My daughter has been begging me to read Heather Brewer's Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series for what feels like forever. I finally got around to it today, not wanting to take the iPad anywhere near where the children were playing with water, and began with Eighth Grade Bites. Fair warning that my review may have been altered by the expectations of my daughter's obsession.As the first book in the series, Eighth Grade Bites has to do a lot of world-building. We learn that Vladimir is an orphaned half-vampire who lives with his Aunt Nelly, who was really a close friend of his parents. We learn that his best friend is Henry, a popular boy in school who inexplicably is friends with the bullied Vlad. We learn that Vlad pines after Meredith, a girl he considers out of his league. And we learn that some of the people in town are being killed, apparently by a vampire, and the new substitute teacher, Mr. Otis, is acting very suspicious.Vlad is mostly able to get around in the real world, with a few modifications, which is how he's able to go to school and have a human best friend. In other words, Eighth Grade Bites reads a lot like what you'd imagine if you took Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Twilight, put them in a blender, and took out most of the girls (vampires without Bella Swan is kind of welcome, actually). My daughter assures me that the series gets WAY better, but I couldn't help but be disappointed. Maybe it's because she had built the series up SO much that I had huge expectations. Maybe it's because I wanted so badly to love it, but merely liked it. Maybe it really did feel just a bit too derivative. But the whole time, I kept feeling like I had read this one before. Vlad had a very Harry Potter feel to him, and Mr. Otis had such a similar "is he bad or isn't he?" vibe to Severus Snape that I pictured him as Alan Rickman with a top hat. It's a decent book (and totally safe for readers on the younger end of young adult readers as long as they can deal with a little blood), but it wasn't the great and amazing book I'd been hoping for.