Author: Jason Henderson
Published: May 1st 2010 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult
A descendant of legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, fourteen-year-old Alex is stuck at boarding school near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, when he finds himself drawn into a web of paranormal intrigue. It turns out that Lake Geneva is also home to a secret school for vampires called the Scholomance—and now to a dangerous vampire clan lord known only as Icemaker, who’s using the Scholomance for his own dangerous endgame. With the help of his friends and of special agent Sangster, it’s up to Alex to fulfill his family destiny and stop Icemaker’s frightening plans once and for all.
Alex Van Helsing kind of reminded me a little of "Harry Potter”: boy comes to a boarding school, is somehow different, is being picked on by bullies, finds friends and faces dangers and mortal enemies. It´s not a bad thing, really!
Alex is a very strong character for being only fourteen years old. Even though he is being sent to a foreign country, experiencing things that –according to his father- just can´t be. At first, he tries to make himself believe he´s turning crazy (seemingly a poplar coping mechanism among character who are introduced into the superal world)But with his last name, the reader doesn´t have to wait long for supernatural trouble.
Of cousre, he doesn´t have to face the trouble alone On his side are his new-found friends: Sid, who obesses about vampires, Paul and Minhi, the girl with the brains and mad kung-fu skills from another local, all-girls boarding school. Also, there is Alex´s teacher Mr. Sangster, who is definetly more than meets the eye and has not only a secret identity, but also something else we´ll hopefully find out in the next book.
All of those characters are wrapped up in a stroy that does a great job of entertaining you with the right amont of pace, suspense and twists.
Jason Henderson stays true to the classical role assignment: vamps are definetly the bad guys in this book. Along with the all-powerful arch-nemesis of Alex´s family who wants to tries to force his very own plan into motion. The author has definetly set his world up to make an impression: The very first appearance of the enemy complete with security and limos makes quite an impression. Add to that a secret anti-vamire organisation, the secret underwater school for vampires and the very fitting name of the vampire leader, Icemaker and you get one great worldbulding.
Alex Van Helsing is definetly a Young Adult book, which is not a bad thing. I can really imagine that readers around the same age as the protagonist (especially the male ones) will really enjoy this book.
What really appealed to me were all the literary references throughout the book: Jason Herderson ties his vampires to Lord Byron (yes, THE Lord Byron), Dracula, Frankenstein and adds a literary nod to zombies and you get a James Bond meets Buffy the vampire Slayer for Young Adults, even though older readers might prefer another kind of book.