Book: Vampire High: Sophomore Year
Author: Douglas Rees
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4 Stars
In Vampire High: Sophomore Year, Rees has probed further into the hearts and minds of the jenti and this sequel is definitely richer for it. Rees has stepped up the game and told a compelling story that deepens the plight of the jenti. The backstory of Crossfield, the largely abandoned town near New Sodom and its black history are the focal point of Rees’ sequel. Terrible things have happened in Crossfield’s past…to the jenti. And they will never forget it. Whereas in Rees’ debut, you got more tepid high school fare and shenanigans, his sequel is quite different…complete and full of substance.
When we last left Cody he was being marked by Dracula and he and Leanna finally had a meeting of the minds (wink wink). He’d become a hero at school and managed to earn the respect of the faculty and his peers. All in all Rees gave us a happy ending to the yearlong conflict that had plagued gadje and jenti alike. With the polo team in full swing, things were finally going swimmingly at Vlad Dracul Magnet School and the local vamp population. All of this changes when Cody’s troubled cousin Turk arrives.
After finally overcoming the prejudices the jenti had about humans, Cody is once again thrown into the deep end, as his cousin inflames his friends and colleagues at school with her irreverent disregard for the tradition and history of the jenti. By openly pursuing an arts center in one of the abandoned factories in Crossfield, Turk engages all forms of opposition especially resurrecting an ancient rift between the Burgundians and Mercians. But some of the jenti who desire long-term change jump aboard and Cody realizes that his cousin is not so cracked up as he’d assumed.
The overall point that Rees is trying to make is that through art and music, the differences between people can find common ground. The art center could be a place where gadje and jenti can bridge the chasm of prejudice. Turk serves as a catalyst for Cody, a more fully realized self that can accomplish great things through perseverance and teamwork. One of the things that Rees makes so appealing in his sequel is that he presents real issues in a paranormal setting that go beyond the shallow contrivances that are so common in this genre. I really found Vampire High: Sophomore Year charming, engaging and a satisfying read. This book is great for middle grade readers, difficult readers and those beyond.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review