Sunday, 22 July 2012

REVIEW: Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

Pub. Date: July 3rd 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 352
Readership: Young adult
Genres: paranormal, vampires
Rating: ★★★★

Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn't mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It's up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity. 
On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.

When I first saw this book at Chapters, I hadn't really heard anything about it. I read the tag line and I read the flap and I thought to myself "really? more vampires? like this?" and put it right back on the shelf where I thought it belonged. The YA market is over saturated with vampire novels. Some are good, some are jokes, and some try to hard and end up crashing and burning before page 100. I made a snap judgement and thought Team Human would be one of the latter books. How silly of me! When I got home I saw a few people say how great it was, people whose opinions on book I trust, so I thought I might as well give it a shot. At worst it'll be a waste of time but a good laugh, right? Then I found out it was a parody of sorts. A realistic spin on Twilight. A book that focuses on the best friend as opposed to the girl so blindly in love with cliched handsome, gentlemanly old vampire.

Not 20 pages in, I was in love with Mel. She doesn't like vampires. No, she really doesn't like vampires. The vampires in Team Human can't laugh. They can't go out in the sunlight. They can't do much of anything except brood, drink blood and stick to their side of town called the Shade. However, she never really met a vampire until Francis enrolled in her school. He's every cliche you can think of: handsome, broody, chivalrous and perpetually stuck in the 1800s, with old school manners and an old school mindset. Eyeroll, right? To top it all off, Mel's head-in-the-clouds, serious minded best friend Cathy falls in love with him. Cathy and Francis are hopelessly, sickeningly in love - think Edward and Bella. Mel is Not Amused. She tries and tries relentlessly to tear the couple apart, to get Cathy to see the light so to speak but it just doesn't work.

Mel is great. She is the very human contrast to the vampires. She is loud, she laughs like he's her job. She jokes. She is the overbearing at times but she is loyal to a fault; she will do absolutely anything for her friends even if it might not be what they want (re: the Cathy situation). She has the best of intentions for Cathy, though, as well as her other friend Anna. Cathy's vampire romance isn't the only issue going on in New Whitby that Mel is tied up in. She is also trying to help Anna find out what's wrong with her mother and what happened to her father.

I love how the authors juggled both situations; the very real and scary drama of what Anna was going through and the over the top vampire romance of Cathy. They were able to poke fun and show that vampire romances are not as glamourous and fun and romantic as people believe. There is a very real chance that you will die - or even become a zombie! - during the transition process. It was a nice twist on the traditional vampire lore.

Not only was Mel fantastic, but the other characters were as well. Anna is the quiet, beautiful daughter of the Principal whose father went AWOL. Cathy is the head-in-the-clouds, serious minded best friend who is in love with a vampire and wants to become one. Kit is the guy who grew up with vampires. Ty is the ex-boyfriend but good friend. Even Mel's parents, brother and sister were fantastic and we only got to see them a handful of times.

Team Human pleasantly surprised me. It has wonderful, face-paced writing with characters you cheer for. It has a fantastic, real and ballsy heroine that makes her mistakes but hey, at least she realizes she does in the end, right? It's not just a story about vampire/human romance. It is a story about friendship and the length that friends will go to help one another. I enjoyed it immensely.

(Anyone else think it should be a show!? Haha.)



  1. Glad to see you enjoyed this book. I've heard so much talk about it and it looks absolutely hilarious! Great review!

  2. I did wonder about TEAM HUMAN thank you. It seems to be everywhere right now.

  3. It seems this book is great.nice job.keep it that way.