Launching the Alex Van Helsing series, Henderson's debut is a pedestrian mashup of common contemporary genres: action hero meets vampires in an elite boarding school setting. Unlike Hogwarts, Alex's new school, Glenarvon Academy, is populated primarily with mundane (if wealthy) students; Alex, however, is far from ordinary, being descended from a family of vampire hunters, though his family's past has been kept secret from him. But Glenarvon isn't the only premier academy on Lake Geneva: its neighbors include the Scholomance, an equally elite educational facility for vampires. Early and violent encounters with vampires (which Alex has a preternatural ability both to detect and dispatch of) allay his initial skepticism about the supernatural, and soon he's gearing up to face Icebreaker, a powerful and very famous vampire. Henderson's prose is serviceable, but the dialogue in particular tends to be corny and trite ("Å`Joining the family business, are we?' Icemaker snarled"). The plot, while action-heavy, is predictable, with plenty left unanswered for future books, making this an accessible but uninspired choice for reluctant readers. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Trouble seems to follow Alex Van Helsing wherever he goes. First, the 14-year-old got kicked out of school for fighting. Then, after being transferred to Switzerland's Glenarvon Academy, he slays what appears to be a vampire in the surrounding woods. And he swears none of it has anything to do with his famous vampire-hunter surname. Right. Soon Alex's English teacher reveals that he is part of the Polidorium, a stealth quasi-military vampire-tracking organization with its eye on the Icemaker a vampire clan lord who, incidentally, is actually the poet Lord Byron. It all has something to do with the backstory to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Alex's Da Vinci Code-style digging for historical clues is the plot's high point. If there's a low point, it's probably the action-movie assault on the Scholomance ( an MIT for vampires ), but even that is invigorated by likable teen heroes with believable interests (one loves vampire lore, the other manga). This first book in the Alex Van Helsing series seriously doesn't suck.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
Gr 6-10-Alex Van Helsing always believed he was a normal teen who just happened to possess a legendary last name. All that changes when he begins to experience strange sensations and is involved in the bizarre death of a student at Frayling Prep. His parents decide to send Alex to Switzerland in order to attend Glenarvon Academy near Lake Geneva. Alex's dreams of a new beginning are shattered when he is attacked by a vampire on his second day. He must now face the realization that his instincts about supernaturals have been right all along and that they do indeed exist. Mr. Sangster, Alex's teacher, reveals to him that the Van Helsings have always been an integral part of the Polidorium, a secret organization of vampire-hunters. The Polidorium is in Lake Geneva to find the Scholomance, a vampire stronghold under the leadership of an ancient vampire known as Icemaker. When the vampires take captive two of Alex's friends, the 14-year-old must take action. Henderson references Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to weave a great story line full of action, suspense, and adventure. The satisfying story captivates readers with a modern-day spin of James Bond meets Dracula. It has lots of bite that will have readers thirsting for more.-Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.