Friday 20 May 2011

Review: The Vampire Hunters by Pete Johnson

On my thirteenth birthday, my life changed for ever. That’s when I learned the shocking truth: I’m a half-vampire.

Think that sounds cool? Think again! I’ve been attacked by an evil vampire bat, had huge cravings for my best friend’s blood, and nearly died from eating a pizza (half-vampires aren’t great with garlic). Writing my secret blog is the only thing that’s kept me from going completely crazy.

As if life couldn’t get any more complicated, there have been some vicious attacks in the local woods. Vampire-mad Tallulah (definitely not my girlfriend) thinks a super-vampire is behind them – and she’s desperate to prove it, with a mysterious chain that’s supposed to glow red-hot when a vampire is close by.

And I have a horrible feeling that the chain’s going to turn red-hot any day now . . .

Having only the other day had a little moan about the relative (when compared to YA) lack of really fun titles for the 9+ age range I can now tell you about another one that is well worth a look at, albeit one that will be more suited to confident readers of this age, and those in their early teens. And if my To Be Read pile is anything to go by there will be more reviews for books for this age group coming soon. The Vampire Hunters by Pete Johnson is the sequel to The Vampire Blog and it is perfect for reluctant boy (and girl) readers. Like its predecessor it is written in the form of a blog, and as such there a few lengthy blocks of text as the entries are split by the times they were posted. When I was younger we called them diaries, and Adrian Mole reigned supreme. Kids these days don't keep diaries, but blogs are where it's at, and the format works really well in this case. The structure also allows for both rapid page turning to find out what happens next, as well as making it very easy to put down and come back to later - again, perfect for those who only pick up a book when pressured to do so by parent or teacher.

As with many of Pete's other books, the stand out element of his writing is the humour. The voice of main character Marcus is one that the majority of kids will be able to relate to, and the problems he faces as a half-vampire are just a slight twist on those experienced by most kids who feel as if they are different from the majority as they approach and enter their teens. he has girlfriend problems (his first date at the cinema is a disaster, but kids will be laughing out loud at the excuse he finally gives to his best friend's girlfriend); and his parents are very excited about the arrival of his half-vampirism, but all he feels is pressure to please. There is also a thinly disguised online safety element to the plot taht will be welcomed by parents and teachers, who worry that their children are not as safety conscious as they should be, and could be easily tempted into meeting someone they have been chatting to online who they know nothing about.

I have not read The Vampire Blog but this did not affect my enjoyment of this book. I seem to remember reading an interview that Pete did for another website some time ago where he said that The Vampire Blog was the first of a trilogy - I would be more than happy if the series was extended further than three books. My thanks go to the generous people at Random House for sending me a copy to review. Please watch this space for a very special Pete Johnson guest post, coming very soon to The Book Zone.

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