Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod books are making their first appearance in Australia this year, having been previously published in the US by various Penguin imprints. I’m surprised they’ve taken this long to reach our shores, given the explosion of paranormal young adult fiction in the past few years, but they seem to be a good addition to the bookshelves.
Vladimir Tod is a 13-year-old vampire, but only two people in the whole world know this. His vampire father and human mother died three years earlier, and he’s been living with his “Aunt” Nelly (his mother’s best friend), a nurse who keeps him supplied with blood bags. With his best friend Henry by his side, Vlad navigates bullies at school, a crush on a nice girl, and growing up, none of which are easy. But then his favourite teacher disappears, and the strange substitute who takes his place starts to make Vlad feel very uneasy.
In truth, Brewer presents little that is new in this first book – the trope of orphaned Other child is frequent in many genres (although having a kindly guardian isn’t always the case, which makes me wonder if Nelly will evolve into something more as the series continues), and for the experienced reader, most of the plot is fairly well telegraphed. For the target market though – and I would happily recommend this for ages 10 and up – it’s an ideal story. Vlad is nicely nerdy, while still having his own strength, and as he begins to understand his past and grow into his power, the changes are interesting to watch.
I found myself comparing Eighth Grade Bites to Darren Shan, will far less graphic violence, and would suggest these books to younger fans who enjoyed that series.