Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead by Jason Henderson

Here is what I had to say about the first book in the Alex Van Helsing series:

This was another hard to rate YA fantasy adventure novel. It has a nice hook (a Van Helsing is sent to a Geneva boarding school after getting in to trouble at his previous school and finds out his famous last name more appropriate than he ever thought) and some good action but it just feels little thin somehow. The set up is good but it just never really grabbed my attention.

There was enough to like, however, that I decided to give the second book – Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead – a try.  And I am glad I did because it picked up the pace and character development creating a much more satisfying story.

Here is the publishers blurb for the sequel

Now that Alex is in the know about the deadly vampires that live—and hunt—around his boarding school, everything is different. Putting his talents to use, Alex is training with the Polidorium to become a vampire hunter, just like his Van Helsing ancestors. Sure, he’s only fourteen, but c’mon: This runs in his blood.

But Alex is wondering if he’ll live long enough to succeed. His archnemesis Elle, a vampire whose youthful appearance and blond hair disguise a rage that’s directed at him, is out to get him before a powerful leader called Ultravox arrives on the scene. Ultravox specializes in assassinations, but who is he targeting? As he dodges Elle’s attacks, Alex is on a mission to uncover Ultravox’s deadly plan before his friends and his school become collateral damage. There’s no time to report back; innocent lives hang in the balance, and it’s on Alex to act now—or else.

My take after the jump.

As I noted above, this second book was much better than the first in my opinion. The plot was more involved and the balance between action and character development was much better. As a YA adventure novel the plot is not all that complex and the characters are not particular deep but the story develops nicely and the tension builds with some nice side stories.

In a way the first book serves as an introduction to the characters and the basic set-up of the series. It wasn’t as satisfying but with the second book details can be filled in and characters more fully developed.  This time around you really felt like their was risk involved for key characters. And the multiple plot threads mean a more complex interaction between them. You finally begin to get a sense of who the characters are and the setting seems three dimensional rather than flat and thin.

Ultravox was a nice villain and the concept added a thread that could pull both the action of the school(s) and the larger vampire versus human battle.  The continuing battle with Elle and the development of the Merrill brothers added a nice touch as well – some tension and an extra burst of action.

Looks like this is turning into a nice series for those looking for action adventure with a vampire twist.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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