Heather Brewer

Eighth Grade Bites

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Eighth Grade Bites Summary

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Eighth Grade Bites is a middle-grade paranormal novel by Heather Brewer. Published in 2007 by Dutton, and winner of the 2010 Missouri Truman Readers Award, the book follows a young vampire who’s trying to hide his secret from the world but must face who he is when a vampire killer starts hunting him. It’s the first book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series. Heather Brewer is the pen name of Zac Brewer, who’s written multiple paranormal novels. Brewer is a New York Times bestselling author, and he also writes short stories.

The protagonist is a boy called Vladimir Tod, or “Vlad.” He’s thirteen, and he hates junior high. He’s picked on by bullies who think he’s strange, and he’s always getting hassled from the principal about one thing or another. His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. Both his parents died in a tragic house fire, and now he lives with his Aunt Nelly. They both think the house fire was suspicious and plan on getting answers.

In the meantime, every day is a struggle for Vlad as he learns the extent of his powers. He knows he’s got fangs, and he wants to drink blood, but he doesn’t know much else about who—or what—he is. Aunt Nelly isn’t much help where vampire mythology is concerned, but she knows his secret and helps him how she can. She’s a nurse at the local hospital and smuggles out blood bags for him. O positive blood is his favorite.

Vlad knows he’ll have to learn about his bloodline on his own. His only companion is Henry, his best friend, who knows he’s a vampire. Vlad had to tell someone because applying sunblock when it’s not hot out and only eating homemade food attracts attention. Henry thinks it’s cool that he has a vampire for a friend. They spend a lot of time joking around and mock-insulting each other; Henry finds it funny that Vlad, a special boy, gets so nervous around girls.

Vlad has a huge crush on a girl in class, but he can never find the courage to talk to her. Throughout the book, he struggles to make conversation, always thinking he’ll say or do something stupid. It’s easier to avoid her altogether—especially because he doesn’t want her knowing the truth about his strange heritage. We don’t learn much about her.

One day, in class, Vlad discovers that his English teacher is missing. A substitute teacher, Mr. Otis arrives; he’s particularly interested in Vlad. Vlad is worried that, somehow, Mr. Otis knows who he is, and he doesn’t know what to do about it. Things get even worse when the syllabus changes to studying vampire mythology and novels with gothic or vampire-related elements.

During class discussions, Vlad learns about vampire hunters. He starts to do his own research—which includes watching countless reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer—preparing for an imminent attack by Mr. Otis. In the meantime, he discovers more about his parents and their relationship. They loved each other deeply, and they raised Vlad the best they could under the circumstances.

He also finds out that there’s such a thing as a vampire council and covens all over the place—he isn’t the only vampire in the world. They’re not very happy with the upbringing he’s had. They killed his parents for having a forbidden vampire-human relationship, but they couldn’t get to Vlad. Now, they will stop at nothing to end him before he eventually goes on to have his own children.

When Mr. Otis assigns Vlad a special vampire research project, he tells Vlad that he knows he’s a vampire. Vlad is terrified because he doesn’t know where to turn; it only gets worse when Aunt Nelly invites his teacher for dinner one night. Mr. Otis confronts Vlad, revealing he isn’t the bad guy—he’s trying to protect him. He helps Vlad find his father’s secret journals and together they learn more about Vlad’s powers. In the meantime, Mr. Otis will try to keep Vlad safe from the coven that killed his parents.

Vlad discovers the story behind his mother and father’s romance. His father belonged to the vampire world, Elysia; they don’t like humans. When Vlad’s father fell in love with a human woman, they fled to the smallest town they could find. Aunt Nelly isn’t really an aunt—she’s just his mother’s best friend who could keep a secret. However, she loves Vlad like he’s her own son.

The final reveal comes when Mr. Otis shows Vlad that he’s a vampire, too; he’s the only one who can introduce Vlad to vampire society. Together, they foil the coven’s attempts to kill Vlad and feel safe—at least for now. The next book in the series takes place during Vlad’s first year of high school and introduces new vampire characters.