From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-When Cody Elliot's parents receive his less-than-stellar report card, they decide it's time for a change. His options are Our Lady of Perpetual Homework and Vlad Dracul Magnet School, so the choice, for Cody, is obvious. After his interview with the headmaster at Vlad and meeting Charon, the school's yellow-eyed wolf, Cody knows there is something decidedly different about this place. He also learns why he gets admitted: most of the students are vampires and they will die if they get wet. State standards require a water-polo team, so the school takes in gadge (non-vampire) students for the team. Cody makes fast friends with two classmates by defending one of them against bullies, but eventually the differences in their vampire status cause friction. By the end, however, Cody finds a simple solution to meeting the state standards, and everyone lives happily ever after. Rees has created a very familiar plot in a less-than-familiar setting. The school is well described down to the marble foyer and the librarian who can morph into a wolf to control unruly students and wayward mice. Characters are more caricatures than well-drawn individuals, but that may work to the book's advantage. Some students will relish the familiar plot line and people, and the vampire angle is sure to attract a few readers.
Gr. 6-9. There's barely a false note in this rollicking tale of horror, humor, and light romance that will appeal to both girls and boys. Transplanted from California to an archetypal New England town, ninth-grader Cody Elliot flunks out of the local public school; but he's accepted at Vlad Dracul Magnet School, where most of the students are tall, pale, and prone to Edwardian mannerisms. The school timber wolf accompanies Cody to his first day of classes, and it doesn't take the new kid long to figure out that the school is populated by--and organized to continue the traditional social life of--vampires. Rees keeps things moving and delightfully off-balance as Cody rescues a classmate from bullies, falls in love with a vampire princess, and designs a way to save the school. The parody of New England society adds yet another level of hilarity, but at the center are Cody and his toothsome friends, inspired and inspirational teens discovering the world as it is and making it renew for themselves.
From Publisher's Weekly
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.
From Children's Literature
Cody Elliot is a bright but unmotivated youth who misses his former home and friends in California. Due to poor grades in his new Massachusetts school, his father forces him to attend Vlad Dracul, a private high school unlike any that Cody has imagined. With their tall, lean forms, jet black hair, and fair skin, most of the students look strikingly similar. They move quietly through the halls, generally ignoring him and his obviously different ways. He soon learns that he is attending a school for vampires, or jenti, as they prefer to be called. He is granted admission only due to his ability to enter water, a fear held by vampires, to compete on the school's water polo team. Without him and his fellow non-jenti students, the school would not meet accreditation standards and would thus be shut down. As a result, Cody does not have to do any homework or even attend class, a seeming paradise for a kid like him. Cody refuses to abide by this system, however, wanting to prove himself by completing the impossibly advanced homework assignments and earning at least his own self-respect. When he willingly donates his blood to a suffering jenti friend, he is called a hero, undercutting the school's attempts to maintain separation between jenti and non-jenti students. With the help of Justin and Ileana, two jentis who befriend him, he learns and helps teach others acceptance and trust. Cody's wry tone and perceptive observations lend incredible humor to the tale. Rees is keenly aware of the hypocrisy that inhabits teenage life. Although far-fetched, the idea of vampires works especially well as an alternate setting for teen (and human) woes that plague us all. With well-crafted details that answersuch questions as to why the school exists, where the vampires get their blood, etc., Rees creates a story that is believable despite the unusual premise. Fun and imaginative.
Cody is not succeeding in school. In fact, he is even flunking homework. He has two choices for a new school-Our Lady of Perpetual Homework or Vlad Dracul Magnet School. He chooses the latter, but soon notices that things are different. The students are vampires. The school must retain a water polo team so that they are not shut down. Vampires cannot swim. Cody and a few other jentis (this title's version of muggles) are allowed to attend this school, receiving automatic As and advancing to college as long as they play on the team. At first the silliness-the principal tells him he should go back to California-and lack of reality seem to create a story with no values. Soon, however, Cody decides he would rather earn his grades. He also gives his own blood to save a friend. In some ways, this novel is like Harry Potter. Its magical world of jentis (muggles) and vampires (wizards) exists with the focus on school and friendships with a little sport or water polo (quidditch) added. Fans of vampire fiction will not find the traditional darkness, blood and gore, and transformations. Although the characters are in high school, they seem a little younger, especially because Cody and his friends play a game involving dolls. This story will surely be appreciated by reluctant male readers who enjoy the writing of J. K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket. Readers will find humor and reality along with the fantasy. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12).
Angry over his family's move from California to New Sodom, Massachusetts, Cody acts out by flunking all his courses; even homeroom. His parents search out an alternative school, and offer him a choice between Our Lady of Perpetual Homework and Vlad Dracul Magnet School, which has a gorgeous campus and a great reputation, though it's a little unusual. For instance, the principal has a pet wolf, and most of the students look similar; tall and pale, with dark eyes and black hair, and Roumanian names. Cody is admitted to Vlad Dracul immediately, on condition that he joins the water polo team. The academic workload is impossibly hard, but Cody is reassured that he doesn't need to do anything at all other than be willing to get in the pool. It turns out, of course, that the other students are vampires, who abhor water; Cody has been admitted only because Massachusetts requires schools to offer water sports. When he comes to the aid of a fellow student who is being bullied, Cody makes some friends, including a lovely vampire princess, but also some enemies, and he starts to learn more about vampire culture. He rebels at school by actually trying to win water polo matches and demanding to be graded like the other students. His forthrightness also ends up bringing about changes in the relations between vampires and non-vampires, with surprising and happy results. Snappy dialogue and the age-old appeal of the vampire make this comedy a winner. Action, romance, literature and humor all play a role, and the result is an entertaining romp that middle school and junior high students will enjoy. KLIATT Codes: J; Recommended for junior high school students.
From Kirkus Reviews
Cody Elliotís plan to get his parents to return to California (Objective #1: fail all subjects in his new Massachusetts public high school) backfires when his not-so-doting dad transfers him to Vlad Dracula Magnet School. His new school is populated by persons of Romanian descent known among themselves as the Jenti--and guess who their honored ancestor was. Codyís fresh mouth keeps him in trouble in his new school, while his two Jenti friends, Justin and Ileana, labor to incorporate him into the school culture. Rees presents amusing twists on the fantasy tropes about vampires, with funny and convincing details about their daily lives and living preferences. Although predictable, the ending will not bother teen readers one bit. The humor, engaging characters and need to find out what Cody is up to will carry them through a fast, satisfying read. Could Vlad Dracula still rule? Readers will love to find out.
Unhappy about moving from California to New Sodom, Massachusetts, Cody is failing every subject at Cotton Mather High. His father decides he needs more academic rigor, but Vlad Dracul Magnet School isn't quite what either of them expects. Escorted through the palatial buildings by a huge and unnervingly cognizant timber wolf, Cody quickly learns that he need only join the school's water polo team to earn As in all subjects and, eventually, a free ride to a top college. After a surreal day, Cody discovers why: most of the students are vampires, and because water sports are part of the state curriculum and vampires, or jenti, can't go in the water (they dissolve), the school needs a few nonvampires, or gadje, to keep the vampire school afloat. There's nothing eerie or mysterious about these vampires: the dangers Cody faces are the same as that for any kid--fitting in at a new school, getting beat up by bullies, taking a chance on friendship and romance. The biggest risk Cody takes is deciding to give up the fre As and earn his own way, and, despite initial resistance from all parties, matters are resolved rather easily. In offering his friendship to two jenti students, Cody breaks through the distrust on both sides, changing the centuries-old status quo of separation between jenti and gadje and even getting the girl--a vampire princess, no less. Any concerns about the vampires' primary food source (sharing a pint with a friend has new meaning here) remain unexplored; they just don't fit into this easygoing story about getting along. A light, engaging parable with a reader-pleasing happy ending.
From The Boston Herald, 10/19/2003
Vampire High by Douglas Rees is imaginative, offbeat and witty. When Cody moves from California to New Sodom, Mass., he misses home so much he starts failing classes. Cody's father decides to put him in Vlad Dracal because he's heard it's a school where everyone gets good grades. Cody soon learns Vlad Dracal is full of vampires, or "jenti," as they like to call themselves. Since the jenti can't stand water, as a member of the water polo team Cody is ensured good grades even if he does nothing. Cody starts to make friends and realizes that he wants to fit in at the school, vampires or not. But it's not quite that easy, and Cody soon realizes not all the jenti want to be his friend. This humorous, satirical look at high school has a bit of everything, even a love story.