Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action-packed vampire story has more violence and much less romance than the first book in the Twilight series. It also has more humor! The first two thirds of the story focus on the friendships between Alex and three new friends, the boarding school experience, and Alex's discovery about his parents, his powers, and the literary history of vampires. The final third veers into more traditional vampire storytelling, with blood drinking, holy water, and death by staking. Despite several murders, the blood and gore level is not overdone.
What's the story?
Fourteen-year-old Alex Van Helsing just started school in a brand-new place: the Glenarvon Academy in Geneva, Switzerland. Despite the family name, his father has always insisted there was no such thing as vampires. Like the character Luce in Kate's The Fallen, Alex fears he is going insane until a vampire attacks him on his second day in Geneva. He quickly learns that vampires (and werewolves) do exist, he can "sense" vampires, that there is an actual vampire-fighting organization in Geneva called the Polidorium, and that his father was a former vampire hunter. When his new friends are kidnapped by a vampire clan lord known as the Icemaker, Alex must help the Polidorium find the vampires' hidden headquarters.
Is it any good?
Male-bonding over manga, girls, and bullying, a sympathetic mentor/vampire fighter who rides a fast motorbike, and lots of humor make this novel rise above the standard vampire fare. Author James Henderson also writes comic books, which explains his ability to write humorous dialogue and action-packed scenes. Some readers may enjoy the first part of the story more as it focuses on Alex's adjustment to his new school and making new friends at the same time he discovers family secrets and the existence of vampires; others may prefer the more violent and creepy attack on the vampire school. Either way, there will be more Alex Van Helsing books to bite into.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about horror and why some teens like to be scared. How does Vampire Rising compare to other vampire books you've read? More or less scary? Why do you think the vampire genre is so big right now?
What did you think of the violence in this book? Was it too intense? Was it necessary given the vampire storyline? Is it different to read about violence than experience it in a movie or video game?
For kids who love vampires and other fantasy creatures
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.