Eighth Grade Bites, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod – Heather Brewer

“’Where’s the boy? Where’s Vlad?’
John wriggled. The man’s face was near his. Cold breath beat down on the back of his neck and something sharp grazed against his skin.
‘Tell me or die.’
John opened his mouth to speak, but it was too late for lies. The man bit down. Fangs popped though john’s skin, cutting deep into his neck.”
Vladimir Tod is a 13 year old vampire. He lives with his Aunt Nelly since his parents died three years earlier. He doesn’t know how the accident happened but he escaped unscathed from the fire in his home. He has survived on packets of blood smuggled out of the hospital and uncooked steaks. Having only “fed” once.
Other than his Vampire tendencies he leads a perfectly normal life, he goes to school, has a laugh with his best friend Henry, gets bullied by the bigger lads and has a crush on one of the prettiest girls in school. The only thing he really has to worry about is his secret getting out to the rest of the school; until his teacher goes missing and the substitute gives Vlad a strange, knowing feeling.
I had heard good things about The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod and even though it’s not something I would usually pick up I thought I’d give the first book a go anyway. I’m really glad I did though as it gave me a light-hearted, quick, fun read.
Eighth Grade Bites is really funny, the friendship between Vlad and Henry is a brilliant reflection of boys this age, how they wind each other up and Henry always has a witty come back, but would still be there for Vlad no matter what. I loved their friendship so much cos even though Henry knows Vlad’s secret you can tell that he would never give it up. It was a great representation.
Unfortunately I couldn’t properly loose myself within the story, I kept forgetting that the book was for younger readers and the characters are a bit younger than you find in YA books so this threw me a little. The boys are only 13/14 and I’m used to 16/17 year olds. I am a bit annoyed that I’ve get this book out the library though, I think I may have to buy it for my boyfriend’s son, as a (just turned) 11 year old I really think he’d enjoy this book a lot.
I liked the story a lot, it was light-hearted and even though Vlad had his hunches about Otis there wasn’t a lot of action. This was a bit disappointing as the first chapter was very action packed but I liked it all the same. It was a story about growing up and dealing with changes whilst introducing the beginning of a series. I think the action will probably come in the sequels.
I would very much recommend this book to anyone who has kids, especially boys, in the MG age. It is a brilliant example of great writing for this age group and I’d happily give it to my (kinda) stepson. I think it’s very much targeted at boys though, or girls who are tomboys (like I was at 11!)
Eighth Grade Bitesin the first in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, it was released in the UK this year along with the second in the series Ninth Grade Slays
The third and fourth books in the series, Tenth Grade Bleeds and Eleventh Grade Burns are due for release within the first halve of 2011, please see penguin UK’s website for details. 


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