June 05, 2006

A SUMMER READ: The Undead Have Class!

It's just not every day that you run across a truly funny vampire book. I thought I wouldn't like Vampire High, by Douglas Rees, but it has an awful lot going for it. For one thing, it's not trying to pretend it's a Certain High School on a Hellmouth. It's in New Sodom, Massachusetts and it's remarkably low on musicals, nights of horror and drained bodies. It's kind of normal. Kind of. There are three high schools - a Catholic school called Our Lady of Perpetual Homework, Cotton Mather High, and ...Vlad Dracul Magnet School.
The locals don't talk about that one, much.
Cody Elliot is determined to flunk every class at Cotton Mather in an attempt to force his father to let him go home. His mother is unhappy, and he hates Massachusetts. He's longing for California something awful. His father, a lawyer finally getting a chance to work his way into partnership at an excellent law firm, is adamant -- they're not going back. Instead, Cody's changing schools.

Vlad Dracul is...weird. Everyone is tall. Mr. Horvath, the principal, must be at least seven feet. And he's got a pet wolf, which seems like it can almost talk. The school is posh - there's marble and gold everywhere. There are kids with chauffeurs and everyone looks rich -- and smart. So many of Cody's classmates sport sunglasses that you'd think their parents had stock in Ray Ban. There's no pushing in the halls, no note passing, no chewing gum -- no, those aren't the rules, the kids just don't do that. Cody wonders what's up with everyone, but he takes it all in stride.
And then one of the pales kids shows Cody his fangs.

Once Cody gets over the obvious, he tries to figure it out -- how does he fit in at Vlad Dracul? Why are there humans around at all? He's making straight A's by doing absolutely nothing? He's got a free ride? Cody's dad is a lawyer... so Cody knows nothing is really for free. He figures there's a catch. So, what is it?
It'll surprise you. And what Cody chooses to do about it will surprise you even more.

Another quick, fun satire that manages to be slyly funny while looking past the surface of human nature and ambition, and what motivates us. It's all about high school -- really.

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