewer's Website
Heather Brewer on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment