As a 15 Year Old emphatic reader, I don't struggle to get through 3 or 4 novels a week plus - but it's still rare that I manage an entire 250 page novel in one 2 1/2 hour sitting. Birth of a Killer is another fabulous instalment to an already incredible repertoire by Darren Shan. I ordered the book from amazon a few days ago, but a friend gave me their copy, saying I had to read it immediately. I started at 9 O'Clock this morning (during an exam revision session in school) and powered through, not being able to look up - as I quite literally found my self hurling through Larten's initial adventures with him on every turn of the page. Before I knew it my school bell was ringing at 11:10 but I couldn't get up! I genuinely couldn't bring myself to put the book down! Unfortunately, by the time I'd finished it, break was over and everyone was coming back into the room ... but it was worth it!
I think this book shows another side to Shan. Having not read The Demonata Series I'm unable to comment on those, but from my experience of The Saga of Darren Shan he is a writer who draws readers in by bundling them from one fast paced action sequence to the next, and indeed from reading some of The Demonata reviews this is the impression I get. The Birth of a Killer takes a step back, especially in the first half of the book, and looks more at the emotional side of things, especially as Larten makes the decision between becoming a Vampire's Assistant and committing himself to a life of darkness, or staying in the human world and ... I wont tell you what drove him to becoming a Vampire - that would spoil it! This somewhat more emotional outlook, in no way impairs the story line though! Shan makes sure we're always well stocked on bloody feuds and heart stopping punch-ups - indeed the murder the title refers to comes only 40 or 50 pages in. There is quite literally, never a dull moment.
As to whom I would advise this book to? Anyone. The best thing about this book is probably the fact that it doesn't rely on having read The Saga of Darren Shan. Although it is a prequel, there is nothing to suggest you would have less understanding, or get less out of the book, having not read about Larten's adult life. We are set the scene brilliantly in the initial chapters about Larten's childhood, vanquishing the need to understand him as an adult during the Cirque du Freak years. Obviously, I think this series concept may be more aimed at males, but it is not gory in anyway, despite murders, so I would wholeheartedly recommend it to women as well. For the same reason, I don't think younger readers would have a problem. the language is not overly challenging, and I think it will provide the same brilliant reaction to everyone - young and old. I would recommend it to anyone, and I hope - after seeing the amazing reviews and buying the book - you will too.