Pros: Whoa! Shan, I am surprised (and pleased) with the violence!
Cons: Not too much going on until the end.
The Bottom Line: Remember kids, this is teen HORROR, so don't read it if you don't expect something horrific to happen at some point.
By accident, I started reading this book first. I'd seen the trailer for the movie and after eyeing Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak series at work for so long, I finally decided I ought to read it. Sure, it's in the teen section, but what do I care?
This is the second book out of twelve, so you'd best start here or you'll get rather confused.
Darren Shan used to have a normal life. But now he's the assistant of a vampire - a Mr. Crepsley to be precise. He's a half-vampire and needs to learn the ropes of vamiredom. He won't drink human blood though. He does get to finally hook up with the rest of the Cirque Du Freak though, and that should prove to be interesting.
Yes, just in case you're confused, the protagonist has the same name as the writer. Actually, the protagonist is billing this story as his (as if the two were actually one and the same), and Darren isn't even his real name. It's told in first person from Darren himself.
Overall, it's an interesting book without much of a plot going on. Basically you follow Darren around as he learns a few things from Mr. Crepsley, does work at the Cirque, and develops a friendship with Evra Von, the snake boy. After a while I started to wonder who the antagonist was and if anything important was going to happen, a question that didn't get answered until nearly the end of the book. Still, you have to read this one in order to get from point A to point B in the series...though now that I think about it I'm not really sure how important it is in the big scheme of things. Maybe you could get away with not reading it after all...
Just as with the first book, I take issue with the number of exclamation points, but moreso with the bits that end the chapters. Sometimes you'll read something like, "If I knew what was to come, I would have told him never to come back" or other tidbits that basically tell you, "Well, that character is going to die. Thanks for the heads up." Hmph. I don't like being told what's going to happen ahead of time. Can I be surprised please?
It's short and entertaining, so that's fine. I mean, I polished off this book and the previous one in a matter of hours. They're not hard to get through and do their job well (entertainment and fictional fun). There is some violence at the end - surprising violence, in fact. One of those moments where you sit back and say, "Whoa! Ok, that's uh...yeah." But you have to remember that these books are supposed to be horror books, and violence does indeed fall into the realm of horror. So don't buy these for your kids if you think they're going to be happy and fun. I know they say you shouldn't just a book by it's cover, but for these, the covers pretty much tell you everything you need to know about the sort of story you'll find inside. Personally, what with so little else happening so far, I was quite pleased with the sudden impact, though I did certainly think, "Wow. That sucks" for the characters' sakes.