Mini-review time! I’ve never been much of a vampire girl, but my friends kept insisting I needed to read the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer and I finally broke down and picked them up. Boy, am I ever glad I do. Vlad is unlike any vamp (well, half vampire) I have ever meet. In fact, I almost hate lumping into the whole Twlight-vampire craze; he really belongs more with someone like Harry Potty. And honesty, if Harry Potter turned into a vampire you would have Vladimir Tod. Needless to say, I devoured these books as fast as I could get them from the library. And since I read them all back-to-back I figured doing a mini-review for each book would be the best way to go…and then when the final book comes out I’ll do a normal one!
The Short of It: If you can’t tell from my intro, I loved these books. They’ve become one of my top recommendations and I’m even trying to get it on the middle-school reading program for next year! I can’t believe I missed these books and simply cannot wait for the next/last book!
Eighth Grade Bites
Publisher: Dutton Juv
Release Date: Aug. 2007
Pages: 182 pgs
Vladimir Tod is unlike any teenage boy you’ll ever meet. Yes, he’s a little gothy, sarcastic, and likes to play video games with his best friend (Henry), but, well, he also has fangs and craves blood. That’s right, Vlad is a vampire, but he’s not ordinary vampire. In fact, he’s really only half-vampire (his mother was human) and he’s sure he’s the only one left of his kind. Since his parents’ death three years ago, he’s been living with his “Aunt” Nelly and living as normal of a life as possible. That, however, becomes impossible as a new teacher joins Vlad’s middle school and begins to pay a little too much attention to Vlad. The questions Mr. Otis asks are too close to comfort and Vlad is terrified he’ll figure out his secret. Not to mention, things only get worse when he realizes there’s a vampire killer out to get him! Can Vlad manage to keep his secret under wraps and remain alive?
Eighth Grade Bites is a wonderful first book. Brewer pulls you fast into the world she has created and doesn’t let you go. Even though it was relatively short, I felt like I knew all the characters fairly well. I adore Vlad and his sarcastic wit. I mean all the jokes about vampire and the whole “Vampires Suck” t-shirt were a lot of fun. Of course, Nelly and Henry are wonderful characters as well. I wish I could have seen a little more of them, but there’s still lots of time for that! There were a couple of things I would have liked to have explained more, like the whole drudge thing, but I assumed that Brewer would flesh out the vampire rules/ways as the series progressed. The books wraps up well, but I was very anxious to see what the next book would bring Vlad.
Ninth Grade Slays
Publisher: Dutton Juv
Release Date: Apr. 2008
Pages: 278 pgs
Vlad must say good-bye to summer and his uncle Otis and hello to freshman year. Hello to the same old bullies, the wanna-be journalist nerd with a camera who tails him, and Henry’s cousin, Joss. Basically, it’s life as usually for Vlad. The only bright spot is a trip to Siberia that helps him learn new vampire abilities such as mind reading and mind control. But will these new powers be enough to conquer the newest threat in his life? Will he really be strong enough to recognize and defeat a vampire hunter? Or will he be just another vampire who finds a stake in his heart?
Ninth Grade Slays is a nice continuation to the series. I really enjoyed the new character, Joss, and was sad to see he wouldn’t be sticking around after this book. Of course, maybe I liked Joss because it reminded me of Joss Whedon (Buffy!) and felt like a total homage to him/Buffy! (No idea if is actually is though.) I also had fun seeing Vlad’s power expand and his relationship with Meredith edging into the next stage. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole prophecy/Harry Potter vibe. While I may grow tired of it fast, I’m willing to overlook it because I like Vlad so much! And, yes, the same bad guy is in the background, but it’s fun to see what other evil do-ers he can pull into his grasp. Although, in this case, I felt sorry for the slayer. He was sort of tricked into the role he played and things got way more mixed up than they should have. It’ll be interesting to see if it plays a part in the future books (which I knew it would). Again, a very nice wrap-up, but couldn’t wait to move on to the next one!
Tenth Grade Bleeds
Publisher: Dutton Juv
Release Date: June 2009
Pages: 292 pgs
Another year at Bathory High for Vlad, but things have yet to really look up for him. Yes, his long-time crush, Meredith, is now his girlfriend, but now he’s on the edge of losing his best friend. Henry has been acting distant and hanging out with the popular crowd more and more. Vlad knows that this may be the end for him and Henry, especially when he learns there is a way to release drudges. Without Henry to hang out with, Vlad finds himself spending his free time with the goth kids. He’s introduced to a new world called the Crypt where being a “vampire” is cool, but the overwhelming urge to feed makes his time there limited. Add in the chilling nightmares that D’Ablo is sending about him being tortured and bled to death and anyone can see why Vlad is having a rough time. Without his uncle or faithful friend, Vlad may be facing this latest threat all alone. Will Vlad’s nightmares become reality or will he manage to escape yet again?
Tenth Grade Bleeds may have been my least favorite of the four, but that’s not to say it wasn’t good. This is the book were the whole prophecy thing started to annoy me a bit. I was tired of D’Ablo and his schemes and I was ready for one of them to burst into flames already. (And by one of them, I mean D’Ablo.) I understand not wanting to bring in a whole new bad guy every single book, but I do go weary of him. And while I wish he were gone for gone, I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. (Are we sure Vlad is the only one who can’t die?) It really is a lot like Voldemort where I just wish he’d GO AWAY. But, eh, what I can I do; every book needs its villain. I was glad Brewer spent some time developing the Vlad-Henry relationship some more. I adore both boys and it broke my heart to see them growing distant. I was pretty worried that this would be the end of these two, something I don’t think I could have handled! And can I also just say how sweet Vlad & Meredith were? I won’t give it away, but I was sad to see what happened to them. They really were a cute couple! And the whole Crypt events could either be a big mess or a big leg up for Vlad; something I was anxious to see how it would all play out. So, while not my favorite book, still good and had enough appeal where I was ready to continue on right away.
Eleventh Grade Burns
Publisher: Dutton Juv
Release Date: Feb. 2010
Pages: 309 pgs
Life has hit a new all time low for Vladimir. Not only has Joss moved back to Bathory for good, but his uncle is to be tried and probably executed by the vampire council. Add in a weird vampire, love sick drudge, and dealing with the memories of his dead parents as they renovate his old home and Vlad’s hands are truly fully. The only bright spot is that with the upcoming trial, Otis no longer has to run and can spend more time with Vlad. While things look bleak, there is always some hope that they will be able to free Otis of all the accusations against him. Surely the council will see be able to see the truth, right? Or will Vlad be saying goodbye to the only family he has left?
Ok, hold on a moment while I scream. AHHH! So, Eleventh Grade Burns is really, really good. I enjoyed seeing Vlad and Otis’ relationship grow more than it had now that he was around a lot more. And how Vlad’s powers are developing, almost super-vampiric, is fun, too. Vlad is developing powers more and more that no one else has seen before. It all keeps leading the reader toward the fact that he is the one from the prophecy. And it was nice to see him repair his friendship with their nightly “practices” even if it is a little dangerous. And risk of spoiling anything, I’ll stop right after I say one more thing. I.Hate.Cliffhangers. And this is the MOTHER of all cliffhangers. Brewer’s only saving grace is that the last book will be out this fall, so the wait won’t be that long. (And may all the book god/goddesses hear my plea and let there be an ARC @ BEA!)
So, now it’s your turn…have you read the Vlad books? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought!