8th Grade Bites: Chronicles of Vladimir Tod
by Heather Brewer
pub: March 2008
8th Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod) tells the story of...well...8th Grader Vladimir Tod. He has his typical junior high problems; getting picked on by bullies, pining over cute popular girls, making sure he's gotten enough blood to eat for lunch, and turning in that English assignment.
Oh yeah! He's also a vampire. Well, half. His mother was human but his father was a vampire. He doesn't know the extent of his powers, he has a craving for blood and his fangs are growing. Everyday is a struggle.
The story begins with Vlad living with his Aunt Nelly after his mother and father, who was also a vampire, die in an accidental fire...allegedly.
After his teacher goes missing Vlad gets a strange substitute teacher named Mr. Otis, but his attire and teaching methods aren't the only things strange about him. Soon Vlad is uncovering answers to his past and the death of his parents which he could have never guessed. And trying to stay alive with an assassin on his tail.
8th Grade Bites is a good book and at 182 pages it's a quick read. It didn't quite capture me. Everything seemed to go by very fast. There's a little twist near the end that I didn't even realize was supposed to be a twist because it had seemed obvious.
The characters are believable and interesting. Vlad's friendship with Henry (his best friend) is uplifting as well. Henry is the popular cool guy while Vlad is considered the weird emo nut, but Henry still hangs out and stands up for him even through the minefield that is Junior High.
Don't get me wrong, this is worth the read, but it's more middle grade than YA. The story tends to drop little hints that are rather obvious and you will probably go, "That was the reveal? I got that a few chapters ago." The series progresses every year as Vlad makes his way through school, but I'm sure that as the readers get older the writing will too.
All in all, it's worth checking out just know that it's geared more toward a younger teen audience. With so many books marketed toward girls, I genuinely appreciate that 8th Grade Bites is a fun adventure written from a guy's point of view and geared toward guys as well as girls.
Gregory read 9th Grade Slays (stay tuned for his upcoming review) and he'll go for 10th Grade Bleeds while I'll look forward to 11th Grade Burns coming out next month. I'll be interested in how the writing progresses and if I can relate better to the 11th grader.
The Cover: Can't say I love it. I wish it had something more visually exciting. I find it bland.
First Lines: A tree branch slapped John Craig across the face, scraping his skin, but he kept on running and ignored the stabbing of pine needles on his bare feet. He could hear the man's footsteps behind him, echoing his own.
Decent start. I like that I'm immediately into action and it seems like this guy is running for his life so I'm interested in reading more.