Monday, August 15, 2011

BOOKS: Vampire High by Doug Rees

There are two sub-genres of fantasy that are always a tight-rope act as far as I'm concerned: magic and vampires. The problem is, it's always too easy to 'invent' new rules on the spot to get your hero/heroine out of whatever inescapable spot you've written them into. Rules are important and too few authors don't spend the effort to explain their rules early on and then keep to them during the rest of the story.

In the never-ending quest to find YA stories for Angela, I gave Doug Rees' Vampire High a try and it turns out I enjoyed it immensely. I hope Angela will whenever she gets around to giving it a try.

Cody Elliott is a screw-up. He gets F's for failure to be interested. Not because he's at the wrong end of the grading curve. He flaunts his F's to his well-meaning parents once too often and they resolve the situation by getting him out of his cushy school and into THAT OTHER SCHOOL. Vlad Dracul Magnet School, nicknamed Our Lady Of Perpetual Homework.

You'd think a reputation for housing actual vampires might be the cause of contemptuous nicknames around town, but no, it's the strict academic standards and unfailing work ethic demanded. So, why does this school accept Cody, when, by all measurements known to school administrator kind, he's the last guy the school should ever want? And in mid-year?

Water polo. The school's short a player and Cody fits the bill. He gets in. And, in a perverse sort of way, he actually starts to like it there. Even the water polo thing, despite a bunch of teammates that make calling HIM a layabout, a laugh.

There's a girl of course. What YA novel doesn't have a girl and a guy? And there are the vampiric types all about. They don't actually carouse in the daylight, but the rules about what and what can't be done are pretty well laid out. Most of them don't like Cody. He's not seen as a fit consort for the girl, who disagrees naturally.

When it's all done, in much fewer than 200 pages I might add, Cody has himself a honest to goodness interest in school, some success in the water, and has brought the non-vamps and the vampires together like never before.

All by following the rules.

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