Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising Book Poster Image
More violent and less romantic than Twilight but funnier.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

References to Byron, Mary Shelley and their works may lead teens to their books.

Positive Messages

This fun fantasy novel isn't really a message book, but it does promote loyalty to friends, and standing up for what's right.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alex volunteers to help the Polidorium fight vampires; he rescues friends after being told not to at great risk to himself. The Polidorium, which includes one of his teachers, agree not to tell his parents he is fighting vampires. His friends return his loyalty and courage in the end.


Vampires murder adults; teens kidnapped and caged; humans caged and used for blood by vampires; vampire fighters kill and burn vampires; Alex fights a werewolf. Blood and gore; vampire hunters use guns, crossbows, holy water, stakes to kill vampires.


Paul has a crush on Minhi, they hold hands.


"Damn," “hell," "ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 and 12-year-old Written bydemusiks November 11, 2010
Great new vampire slayer book. Easy read, good plot, some bad words, but not too bad. Contained some violence, but not too bad. Highly recommend to people who... Continue reading

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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? 

Book details

  • Author: Jason Henderson
  • Genre: Horror
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Publication date: May 1, 2010
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
  • Number of pages: 249
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love vampires and other fantasy creatures

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