A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Friendship and personal sacrifice are big themes. But there's also plenty of lying, blackmail, and stealing.
Positive Role Models
Darren is an incredibly conflicted character. He steals and lies but pays for his actions by having to sacrifice himself. He refuses to drink human blood for a long time, despite what it does to his health. He's concerned about the possibility of becoming evil because he's a half vampire and recognizes other characters as evil and to be avoided. He comes up with a clever plan to save a friend but puts innocent lives in danger to enact it. Mr. Crepsley made a mistake in making Darren a vampire but seems to act in Darren's best interests most of the time. Darren watches a lot of television during the day while he waits for Mr. Crepsley to wake up.
Violence & Scariness
Hands are bitten off. A near-fatal poisoning. Wild animals and livestock are killed frequently, with mentions of necks broken. Bones chewed. Grisly deaths by evisceration. Blood usually sucked from humans with no intention of killing -- until the third book, when a special vampire kills indiscriminately (taking the essence of that person along with all their blood). Sad death of a friend and another almost killed. Mentions of past murders.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild romance by the third book, with a couple of kisses. Mention of a hotel guest parading around without his clothes.
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A bit of mild swearing, mostly "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of The Simpsons.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults and teens drink wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the author claims in the introduction to Cirque Du Freak, the first of the 12-part Saga of Darren Shan series featuring circus freaks and vampires, that this is a true story, which some young readers may find confusing. The 2009 movie The Vampire's Assistant is based on the first three. As you'd expect from any vampire series, there's violence, and some characters die, but things only get gory at the end of each book. Most notably violent moments are when limbs are bitten off and characters lose their stomachs to attacks. By the third installment, a crazed creature is on the loose killing indiscriminately.
Is It Any Good?
Creepy thrills and chills abound in this series, which is not for the faint of heart but could hook reluctant readers. It may not be high art, but it's addictive.
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