8th Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod)

8th Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod)

by Heather Brewer

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation minute. The book is 8th Grade Bites by Heather Brewer.

So the question here is what makes a monster? Is it what you are, or what you do? If you are born with fangs and a powerful thirst for blood, but you’re also a Midwestern kid who likes the cutest girl in school  and just wants to make it through 8th grade in one piece, are you destined to be a demon? That’s the question Heather Brewer asks in 8th Grade Bites, the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.  I’ve talked about young adult lit a lot lately, I’m a big fan personally, I usually pick books with strong female leads. I know what being a young girl was like, I remember — faintly — the strangeness of your body being on the warpath while your mind tried to keep up. But I don’t know anything much about teenage boys, except how obnoxious they are on the bus. They wear weird clothes. They talk in code. They have a world of masculine rituals I am in ignorance of.

In 8th Grade Bites, Heather Brewer introduces us to Vlad, a sort of human vampire hybrid. He’s not only trying to come to terms with his demonic nature, he’s also trying to figure out how to be a man without the help of his mysteriously deceased parents. Heather speaks with his voice and does a fine job of humanizing this only partly human character. He’s not so different from the oddball in the back of math class, of course he’s not so much for tanning or eating garlic, but his sorrows and joys are relatable to anyone who’s suffered through high school, with or without fangs that seem to pop out at the worst possible moment.

Ms Brewer sets the stage in this book — part one — for a newly created mythology, while borrowing a little from the classics. She tosses in some nice asides — vampires invented Play Station, for instance — and drops a lot of hints about the politics and trouble Vlad has to look forward to as he grows up. Again, that isn’t strictly a demonic state of affairs.

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