Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson

Alex Van Helsing's last name has always been the subject of vampire jokes, and he himself has never taken the idea of blood-sucking monsters seriously -- until he is attacked by a girl with white skin and fangs. His father has told him all his life that "such things do not happen" but Alex know something strange is going on. One night, he sees one of his teachers at his boarding school sneak off on his motorcycle and follows him to discover that not only are vampires real, but that there is a network of vampire hunters, of which his family used to be a part of. The Polidorium -- vampire hunters -- have been tracking a dangerous vampire clan lord to find Scholomance, a secret vampire training centre. The next evening two of Alex's friends are kidnapped by the vampire lord. Alex and his teacher know they need to find Scholomance and rescue them before it's too late.
In an earlier posting, I mentioned how difficult it is to find vampires that are the traditional scary, blood-thirsty type found in Stoker's Dracula. The ones in this novel are more along those lines: white skin, long fangs, superhuman strength, and looking for human blood (actually it seems that some of the vampires in this story also want to eat human flesh). What's different is that these vampires mix technology and supernatural power, go through school/training (I find this kind of comical -- why would you need to go through training if you are naturally/impulsively evil already?) and are more on a quest for power and immortality, rather than vulnerable females. Fortunately, none of the vampires here are swooning for humans or going to high school (though there's reason to believe that Alex's teacher may have vampire blood in him).
The story itself is predictable and cliche, but it reads alright as a no-brainer action novel. There's the usual vampire lore with stakes, silver bullets and relics; weaponry (crossbows, guns, knives), some good chase scenes and explosions. No romance yet (though there is potential with one of the main female characters) and the writing is pretty passable. This is the first in a series.
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