Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner, 336 pp, RL 4

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner
Signed Copy Purchased at Barnes & Noble
Dedicated to, "the shy kids and the slayers," Fake Blood is a sweet, strange, funny graphic novel about friendship, fitting in, fake blood and a real vampire. Sweet humor and genuine emotion and adolescent angst are perfectly expressed by Gardner's illustration style that (to steal an apt comparison made by another reviewer) is a Northwest mash-up of Raina Telgemeier and Noelle Stevenson. 
Set in Portland, Oregon, AJ feels unremarkable after spending the summer before sixth grade reading in the library instead of doing adventurous, exciting things like his best friends, the ultra competitive Hunter and Ivy, who are always trying to one-up each other. AJ also happens to have a crush on fellow book lover, Nia, (it's so much fun to read the titles of the books Gardner invents for her to be reading as well as the made up characters and plots we get glimpses of) who also happens to fancy herself a vampire hunter. AJ, with the help of his fifteen-year-old-sister BB's bookshelves, starts immersing himself in the world of vampires and even begins to try passing himself off as one, wearing sunglasses all day and smearing fake blood on his gums. When AJ and Nia are paired up to do a geography report for new teacher and British import Mr. Niles, they choose Transylvania, of course. As the two get closer, things seem good but go bad. AJ is forced to reveal his secret when Nia shows him a coat full of weapons that she is going to have to use on him. Happily, there actually is a real vampire in their midst and Gardner brings the friends, the slayer and even big sister BB together for a climactic, hilarious ending.

At 336 pp, this is a long graphic novel, but one that is an utter delight to, forgive the pun, sink your teeth into...

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