As an adult reader, I half-heartedly read this teenage vampire novel because my son showed an interest. I found myself surprisingly engaged by the author's writing style and, while I am a much more mature reader, it was enjoyable to read a contemporary story I would not otherwise have chosen for myself. It kept my interest. The author has followed up her initial novel with a 9th grade sequel that my son plans to read in his spare time. It's not Austen, but, then, what is!
Vladimir Tod is a vampire. After his parents died in a mysterious fire in their home, all Vlad has left is his best friend Henry and his "Aunt" Nelly, who has been raising him since the accident. His thirst for blood is strong, and he's been trained since he was a baby to act like the humans and not bite people. The only way Vlad quenches his hunger is by Aunt Nelly bringing home bags of blood from the hospital where she works. When Vlad's English teacher disappears, and is replaced by a creepy substitute with an obsession for monsters, Vlad becomes suspicious that he is being hunted and possibly by the same people that murdered his parents.
I always enjoy reading YA vampire books. It's fun to read the vampire from a teen perspective, but this was definitely geared toward a younger audience. I would say 5th grade and up could read this. It's along the lines of the first book in the Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan. I liked it, but I didn't love it. Vlad is a smart kid, and has a very understanding best friend in Henry. He also keeps Vlad's secret of being a vampire to himself, which shows Vlad just how lucky he is to have Henry in his life. They even joke about it on Halloween when they get dressed up in their costumes. Vlad's past is interesting, and I love the substitute teacher that takes over Vlad's class. I thought this was a really cute kind of spooky book, and think it's the start of a great vampire series for younger readers.