Review: ‘Fake Blood’
The start of a new school year is always promising. Shiny new school supplies. New teachers. And for many, the promise of something different. For AJ it starts out the same, but soon enough his greatest wish will come true.
By Whitney Gardner.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 2018. ISBN 9781481495561
HC, $21.99. 336pp.
Grades 6 and up
The premise of this book is rather simple. Everyone is changing around AJ, but he feels like he’s still the same. AJ’s crush on Nia seems to be going nowhere. So to get her to notice him, he pretends that he’s a vampire (because she’s very into vampires). AJ is caught off guard to learn that Nia is a vampire slayer in practice. But while trying to escape with his life, AJ doesn’t notice the real danger lurking close by and putting his other friends in jeopardy.
This witty and fun graphic novel is a perfect fit for middle school readers. The story has many layers of relationships: AJ and his sister. AJ and his friends Ivy and Hunter. And of course the budding relationship of AJ and Nia. Each of these relationships rings true. Readers will easily find ways to relate to the diverse cast of characters, and minus the vampire chaos, the middle school dynamic seems real too.
Mostly a comical title, Fake Blood will keep you laughing and wanting to read again and again, even though at over 300 pages, it’s a lengthy graphic novel. The simplistic artwork supports and enhances the humor. And despite the dreary Portland setting, the vivid coloring wraps a thrilling, fun, and exciting title into a perfect little present. Readers will be giggling long after the last page is read.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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