Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Review: Ninth Grade Slays, by Heather Brewer

Ninth Grade Slays
(The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Book 2)
Heather Brewer
Trade Paperback, 278 pages
Speak, January 22, 2009
Humor, Paranormal Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Synopsis: Freshman year stinks 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.


The humor continues in this second installment of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. (However, so does the drama!) And he's such a likable kid, too! It's just that he happens to be a vampire. But he doesn't bite people, or kill them for their blood. (Yeah, I don't like it, either, when a vamp drinks blood....but at least Vlad is not biting people. And he can't help being what he is; he was born that way.)

I'm really loving this series! The characters are just SO wonderful! Vlad is, in every other respect, just like any other teen boy entering high school. He has a longtime crush on Meredith, a pretty girl at school, and he has homework to do and tests to take. Of course, he's into violent, gory video games, again, just like most boys his age. What makes him extra special, though, is his sensitive heart. This might sound cheesy to some, but it's precisely what I find so endearing about Vlad. He's still grieving the deaths of his parents three years previously. His dad, whom he greatly admired, was a vampire, and his mom, a human. From details revealed by the author, it's very evident that his parents loved each other very much. Since such unions are forbidden by the vampire society in this series, however, Vlad's dad took a HUGE risk in marrying Vlad's mom.

Vlad has a great best friend, Henry, who is very popular at school, in contrast to Vlad, who is pretty much an outcast. However, the two have a wonderful friendship, and Henry has kept Vlad's secret for as long as they've been friends.

As in most YA novels (the Harry Potter series is a clear example of this), the hero gets bullied, and that's also the case here. Two of Vlad's classmates, Bill and Tom, love to beat him up, disdainfully calling him "Goth Boy". As a vampire, I'm sure Vlad could have easily hurt them even more than they did him, but, of course, he's ethically bound not to hurt humans, or give his secret away. This is another factor that made me like Vlad even more!

In this second novel, a new danger looms for our hero -- there's a vampire slayer on the hunt for him. The reader doesn't get to know just who this person is until almost the end of the novel, but I had a feeling I knew that person's identity, and I was proven right. There was a pretty big clue at one point in the story, and I was able to nail it! This did not make me enjoy the whole story any less, though. 

This book also adds some intrigue to the mix. Is Vlad the "Pravus", a vampire prophesied to rule vampire society worldwide, making slaves out of all humans? This is something that will be developed further as the series moves along, but indications are that such a terrible destiny cannot possibly be in store for Vlad.

Like the first book, this reads like a Middle Grade, although I think there will be a natural progression towards a more YA-type style, as Vlad moves on to higher grades in high school. The style used in these two first books did not dampen my enjoyment of them at all, however. They're just SO much fun! Of course, there's also drama involved, but everything works out in the end. That's why I prefer to read paranormal fiction and urban fantasy, especially at this time of year. No horror novels or movies for me, thank you very much! Just give me some supernatural shenanigans, and I know I'll enjoy the Halloween season! 

Some interesting new characters are introduced in this book, such as Uncle Otis's vampire friend, Vikas, who lives in Siberia. (It turened that Vlad's eccentric teacher, Mr. Otis Otis, in the first book, was really his uncle.) Wait, say what? Yes, that's right -- Siberia, located in Russia. Vlad and his uncle fly there, so that Vikas can coach Vlad on the finer points of telepathy and mind control. Mind control? Yes, indeed, and this is one aspect of the novel that gave me pause, because the vamps in it use this mind control on humans. For what it's worth, though, Otis was not at all happy about Vlad doing this -- especially not with his friends and relatives. 

Another interesting new character is Joss, who is Henry's cousin, and is visiting Vlad's hometown of Bathory for the summer. He and Vlad become good friends, as well, although Joss is not in on Vlad's secret.

Just as in the first novel, the action heats up in the last third of the story, and Vlad has to deal with a very unexpected development. His aunt and uncle become involved, as does Vikas, and things look pretty grim for a while. But again, "all's well that ends well", and Brewer sets things up for the third novel, which I hope to start reading very soon!

This is a highly addictive series! The first book, Eighth Grade Bites, has close to 33,000 ratings, and 2,710 reviews, on Goodreads! This second book doesn't have quite that many ratings and reviews, but is still pretty popular. And so are the rest of the books! I'm adding this series to my collection of favorite vampire (non-Dracula clones, of course) series!

I would highly recommend this book, as well as the others in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, to all paranormal fiction and urban fantasy fans, especially fans of Young Adult Fiction. These books are very entertaining, fun, and full of great characters whom one grows to love and root for. They're very real, as well. I felt totally drawn into Vlad's world, as well as his uncanny, crazy adventures. I will be sorry to come to the last book in the series....But perhaps Brewer will decide to do a spinoff series about these characters at some time in the future. Keeping my fingers crossed! Way to go, Brewer!! 


Heather Brewer is the pseudonym of Zac Brewer. Zac is the NYT bestselling author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, as well as The Slayer Chronicles series, Soulbound, The Cemetery Boys, "The Blood Between Us", and more short stories than he can recall.


  1. Great review Maria. It is interesting just how stories where the vampire is the sympathetic character have become. There are theories out there as to the place that vampires inhabit in people’s psyches and that they represent something primal and buried deep down. Maybe these likable vampires are ways in which people try to gain mastery over something dark in themselves. Either way I can see how stories like this would be appealing as an alternative to traditional horror.

    Have a happy Halloween Maria!

    1. Hi, Brian!

      Thanks so much for your kind words!! <3 <3

      Yeah, this is indeed an interesting phenomenon! If this fascinating and twisty development hadn't come about, I seriously doubt that I'd be reading vampire novels! Lol. In fact, I own a nonfiction book titled "The Vampire Defanged", which traces the history of the "evolution" of the fictional vampire from creature of terror and gore, to romantic hero. I sometimes wonder just what the appeal of this new type of vampire is. It must be the allure of the mysterious, tortured hero. Lol. But, of course, in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, the hero is not of this type at all. He's pretty much just like any other normal, human, kid. But yes, these stories are indeed VERY appealing! And they have overwhelmingly taken the place of the traditional vampire stories. SO happy about that!

      I actually had a pretty BLAH Halloween....hope yours was much better!! Thanks for the interesting comment!! <3 :)


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