Douglas Rees, a young adult librarian, once spent a year in
Massachusetts near a town much like New Sodom.
From the Hardcover edition.
Gr 8 Up-When Cody Elliot's parents receive his less-than-stellar report card, they decide it's time for a change. His options are Our Lady of Perpetual Homework and Vlad Dracul Magnet School, so the choice, for Cody, is obvious. After his interview with the headmaster at Vlad and meeting Charon, the school's yellow-eyed wolf, Cody knows there is something decidedly different about this place. He also learns why he gets admitted: most of the students are vampires and they will die if they get wet. State standards require a water-polo team, so the school takes in gadge (non-vampire) students for the team. Cody makes fast friends with two classmates by defending one of them against bullies, but eventually the differences in their vampire status cause friction. By the end, however, Cody finds a simple solution to meeting the state standards, and everyone lives happily ever after. Rees has created a very familiar plot in a less-than-familiar setting. The school is well described down to the marble foyer and the librarian who can morph into a wolf to control unruly students and wayward mice. Characters are more caricatures than well-drawn individuals, but that may work to the book's advantage. Some students will relish the familiar plot line and people, and the vampire angle is sure to attract a few readers.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Rees (Lightning Time) sinks his teeth into teenage satire with this witty and original vampire novel. The narrator, 15-year-old Cody Elliot, is rebelling against his family's move from California to New Sodom, Mass., mostly by failing at school. His parents transfer him to what they are told is a public magnet school, Vlad Dracul. With bold, almost hyperbolic humor, the author describes a lavish campus, impossibly erudite students (nearly all of whom are tall, pale and raven-haired) and ludicrously difficult assignments. As the title suggests, the school proves to be almost entirely populated by vampires (or "jenti," the term these vampires prefer), a premise Rees exploits with aplomb. Cody, along with the six other "gadje" (non-jenti) students, has been accepted only to fill out the state-required water polo team (jenti, of course, are deathly afraid of water), and no one cares about his schoolwork-he is to get automatic A's. Unlike his numbskull teammates and their sodden coach, however, Cody refuses to accept his free ride. Friendship with a bullied jenti and a tentative romantic interest in a jenti aristocrat prompt Cody to probe the boundaries of jenti/gadje relations, an effort which, in this author's hands, also translates to an exploration of classic teen tensions between wishing to belong and maintaining individuality. The resolution is marred by some oddities in narrative logic (suddenly vampires are related to selkies), but on balance the story is fluid and fun. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.