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Eighth Grade Bites

Review by: 
Heather Brewer
Publication Date: 
Penguin Group
Bottom Line: 

 Meet Vladimir Tod.  He’s an eight grade student facing the typical teen issues.  He has to avoid bullies, find the courage to talk to the cute girl in class, and deal with a quirky substitute teacher.  Oh, yeah, and he’s a vampire.
In “Eighth Grade Bites”, Vlad and his buddy Henry are living the teenage boy life.  They stay up way too late, chide each other over Vlad’s crush, Meredith, and pal around, getting in just the littlest amounts of trouble.  The boys’ English teacher, Mr. Craig, has gone missing for several weeks, and soon, a new teacher, Mr. Otis Otis comes to teach at Bathory Junior High.
Otis is an odd man, with a top hat and a love of mythology, and it isn’t long before Vlad fears that his secret is out.  His teacher is dropping hints in class, making friends with Vlad’s aunt, and being a snoop.  Worst of all, Otis wants each student to present on a supernatural creature, and poor Vlad has to get up in front of class as a vampire! 
Vlad is the great kind of “aw, shucks” character that readers find themselves pulling for.  He’s the ultimate underdog; a younger, equally charming Peter Parker.  As readers meet Vlad, he’s embarking on a journey into adulthood and the origin of vampires, all while trying to solve the mystery of his parents’ death.  In his search for answers, Vlad finds his father’s journal, and is soon introduced…face to face…with more than he’s ever known about his kind.
Author Heather Brewer has mixed together teen angst and murder mystery, creating an intriguing setting for her lovable lead.  Her characters each represent a key role in Vlad’s world, from pal Henry to guardian Aunt Nelly.  Bathory undoubtedly has more to it than is revealed in this first book, and she offers up just enough appetizer about vampire origin to leave readers’ mouths watering for the main course.
Brewer very cleverly works in elements of earlier vampire writings and myths, proving she’s either done her research or simply grew up loving the genre.  (I’m willing to bet on the latter.)
“Eighth Grade Bites” provides an entertaining introduction of its teen hero, with an effective mix of comedy, mystery and even a dash of gore.  Vlad certainly has his hands full in this one.  Wait till the poor guy hits High School.
For more info on Vladimir Tod and his creator, check out

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