Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 10 to 14
- Grade: 5 to 9
- Reading age: 10 to 14
Fifteen-year-old Charlie Harker is pretty disappointed to learn he'll be spending his summer vacation helping his mom renovate an old family inn in the “hick town” of Rolling Hills. He much preferred his plan of lounging on a beach in Hawaii. And now he has to deal with his annoying neighbor Miles Van Helsing, who's been trying to convince him there's paranormal activity going on in town. Charlie knows this can't be true. Miles is just nuts, right? Although he has to admit, it is getting harder and harder to explain all the odd situations he keeps finding himself in, particularly once the sun goes down. And it does seem like an awful lot of people are getting sick ...
Author James Leck hits all the right notes in this young-adult novel: adventure, suspense, funny dialogue and, best of all, zombie-vampires! This fast-moving page-turner will be a favorite read for pre-teens. Leck has created an appealing character in Charlie: the lovable slacker and consummate prankster at Choke Academy boarding school who's always quick with a clever or sarcastic comment. But Charlie proves in the end that he can step up to a challenge and show leadership and courage when he needs to. With characteristics of several different genres, this book makes a great choice for a language arts discussion of literary genres. Despite the zombie-vampires, Leck deftly avoids the carnage, so the story never reaches the level of horror.
About the author
James Leck was born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in 1973. He is a high school teacher who has spent a lot of time around teenagers, using their sardonic and offbeat voices in his writing. He is author of The Adventures of Jack Lime and After Dark.
For those that enjoy quirky and wisecracking characters, Charlie Harker is your guy.—CM Magazine
... Charlie's snarky narration and skewed outlook make this a solid choice. A great light read for graduates of John Kloepfer's The Zombie Chasers (2010).—Kirkus Reviews
Snappy dialogue, irreverent humour, and an almost transcendent understanding of what makes a teenage boy tick render After Dark the first irresistibly hilarious and scary instalment in what promises to be a very successful series.—Quill & Quire