ARC Review: Team Human

Team HumanTeam Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sara Rees Brennan
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal
Received: Amazon Vine
Originally Reviewed: February 20, 2013
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description (via Amazon):

Readers who love vampire romances will be thrilled to devour Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. Team Human celebrates and parodies the Twilight books, as well as other classics in the paranormal romance genre.

Mel is horrified when Francis Duvarney, arrogant, gorgeous, and undead, starts at her high school. Mel’s best friend, Cathy, immediately falls for the vampire. Cathy is determined to be with him forever, even if having him turn her could inadvertently make her a zombie.

And Mel is equally determined to prove to her BFF that Francis is no good, braving the city’s vampire district and kissing a cute boy raised by vampires as she searches evidence in this touching and comic novel.

*****

As I started reading Team Human, I couldn’t help but feel this was written as a good-natured poke at Twilight and all the vampire ridiculata left in its wake. However, the story leaves its parodying fairly early on and becomes a book in its own right, with characters who have flaws and an interesting world with its own set of rules. All the while written with wit, feeling, and reality.

Mel Duan is the protagonist of the book, who is full of character flaws. She is prejudiced against vampires, rude, thinks she always knows the right thing to do, and is a big buttinsky (I call her Meddling Mel). She’s also caring, loyal, helpful, well-meaning, funny, and charming in her own way. Basically, Mel is a real human being. There are two main storylines in the book, the first one about her BFF, Cathy, and her relationship with an uptight vampire. The other dealing with a mystery involving another close friend and her parents. Both are incorporated into the story well, as are the smaller B-plots. Mel doesn’t always come across in a very good light, which helps me fall into the world and believe it could be true. Nothing takes me out of a story more than an unrealistically perfect character. Not one of the characters in this book is like that, even Cathy, who does come close. I also love the fact that Mel would typically be the sidekick in any other story and Cathy the main character who falls in love with a vampire. Instead it’s the other way around, so we see the over-the-top relationship from the outside, and also from Mel’s rather small-minded point-of-view. It’s a great idea that luckily works thanks to the talented authors.

The book moves along nicely without seeming hasty, it has lessons that aren’t heavy-handed, it features love aspects but it isn’t a love story, and most importantly, it has character evolution and believable characters, mainly Mel herself. In the end I was surprised that I had gotten so caught up in outcome of the story and actually cared what happened to these people. Kudos, I’ll definitely be reading more from both Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier, and can only hope they conspire to write another book in the future.