Bitchin' Blog Posts
Title: Team Human
Author: Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
Publication Info: HarperTeen 2012
Genre: Young Adult
Here's my second monster-iffic review in honor of Halloween - and this one is a must read! Team Human is funny, it's thought provoking, it's sweet, and it made me cry when I least expected it. And yes, there is lovely romance in it.
Although it's not a romance novel, I enjoyed watching the couples in this book interact and develop as couples and as people more than I've enjoyed many romantic pairs in romance novels lately.
I've heard Team Human described as an affectionate parody of Twilight, and that's partially accurate, but I'm not sure the term "parody" gives it justice. It's a very thoughtful and suspenseful book for all its humor. Basically, Mel is a teenager who lives in a town that was founded by vampires. The vampires live in a separate section of town and generally stay apart from humans, but one day a gorgeous vampire teen named Francis enrolls at Mel's high school. Mel's best friend, Cathy, is instantly smitten with Francis and when her adoration is requited, she decides to become a vampire to join her beloved. Mel is horrified and tries everything she can think of to change Cathy's mind.
The premise is funny, and those of us who were baffled and/or appalled by the popularity of Twilight can take great delight in Mel's constantly increasing exasperation with her swooning friend. However, what's really cool about the book is that it takes the premise a step further..and further...and further and gets into more and more interesting questions. There's just so much stuff in this book , and it never stops being funny except for when it makes you cry. Meanwhile the romance between Cathy and Francis is more layered than one might think, and Mel finds herself attracted to Kit, a human who was adopted by a vampire family which happens to include Francis.
Team Human is told in first person narration, and that's important, because Mel's motivations are what keep her sympathetic even when she is at her most flawed. At first Mel seems like a voice of reason, but it becomes evident that Mel can be horribly self-righteous. In addition, she's smart but hopelessly impulsive, and she always thinks she knows best.
Mel is also a bigot. Where the book shines is in calling her out on her flaws, giving her opportunities to grow, and letting her rise to the occasion. The first person narration helps the reader stick with Mel because her motives are never in doubt. She loves her friends, she is fiercely loyal to them, and she believes it is her role to help them with their problems (and they have lots of problems). As exasperating as she can be, you truly won't regret having spent time with her.
Sometimes I want to write tons of deep analysis and sometimes I just want to say, "Go read it". This is one of the latter times, which is ironic because there's a lot to analyze - but why read my review analyzing the book when you could be actually reading the book itself? The book is affectionate yet pointed enough so that regardless of whether you love or hate any of the vampire franchises out there you'll find something great in the book, and if you don't care about vampires one way or another you'll still like it because really, this book isn't about vampires. It's about humans in all their different permutations, and it's about growing up.