Where a writer/teacher mom and her middle-school aged son talk about books, good writing, and occasionally pudding.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Review of THE CHRONICLES OF VLADIMIR TOD: EIGHTH GRADE BITES, by Heather Brewer
Brewer, Heather. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites. New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Print.
Mom: Right off the bat, I’m going to tell readers you’ve read three of this series. I liked this first one, & I do plan on reading more. What captured your interest with them?
Dude: That Vlad’s life pretty much sucked. He had try to act normal all the time. And bad stuff is always happening to him.
Mom: As a vampire, the main character has some special abilities. I liked that the writer still made him, personality-wise, like a teenage boy. Describe him a little.
Dude: Yeah, it’s cool that he can levitate and read minds. Well, physically he was pretty pale and rather skinny. Personality-wise he‘s a little sarcastic, but he doesn‘t let it go too far. He’s quiet but friendly to people he knows well.
Mom: For side characters, his best friend, Henry, is clear-- the guy all the girls drool over. Then there’s his substitute teacher, Otis Otis. I like the little details the writer gives for him, like the top hat. The only side character I can’t visualize is his aunt, Nelly. I’d say she’s thoughtful because of what she says and what she does for Vlad, but I can’t picture what she looks like. Do you know what I mean?
Dude: Yes, I definitely know what you mean because the author gives very little adjectives concerning Vlad’s aunt Nelly.
Mom: The writer wove in references to the original DRACULA all through the book, but I really noticed it with the names of towns, like Stokerton. Kind of clever. What I liked even more, though, was the concept of Elysia, the vampire community that exists alongside the real world. Like the “corporate headquarters” Vlad visits at the end of the book. If vampires invented Play station, who invented Wii?
Dude: Well, that’s rather obvious. It was the werewolves, of course.
Mom: Without giving any spoilers, I’ll say that I enjoyed the plot, how stuff that seemed to be unrelated fit together in the end. What do you think?
Dude: I think that you’re right; in the end almost everything fit together, but the things that didn’t fit together yet will get solved in the books to come.
Mom: Though it is a vampire story, it’s also about a teenage boy. What did you think about the “normal” part of the plot?
Dude: That the “normal” part was greatly affected by the non-normal part of the plot. For example, he gets picked on by these two bullies, Bill & Tom, so he gets back at them by reading Tom’s mind and using his secrets. Maybe it’s not a nice thing to do, but I might do it, too, if I were Vlad.
Mom: So, here’s another way of thinking about theme. Look at what the main character learns. What did Vlad learn about himself in the book? Does it relate to real people?
Dude: Vlad learned that not all vampires are blood sucking freaks, but most of them are. In terms of real life, some people are nice and others aren’t. You can’t tell by looking at them; you have to figure it out for yourself.