Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mel and Cathy and Anna have passed vampires on the street, and sat near them in cinemas, but they don't know any. Vampires stick to their own kind, and Mel and her friends hang out with other humans - until a vampire boy in a bizarre sun-proof suit shows up at school and captures Cathy's heart.

Mel is horrified. Can she convince Cathy that life with a vampire is no life at all? Should she? And then all her assumptions about vampires are turned on their head when she meets Kit, a boy who makes her laugh - a boy with a very unusual family history.

Will Mel's staunch anti-vampire stance jeopardise her closest friendships? And where does Kit fit in? In the end, who will choose...Team Human?

This novel was published in 2012, and I initially read it last year, but never wrote up my thoughts on it. I don't read a ton of paranormal romance these days (and it hasn't really appealed to me as a genre since I was thirteen or fourteen), but when I revisited Team Human I thought it was such an excellent example of YA paranormal romance done right that I wanted to share my rambly, rambly thoughts on it.

What I loved about Team Human was that it functioned both as a satirical take on the entire young adult vampire fiction phenomenon/subgenre and as a really enjoyable and immensely readable novel about vampires, that was as humorous as it was thought-provoking. I am not a fan of vampire romance, love triangles, or angsty, angsty undead old guys who look like young men. If you aren't either, Team Human is well worth reading - I think it'll appeal to paranormal romance fans and non-paranormal romance fans alike. It's much more about friendship than it is about romance, and that's something I really appreciated. Despite the fact that Mel and Cathy live in a place where vampires exist among them, there's a real authenticity and realism to their lives - their parents are actually around and interested in them, they don't have unlimited money or cars, they go to a public school and do their homework and are otherwise pretty normal teenagers, making them a lot easier to relate to.

Mel is an at times unsympathetic protagonist - she is so vehemently opposed to vampires she can be pretty nasty - but who grows a great deal over the course of the novel and loses at least some of her prejudice. The cover is less-than-stellar, and the US cover uses the same models, and possibly is even worse. I think it's awesome that all the central characters aren't super-white - Mel is Chinese-American - and that that's represented on the cover, but the guy in the background is... creepy. So, ignore the cover. Unless you like it! I'm a big fan of the tagline, though, and it sums up pretty accurately what the book is about - friends not letting friends date vampires.

There's no alternating point-of-view one might expect in a co-written novel; the narration is seamless, and it's an easy read. Plus: there's zombies. You know how much I love zombies. If you don't: I love zombies. A lot. Not in real life. Please, never in real life. But in stories, yes. Every film, TV show and novel could be improved by the addition of zombies. I'm really hoping that a sequel to Team Human eventually shows up, because I'd love to find out what happens after the ending, and I'd love to see how Cathy's story in particular continues.

Team Human on the publisher's website.
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