Like many I’ve been wowed by the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod–a MG/YA male-centered contemporary paranormal series. Heather Brewer held my eldest captivated by a non-dystopian world that had hints of romance? I couldn’t resist.
While it’s been a few years since I read those books, I couldn’t help dipping into the Slayer Chronicles–when I happily won the final episode THIRD STRIKE from gracious writer/superblogger Suzanne Johnson.
As with all series books, I had to go back to the beginning–and so this post will reflect the first two books in the series as well.
FIRST KILL tells us how young Joss McMillan came upon the track of the Slayer Society. For those who haven’t read CoVT, Joss and Vlad have a mottled history.
Joss is cousin to Henry McMillan, Vlad’s best childhood friend. Henry is also Vlad’s drudge. They have grown up together and Henry became Vlad’s drudge in a rather innocent way (if I remember my CoVT correctly).
In either case, Joss moves in with Henry and he and Vlad become very close friends–even supplanting Henry as BFF, for a bit. That is, until Joss learns that Vlad is a vampire…
So in FIRST KILL Vlad and Joss aren’t friends–this happens before Joss moves in with Henry in the Vlad chronology. Speaking of chronology, the Vlad books are all based on a school year, rather like Harry Potter. In contrast, the Slayer Chronicles all take place over a summer. So if you need a read order, FIRST KILL probably should come after EIGHTH GRADE BITES, Then, of course, SECOND CHANCE takes place the summer following NINTH GRADE SLAYS. then I’d read TENTH GRADE BLEEDS, followed by the final book in the Slayer series: THIRD STRIKE. And of course complete the Vlad books forthwith…
In THIRD STRIKE, we have more than just a resolution, we have an enrichment that allows Joss to transition from Vlad-Killer to Vlad-Assistor, what is necessary for the final two books of the Vlad series to makes sense.
At least where Joss is concerned.
See, Joss is a Slayer. Following the murder of his younger sister Cecile, he’s been brutally trained by his uncle, Abraham, to be a ruthless killer of vampires–all vampires. And that’s really the problem. Joss is troubled, as Abraham knew he would be, about killing people he has known as friends–even when it turns out they are vampires.
Sure, he has attempted to kill them: Sirus and Vlad both fell prey to Joss’s attack, but was really trying to kill them? I mean, was Vlad any match to Joss’s superior agility and hunting acumen? I think not. This is why Joss is suspected by the Slayer Society for being a traitor. In THIRD STRIKE Joss is saddled with the task of ridding his hometown of Santa Carla of a vampire infestation. If he fails, Santa Carla will be “cleansed”–pretty much the Slayer Society will descend en masse and kill every living creature within the city. This includes Joss, his parents and Henry, his cousin, who is staying for a month so that they can work on their ‘relationship’. Cousin Henry wasn’t so keen on Joss trying to murder Vlad, his BFF and master, after all. Oh, and Joss has to do this all on his own, with no outside Slayer back-up.
K. So, I ain’t gonna ruin the book. I have so enjoyed the fast pace and twisty plots offered in the series I’m unwilling to unravel them for future readers. I will tell you this much: Joss’ worst nightmares are about to come true. He’s also got to find help from sources the Slayer Society would not approve–oh, and Henry? He’s gonna fall hard for a gal hell-bent on retribution.
Any person you thought dead in previous slayer books? Well, maybe they didn’t stay dead long. I’m just glad to see that the series dovetailed so nicely with the Vlad books, and that Joss turns out to be exactly the sympathetic character I had hoped he would become.
Truly, I loved Joss. His life absolutely sucks–and not in the Vlad way, in the bad way. His family is a shambles, he is friendless, and performs a job that is utterly thankless. In fact, his job as a Slayer costs him every freaking friend he makes.
And yet, he is honest. He is compassionate. He seeks to do his very best, knowing it will earn him little more than scorn and apathy. And, through all of this, Joss learns to see that perhaps following orders is not the best move, especially when you have no idea who is making the orders, and if those orders are right.
Joss learns to think. And to question authority, but only after experiencing the horror blindly following authority can create. There are few male characters I’ve wanted to hug, and Joss is one of them…so long as he keeps his stake holstered, that is.
I’d recommend the Slayer books to any fan of YA paranormal fiction. These aren’t romances, and don’t really hint at romance the way the Vlad books do. So, they are ‘innocent’ unless you don’t like gore. Because there’s a whole lotta slayin’ goin’ on here.