VAMPIRE HIGH

Rees, Author, Douglas Rees, Author . Delacorte $15.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-385-73117-1

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.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Children's
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