|Diary of a Wimpy Vampire by Tim Collins|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Margaret Young|
|Summary: Being 15 can be a difficult age, spots, awkwardness, trying to get your first date, but at least most teens have the consolation that they will outgrow it. Nigel doesn't have even this small comfort. He has been stuck in this stage for 85 years, and as a vampire, he will remain 15 years old forever. His misadventures are comical, but ones that most teens and preteens will relate to.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: May 2010|
|Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books Ltd|
Nigel is a fairly typical teenager in many ways. He suffers from spots, he is awkward and uncomfortable around girls, he is moody, irritable and constantly feeling bitter and resentful of his parents. Worst of all, he just doesn't know where he fits in. But unlike most 15 year olds, this isn't just passing a stage. Nigel has the body, emotions and typical trials and tribulations of the average teenager, but he has been stuck in this stage of development for 85 years. As he nears his 100th birthday, he begins to wonder if he will ever fit in, ever find a date, and ever develop into a proper vampire. You see not only does he have all the difficulties of most teens, he also has to cope with the fact that despite being a vampire for nearly 85 years, he has developed none of the usual vampire strengths and talents. His little sister has all the speed, grace and power of a grown vampire, but he is still as helpless as an infant in the vampire world. His parents have to hunt for him, bullies torture him at school, and the worst torture of all is that he has finally fallen in love - but has no idea what to do about it.
If you are looking for Twilight, this is most certainly not it. Nigel is no Edward Cullen. He is closer to Gregg Hefley, but a much sadder, more lonely version of the Wimpy Kid. In some ways he is like the Goths, but he doesn't even fit in with them. He is moany and whingey, but you can't really blame Nigel; it seems that he is always dealt the low hand, no matter what he tries. His life is a series of comic mistakes and misunderstandings - but circumstances are about to change. When those that he cares about are in danger - will Nigel finally mature and become something more than an eternal teenager? Will he at last find himself, and a way to fit in?
This is the darkest of the diary type books we have read, and perhaps suited to slightly older children. It does mention topics like self harm and anorexia, but in a very light hearted manner. Still, it starts out quite depressing and both my son and myself found this a difficult book to get into. It is worth persevering though as the book does get much better. There is plenty of humour in this book, but again slightly more mature than with most of these types of books. Much of the humour is based on the difficulties of wanting to be popular, or at least to be liked and have friends and the bumbling attempts at trying to impress a girl that many boys will be all to familiar with. In addition there are themes of sibling rivalry, bullying, and of course conflicts with his parents which will be familiar to most readers.
The book is presented in the what has become an extremely popular format, as a diary, complete with doodle style illustrations. While these illustrations are a simple and comic book like, they do add a great deal to the book. Like many boys, my son finds it much easier to get into a book with some illustrations. I think it is easier for him to picture and relate to the characters. At one time, boys had comic books to fill this need for visual cues with their reading, but comics are no longer in fashion. This type of book basically fills the same function, it provides light easy reading for boys (although I believe this one will appeal to girls as well) with plenty of illustrations to keep them interested.
My son did enjoy this book once he got past the first few pages. He enjoyed the digs at vampire myths, and especially Nigel's effect on animals. There is an especially funny scene on a school trip to the zoo, and another involving squirrels. He found the Goth children very entertaining as well, especially as they seemed to desperately want something frightening to happen, but were not quite so thrilled when they did get a fright. I think it took him awhile to warm to the main character, but once he did, he enjoyed the book far more. Still I feel that he would have gotten a little bit more from this book if he were slightly older. This book is suitable for his age (8 years old), but I feel that a slightly older child would relate more to the main character.
As an adult, I read this strictly for review purposes. It isn't the type of book that adults would read on their own. But I did like the book. I liked the way it shows children that the woes of adolescence are passing, things do get better. I like the fact this gives children a character they can relate to, who goes through the same troubles that they do, and that while embarrassing things do happen, you get over them. I think the best part of the book though, is that kindness wins out at the end. Nigel does find his true self, but only when he isn't thinking of himself, and he finally shows true maturity and forgiveness rather than a childish need for revenge. In short, this is a good story, which children will relate to, but with a moral adults will appreciate as well.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Diary of a Wimpy Vampire by Tim Collins at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Diary of a Wimpy Vampire by Tim Collins at Amazon.com.
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