Title: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod; Ninth Grade Slays
Author: Heather Brewer
Summary (from heatherbrewer.com):
High school totally bites when you're half human, half vampire.
Freshman year sucks for Vlad Tod. Bullies still harass him. The photographer from the school newspaper is tailing him. And failing his studies could be deadly. A trip to Siberia gives "study abroad" a whole new meaning as Vlad connects with other vampires and advances his mind-control abilities, but will he return home with the skills to recognize a vampire slayer when he sees one? In this thrilling sequel to Eighth Grade Bites, Vlad must confront the secrets of the past and battle forces that once again threaten his life.
Last year, we had exams.
Now, they're not particularly hard exams. Most of us students finish them in twenty minutes. The problem? It's supposed to take two hours. So that leaves us with a lot of time on our hands.
I needed a book, see. So I went through the shelves at my local book store to find a thin, quick read. Normally, I would have opted for a fluffy Sarah Desson-ish book, but something caught my eye. It was a thin, titless cover on display beside a Twilight counter. Picking it up, flipping through it, I decided I could read this in an hour, flat. So I bought it. It's title? The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eigth Grade Bites. It was cute, not terrible, but not amazing, either. Okay.
Recently, I found the second on sale and picked it up.
And here we are.
I'm not sure how to write this review.
On one hand, Ninth Grade Slays is a fun, cute read. It doesn't require much heavy thinking, it doesn't take a very hard toll on your heart like a lot of vampire books these days, it's short and quick.
On the other hand, however, it sucked.
Vlad is one of the biggest babies I've ever read about. His parents are dead, see, which is sad and all, but then, four years later, whenever someone brings up the friggen subject, HERE COMES THE TEARS.
I mean, really. Where is the tough, jaded, cynical jerk I had come to expect of every male protagonist I read about? What happened to 'guys don't cry'? What happened to, "eh, it's nothing"? What HAPPENED? I mean, isn't that what makes the emotional breakdown with guys in books all the more heartbreaking? When they're cold, disconnected jerks the entire time? Just...ugh. Vlad is constantly going on and on about 'my parents are dead, my friend went on a date with a girl I never told him I liked, waahhhh'. It's like, dude, grow a pair.
The characterazation is thin as the paper it's printed on. The boys, all in ninth grade, can only think about video games, gory movies, pretty girls, and more video games. Even Vlad, who you'd think would have something else to think about, being on the Big Time Vampire Society's number one enemey list, has very little going on inside his ticker but gore nad Meredith and gore and beating Henry--his best friend--at video games and more gore and it's just so mind numbingly stupid I found myself staring at the page thinking, "I know guys. They have more going on then this."
On the plot, it really kind of confuses me. Not because it's complicated, but because I don't know what it is. The author spends more then half the book with Vlad shitting around and pining over Meredith, his supposed love interest, and thinking about how bullies are out to get him and basically recapping the entire first book--oh, and he spends almost an entire page bitching about how much agony he was in when he broke one rib the book before. One rib. Literally. Mr. Tod, I have read books where characters get limbs yanked off and continue onward without a second thought. You, Mister Todd?
(...) The last thing thing that Vlad needed was to fall from a tree. While Vlad healed at an abnormally fast rate, it still hurt whenever he got scraps or
bruises. The rib D'Ablo had broken last year had been no picnic, either. Six days of almost constant pain.
It had felt like an eternity. (and so on)
I mean, It's one rib.
The plot, as far as I can tell, is that he goes to Siberia with his Uncle Otis (more on him later)to be taught the vampire ways by an ancient vampire named Vikas (who demenstrates surprisingly little wisdom, might I add) for a week. Again, this is 200 pages in in a 278 page book. And then Ms. Brewer spends a total of twenty MORE pages filled with MORE vamp angst, cheesy dialogue and bland plot twists that anyone with half an eyeball could of seen coming.
For those who did read it, you all know what I mean. Hightlight the following space if your curious.... Joss is the VAMPIRE
SLAYER ZOMG WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED THAT A KID WHO CAME OUT OF NO WHERE WAS A
VAMPIRE SLAYER THAT ALSO CAME OUT OF NO WHERE WHO SAW IT COMING I SURE
Plus, I really think Heather Brewer takes her readers for idiots. Every few minutes she is basically recapping the previous page, or stating the obvious, or making it seem like people are smarter then they are just by MAKING other people tell them how smart they are. Example:
(...) "I'm trying to protect you."
"From what? I thought you trusted Vikas to teach me."
"I do. It's just..." Otis shook his head, his anger visably melting away. "Vikas is a traditional teacher. For the most part, his curriculum is brilliant. But some of his ideals are not necessarily the ideals I wish to instill in you."
Vlad chewed his botttom lip thoughtfully before speaking. "Shoudn't that be
up to me?"
Otis met Vlad's eyes, wide and full of awe. "Such wisdom from one so
Really? Are you kidding me? You consider that wise? I'm not even skipping any passages here, people. That's exactly what they said. Because Vlad acted like any teenager in the world would, trying to decide things for himself, he's suddenly the Dali Lama. I kept glancing back at the previous pages to see if Vladimir actually said something admirable, but no. Apparently, being a moody teenager with a mind of your own makes you wise, these days. Oy.
Another bit that irritated me: Vlad's uncle, Otis. Last year (in the previous book) Otis is considered an eeeevvviiilll subsitute teacher who's out to get Vlad. Now, the following year, in a span of one summer, Otis went from Evil Dude to My Awesome Vampire Uncle. And I have no idea why. Vlad is borderline obsessed with Otis, and they give no indication of how this came to be. It's so sappy, the way they act around each other, like Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson in Batman and Robin, but so much worse because it's not George Clooney.
Another bout of stupidness, from Vlad's pale Joss *if you have no read I do not suggest reading the following paragraph* WHY would Joss tell Vlad he's a vamp slayer when he thinks Vlad's human? WHY, if he's such an amazing slayer, as both he and the author reminds, does he need one of his high school buddies to assist him in finding a vampire? Why would anybody with a brain wake up and think, "gee, I wonder where that darn vampire is. Maybe I'll just ask my completely unrelated human pal to come and help me! Hopefully he won't get killed..."
I mean, come on. Who does that?
And, if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to the crying issue.
Now, there is one scene, where Vlad goes to the cemetary to visit his parents grave. This moment,where he breaks down sobbing over the gravestones, would have been very touching. Had he not been crying the rest of the book about something or another. See, there's something endearing about a big touch guy with a jaded facade and a fixated scowl on his pretty little mug crying for his mommy. But it's not endearing, however, when they've been crying the whole time. Over the same thing. Again and again. After a point, the water works are just ridiculous. There is, however, some lovely decription at the cemetary, which eased the pain a bit:
Halfway up the main path, Vlad paused to look around. The cemetary was overgrown with weeds and dead ivy, and moss hung from the tree trunks. To his left stood a large block shaped tombstone. Atop it stood a stone women. In her hand was a wreath of some sort. In the moonlight, she seemed alive and, with a shiver, Vlad waited for her to move.
To his immense relief, she didn't.
This is probably the best paragraph in the book. Which is sad.
The stupidness in Ninth Grade Slays is overwhelming, filled with cheesy plot devices, LOTS of bitch boy/vampire crying (EVERY OTHER PARAGRAPH), and just plain annoying characters. I would not suggest it, unless your ten years old, have low expectations, have never read a book before, or all three. The only thing I can say about it is that it's entertaining if your on a long plane ride. Or something.
Rating: 3--horrible, but not without some merit.
On an unrelated note, here's a trailer for the new Hilary Duff vehicle, Greta. It actually looks decent: