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Sunday, July 18, 2010

'Chronicles of Vladimir Tod' series by Heather BREWER

Received from the publisher


'Eighth Grade Bites' book #1
'Ninth Grade Slays' book #2



From the BLURB:


Junior high really sucks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: his mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: he's being hunted by a vampire killer.

The Vladimir Tod series is currently 4 books deep – with the 5th (and final) book due for US release on September 21 this year. The series starts with Vlad in eighth grade, and concludes with him as a senior in twelfth grade.

Vlad is your typical teenage boy. He has a crush on a girl at school who is way out of his league. He’s maintaining a steady D-average. He gets bullied on a regular basis and called ‘goth boy’ behind his back and to his face. He is your typical teenage boy growing up in the small town of Bathory... except that he’s half vampire.
His mother was human and his father was a vampire. Vlad’s very existence shouldn’t be possible, but he lives to be a contradiction. He would ask his parents about his anomaly birth, but his parents are dead – murdered three years ago in a house fire. He lives off of expired donor blood that his aunt/guardian Nelly steals for him from her nursing job at the hospital. Vlad’s life is actually pretty normal – except for his ability to hover, hatred of garlic and his occasional mind-reading episode (which, after a biting accident when they were eight, extends only to his best friend, Henry).

But Vlad’s normal life is about to come crashing down. The eighth grade English teacher has gone missing, and Mr. Otis is one freaky replacement teacher who seems to know a lot about vampires. Meanwhile, someone is watching Vlad from the shadows and targeting his classmates to gather information about him...

Vlad pressed his lips together and flashed Mr Otis a firm look. “Can I have my journal back now, Mr Otis?”
“But this isn’t your journal, Vladimir, not really.” Mr Otis’s voice softened further, until it was almost a whisper. He caressed the pages of the journal lovingly before handing it to Vlad. “You should be careful what you believe, Mr Tod. The world is full of monsters with friendly faces.”

I love this series! Two books in and I’m already hooked!
‘Vladimir Tod’ does what lots of other vampire YA fiction has failed to do – appeal to young males. I think teenage boys have been largely forgotten in the wake of ‘Twilight’ and the vampire craze – most vamp fiction is written to appeal to teenage girls, especially when most books riff off of the Edward/Bella immortal love story.

‘Vladimir Tod’ is a breath of fresh air when paranormal romance has become the norm for vampire fiction. It’s not just that the series has a male narrator (a rare enough occurrence these days) it’s more the fact that these books are quite creepy and sinister, harking back to a more Gothic vampire exploration that will thrill and delight male readers. There’s violence in these books (nothing gratuitous or inappropriate) but enough to thrill, get your pulse pumping and squirming in your seat as you read the blood dripping off the page. Brilliant! These books are perfect for those younger readers who are intrigued by, but dissatisfied with the current crop of cookie-cutter vamp fiction.

That’s not to say all the violence and dark foreboding won’t appeal to female readers - on the contrary. Vladimir Tod is just the sort of teenage boy with a tough exterior/marshmallow interior, who is so sweetly awkward that girls will fawn over him. He’s unassuming, trying to find his place in the world and reckon his tragic vampire hero with the desire to be an ordinary teen. He will no doubt appeal to a wide female readership... at least, he appealed to me.

Vlad does have a crush on a girl at school, Meredith, but the romance is not a focus for the book. At this stage, with Vlad being in year 8, he doesn’t quite have the nerve to approach the girl of his dreams. The lack of romantic focus is a nice change of pace for the usually lust-heavy vampire genre (thankyou Bella and Edward!), but I imagine Vlad’s romantic status will change as he grows and matures across the books – I’m sure that by ‘Eleventh Grade Burns’ and ‘Twelfth Grade Kills’ he’ll be a bit braver when it comes to the fairer sex. I actually really look forward to reading Vlad’s awkward and slow progress with his hormones; even across two books I enjoyed noticing his changes and lessons learned. Spanning the series across Vlad’s high-school career will give readers a chance to get to know this unique young man, come to care for him and admire his changing world views.

In the second book, ‘Ninth Grade Slays’, Vlad goes on a trip to Siberia where he comes into contact with other vampires. In the second book the vampire mythology is broadened and becomes layered, as Vlad brushes up on his mind-reading abilities and has a chance to observe his own species. I love the fact that the second book is an expansion of the Vladimir Tod world – you definitely get the sense that Heather Brewer has a trajectory for her series, meaning that readers are slowly piecing together the puzzle that is Vladimir Tod. Much is revealed about Vlad and his ‘abilities’ and perhaps even his destiny. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series

I really admire Heather Brewer for writing a series that is darkly complicated, and achieves the tough task of appealing to the male readership of YA. Brewer has reclaimed vampires for the largely forgotten male audience, who have had little else but paranormal romance to meet their gothic vampiric cravings. I loved the first two books of ‘Vladimir Tod’, and will definitely be reading more.

5/5


'Ninth Grade Slays' book TRAILER

video

4 comments:

  1. Awesome review! I had heard of this series and I have been seriously considering getting it, you just made up my mind LOL =)

    xoxo

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  2. We're the web's premier fantasy casting site, we have the whole series up for casting, and Penguin Teen has elected to partner with us for one of the "Minion Horde" challenges (check out VladTod.com). We are Storycasting.com, that tribe of folks who always ask "who do you see in the movie?" ;)
    Twitter=@storycasting

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  3. I'm almost finished with the first book and I am very proud to say its my firt book at the age of 15 to read with out a parent or anybody telling me to. It takes a while Just started to read. I know hoiw just never took the time. I love the book.♥ Can't wait to finish the whole thing. And can't wait to find out what happens♥♥♥

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  4. Vladimir Tod is amazing I have read every book but i dont own book 4 or 5...BUT I WANT THEM...

    ReplyDelete