Review: Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan & Justine Larbalestier

Team Human
by Sarah Rees Brennan & Justine Larbalestier

ISBN-13: 9-780062-089649
Publication: July 2012 from HarperTeen
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
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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 stays 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 her to or not), Mal 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.

Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier is a hilarious, yet somehow still serious, story about one girl’s decision to save her friend from a fate worse than death – falling in love with, and becoming, a vampire.

Mel lives in a town founded, and populated, by vampires. Though she recognizes that they exist and have a place in their town, that does not mean she wants to see her best friend become one. When vampire Francis shows up at school and Cathy is immediately intrigued and smitten, Mel despairs. She is wary of why a vampire over a hundred years old would suddenly want to join high school and can’t believe how much attention he is getting from the student body. A line on page sixteen had me laughing out loud, though my mom didn’t quite get the humour when I insisted on reading her the scene and line. But come on, how can “It seemed to me like there was an urgent need for someone to yell, ‘Anyone who licks that vampire gets a detention!'” not be funny? Mel has a great sense of humour and is extremely loyal to her friends and family. She can be a bit prejudiced against the vampires, but acknowledges her flaw and is working on her perception of them. She can be a little impatient and reckless, but she genuinely tries to help and cares for those close to her.

In a more serious narrative (wherein the vampire and human falling in love is the whole plot point), Cathy and Francis’ insta-love would have immediately turned me off of the book. Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier, however, have made it so that the instant connection between the two is the hurdle that Mel has to overcome in her friendship with Cathy, since Mel sees the whole thing as fairly ridiculous. Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Cathy. Who makes the decision to turn into a vampire for a guy after only knowing them a few weeks? Team Human isn’t just about Mel coming to terms with Cathy and Francis, though. There is an interesting side mystery involving Mel’s friend Anna, Anna’s mother and Anna’s father who supposedly ran off to be with a vampire (who had been his patient. Vampires have psychologists. Who knew?), and a love story for Mel herself after she meets Kit, a human who belongs to Francis’ shade (nest, if we channel Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and has the best sense of humour and can’t drive to save his life.

Team Human by Sarah Rees Brenna and Justine Larbalestier showcases some very interesting vampire mythology. The humour, antics, characters, exploration of prejudice through vampires and zombies (did I forget to mention the zombies?) make Team Human a hard book to put down. There are crazy hijinks from Mel and Kit while trying to help Anna solve the mystery of her missing father and increasingly weird-behaviour mother, a really touching scene at the end that revolves around Cathy, and all the little details present in the story (ex. space-like suits for vampires to venture out during the day) help create an attention grabbing plot and world. If you like to laugh and want a new outlook on the whole vampire genre, definitely pick up Team Human!