Reviews for Eighth Grade Bites


Kirkus Reviews 2007 July #1
Proving that you can't have your blood and drink it too, this shallow vampire tale waffles between vamp/camp and purported somberness. Eighth-grader Vladimir has a secret: He is (he thinks) the only living vampire. Pandering Aunt Nelly, a nurse, goes to "great lengths to sneak blood from the hospital" for Vlad's vital nutrition. His parents were mysteriously murdered, and now his teacher's missing. The odd substitute suspiciously demands research on vampires. Who's stalking Vlad, and why? It's unclear which hints are real clues and which are sloppy narration. Cheesily referential names (town of Bathory; classmate Edgar Poe) and gleeful gross-outs (cookies dunked in blood) undermine the supposed gravity of Vlad's situation and lineage. Brewer evades the problematic nature of blood-sucking, hiding behind quips like Vlad's refusal to kill because "just think of the looks he might get at the next block party if he got caught. This one just tries too hard. (Fantasy. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 August #3

Brewer's first children's book, first of the planned Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, is like a Laurell K. Hamilton toned way down for the elementary school set. Vlad is miserable. His mother and vampire father died years ago in a suspicious fire, and he lives in a small town with his maternal aunt, a nurse who regularly raids the blood bank for him ("Could you get me O positive this time? That's my favorite," he nonchalantly asks her as he spoons "a big, sweet glob of half-frozen blood" into his mouth). His best friend, Henry, is the only other person who knows why Vlad is so meticulous about applying sunblock and why he brings lunch to school. But when Vlad's English teacher goes missing (readers know he's been murdered), the substitute teacher, Mr. Otis, seems uncannily wise to Vlad, leaving Vlad to worry that he may be exposed. The mystery and suspense angles never get scarier than, say, a Goosebumps installment, and the tone stays mostly light, with plenty of descriptions of Vlad's diet that are to gag for. Brewer catches the wretchedness of adolescence: the hero's crush on a classmate is dead-on in its understatement and inaction, and his friendship with Henry encompasses lots of banter and insults. The uninitiated will appreciate the ample stock of vampire lore, while the more knowledgeable will sink their teeth into the puns. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)

[Page 69]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 September

Gr 5-8-- Vladimir Tod's is a vampire-or at least sort of; he's not quite sure. His father was a vampire, but his mother was human, and they died three years ago in a mysterious accident. Now Vlad has only his friend Henry and his "Aunt" Nelly, his mother's best friend who is raising him, to confide in. He has a hunger for blood, although he's been trained since babyhood to be "normal" and not to act on it. He gets by because Nelly, who's a nurse, brings home bags of blood from the hospital where she works, and he hides one or two in his backpack for when he gets hungry. But Vlad realizes that his father had a history he didn't know about when his English teacher vanishes mysteriously, to be replaced by a tall, thin substitute teacher in a purple top hat who seems to know a little too much about him. This story comes with all the usual eighth-grade angst, and none of the characters is particularly gripping. While some vampire fans will enjoy it, others will find the way that Brewer plays fast and loose with the standard vampire lore hard to swallow. Eighth Grade Bites reads like the novelization of an unexceptional made-for-TV movie.--Walter Minkel, New York Public Library

[Page 190]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2007 October
Eighth grade is difficult enough for Vladimir Tod-he must deal with bullies, few friends, and an unrequited crush. Add to this equation that he is the orphaned son of a vampire father and human mother, and the degree of difficulty goes through the roof. A favorite teacher disappears mysteriously, prompting the arrival of a creepy substitute, Otis Otis. Vlad begins to fear that Mr. Otis knows his secret and is seeking to expose him to the whole school. After a series of terrifying encounters, Vlad discovers that there are other vampires nearby, seeking revenge against his late father for wedding a human and breaking the vampire code. After weathering several apparent changes in allegiance by Mr. Otis, Vlad must finally face the vengeful vampires that seek to end his life and the legacy of his father.This first novel in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series is an exceptional current-day vampire story. The mix of typical teen angst and dealing with growing vampiric urges make for a fast-moving, engaging story. This book will appeal to readers who have consumed Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak series as well as to fans of Stephenie Meyer's books. The cover simply oozes YA appeal, featuring Vlad in a black hoodie emblazoned with a bright red, fanged smiley face. This book is highly recommended for libraries serving middle school through high school age patrons, where it is sure to find a very enthusiastic audience among fans of vampire fiction.-Sherrie Williams 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.

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