Doug Lee is always going to be as he is right now—short, doughy and 15. And if high school sucks for many kids, it especially does now for Doug: He is a vampire. But this vampire story doesn’t follow in the tracks of so many others of late. Readers will be howling with laughter through many scenes, but author Adam Rex balances the humor with plenty of seriousness and social commentary for readers to sink their teeth into, as well.

Early in the tale, Doug, a newly-created vampire, is trying to figure out who or what to feed upon. In a series of misadventures, he gets sucker-punched by a panda at the San Diego Zoo, is thwarted in his attempt to raid a bloodmobile by a nurse with an attitude, and witnesses two Kool-Aid Men fighting at a comic book convention. Later, his friend Jay tries out some traditional anti-vampire devices on Doug, just to learn more about his dilemma. A silver crucifix has no effect, but then Doug is Jewish; however, a Star of David doesn’t work either. Garlic? Doug loves garlic. In fact, he picked up his nickname “Meatball” because he smelled like Italian food. Jay tosses a pile of rice at Doug’s feet and asks Doug how many grains there are. Doug says, “I don’t know—I’m not autistic, I’m a vampire.”

Doug is attracted to Sejal, an exchange student from India, but Sejal is creeped out by him, though all of her friends agree that Doug has looked different lately—better looking, more confident, with a certain animal magnetism about him. It’s the language and sexual jokes among Sejal and her friends that make this a story for older readers, but those readers will eat this up, enjoying the high-stakes drama as Doug tries to take charge of his destiny.

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