Book Review: Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

New Whitby, Maine is a vampire town. The vampires came to America much like other persecuted minorities fleeing Europe, and they’ve been here ever since. Mostly they keep to themselves in the Shades, which is why it’s such a surprise to Mel and her best friend Cathy to meet one, decked in a ridiculously bulky protective sun suit, on the steps of their high school. As Mel opines, “A vampire who wants to go to high school? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

When the vampire removes his helmet, Cathy is smitten. Francis is pale, handsome, graceful, gracious and mannerly, and of course, over 150 years old, and strictly speaking, dead. Mel is immediately on guard. Why is Francis here? What does he really want? Why can’t Cathy see how incredibly irritating he is? Does she actually want to date him? Adding to Mel’s growing frustration with vampires is their other friend Anna, whose father has left the family and run away from home with a vampire. Mel decides she needs to do something about these vampires that seem to be ruining her life.

Team Human is the new novel cowritten by established YA authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. It takes a skewed look at the paranormal romance trend, questioning the idea of true love between an immortal blood drinker and a high school girl. The book features strong world-building, showing vampires as a part of society, with their own police force, vampire tourism and “vamposeurs” – vampire groupies. Mel narrates the book, and she is a great character, with her own strengths, flaws and a strong sense of humour. Humour is a major feature of the book, with several laugh-out-loud-on-the-train moments for this reviewer. The varied and engaging cast of characters provide more than laughs, however, producing some moments of true poignancy.

Team Human is a fast, funny novel about love, friendship, mortality, and the perils of dating the undead. A recommended read both for lovers of vampires and for those that are over them.

Allen & Unwin

Review by Heath, Learning Services, State Library of Victoria.

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