Eighth Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #1) – Heather Brewer
Genre: YA; Paranormal; Urban Fantasy
Summary: Middle school is the stuff that nightmares are made of for pretty much everyone, and thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod is no exception. Not only does he have to deal with the normal trials and tribulations of being a teenager, but he also has a secret he’s trying to hide from everyone he knows: he’s half vampire. As Vlad tries his best to fly under the radar, strange things begin to happen around town, people begin to go missing, and a bizarre new substitute teacher takes control of his English class…and takes a special interest in Vlad. Will Vlad be exposed for what he truly is, or will he be able to continue hiding his identity from the world?
Review: Eighth Grade Bites was a decent story that moved along at a nice pace.
The story itself was a bit predictable for me, and I was hoping that things would take a different, surprising turn because the events therein seemed so obvious. Perhaps there is more to the story than meets the eye, however, as I’m sure other avenues are explored in the subsequent books, and appearances may prove to be deceiving.
I didn’t feel particularly attached to any of the characters, with the exception of Otis. Otis was rather intriguing and whimsical, and I enjoyed that I could never quite figure out what his true intentions were. In a way, he kind of reminded me of Sirius Black from Harry Potter (who was one of my favorite characters in the series), but unlike Sirius, I’m left to wonder if he really is who he says he is. The other characters, including Vlad, didn’t seem real enough to me, and I had a hard time sympathizing with any of them. I’m sure more character development happens in later books, but in Eighth Grade Bites, the characters fell a bit flat.
One thing that kind of drove me crazy was the focus on food throughout. I thought it was funny the first time Vlad’s diet was mentioned, but after being beaten over the head with it 3435 times, the joke started to get a bit boring and didn’t really seem relevant to the story. He drinks blood; we get it!
Despite its flaws, Eighth Grade Bites did have some really great things, too. Although I didn’t sympathize with the characters, I thought the author did a great job of capturing the middle school experience. Vlad dealt with bullies, crushes, friendships, and other things that go hand-in-hand with being a teenager, and many people can definitely relate to that. This book was also laced with humor, and I often found myself laughing as I read some of the dialogue or descriptions.
While it isn’t perfect, Eighth Grade Bites would be a great read for middle or high school students, especially boys or reluctant readers, as they could probably relate to many of the situations within the book (well, not being a vampire, of course, but the experiences of Vlad as a student). This would also be worth looking into if you enjoy YA urban fantasies.
Other Books in this Series: Ninth Grade Slays (Book 2), Tenth Grade Bleeds (Book 3), Eleventh Grade Burns (Book 4), Twelfth Grade Kills (Book 5)
Read-alikes: Cirque du Freak series – Darren Shan, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling, City of Bones– Cassandra Clare