Book Review

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan: A Guest Review by CarrieS


Title: Team Human
Author: Justine, Sarah Rees Larbalestier, Brennan
Publication Info: HarperTeen 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-208964-9
Genre: Young Adult

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

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.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Mai says:

    I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who cried.  It was a great book and I can’t wait for the follow-up.

  2. 2
    Anony Miss says:

    Added to the (really long) wish list! Thanks!

  3. 3

    This sounds like a definite winner. Onto the TBR pile it goes.

  4. 4
    hapax says:

    As much as I loved DEMON’S LEXICON and LIAR (and I think that they are darn near perfect) Rees Brennan and Larbalestier have done their best work so far in this collaboration.  They manage to balance each other’s faults and riff off each other’s strengths perfectly.

    It may have started as a TWILIGHT parody (and it works, hilariously, at that level) but it ends up being a surprisingly sharp and profound take on friendship and love and choice all by itself. 

    (and yes, romance fans, Mel and Kit are just about the Cutest Couple Evah)

  5. 5
    Kyra Cornelius Kramer says:

    My TBR pile is growing and my free time is shrinking. I call shenanigans.

  6. 6

    Oooh, I took your advice and just bought it. Though I love when things get really critical and analytical around here at SBTB (the grade D and F books are some of my most fav reviews! Does that make me a bad person? You all are just so funny!) This time the lack of a breakdown was what pushed me to get the book. Loved that it was a tease – Plus, even though I’m an admitted Twilight lover…I’m excited to see the other side presented ;)

  7. 7

    I look around with shining joy at this, my Smart Bitches week. ;) But I am not being a loon and commenting on either of my reviews, I just wanted to say, sorry to disappoint, Mai, it’s a standalone. (Hi y’all I love this site, this and the Unspoken review is all very excitin’.)

  8. 8
    Sarah says:

    YOU’RE SO NOT! I expected buttloads of funny and laughing. I was SO surprised when I cried in it, too! I’m ALSO glad I wasn’t alone :D

  9. 9
    Sarah says:

    YES! I really REALLY enjoyed this one! And I think, most of all, because of how much it surprised me with its depth. I was expecting, while not parody, satire. And hey, I GOT that (and was well pleased), but it had so, so much more. Unpexpected, wonderful, dazzling depths.

    “This book isn’t about vampires.  It’s about humans in all their different permutations, and it’s about growing up.” <—- THIS THIS THIS ???

  10. 10
    Laragrey says:

    It is one of my favorite books this year! I flew through it in one evening because I couldn’t bear not knowing what happened. And for my money, the scene where Kit points out the flaws inherent in human phone customs (you’ll know it when you read it) is one of the sweetest things ever.

  11. 11
    DesLivres says:

    Just read it based on the review – thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the way it’s about the lives of the onlookers of the “Great Vampiric Romance”. Will now go and have a look at the authors’ other work.

  12. 12
    Katie says:

    Because of this review, I just picked the book up from the library.  Absolutely devoured it! I think I may have to reread it :)

  13. 13
    The Fairy Godmother says:

    This book was all kinds of awesome and yes, I cried too.

  14. 14
    Ms. Cats Meow says:

    Based on this review, I bought the Kindle version this morning.  Even though I had a really busy day, and should be doing other things right now, I’m 39% of the way through and very much enjoying it. 

  15. 15
    DBChen says:

    I bought this months ago and enjoyed it quite a bit, though I don’t remember crying.

    One reason I got it was the fact that Mel, the heroine, is ABC like me (American Born Chinese). And she doesn’t do any martial arts, nor is she a straight A student.  You cannot imagine how refreshing that is to read in a sci-fi/fantasy romance with a heroine of Chinese heritage.

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