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Review - Team Human

Monday, June 25, 2012
Team Human
by Justine Larbalestier, Sarah Rees Brennan

Publication: July 3, 2012
Pages: 344
Justine: Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Publisher: Harper Teen
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository
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 says 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 it or not), Mel 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.

I'm in love this book. I do love a book that pokes fun at something with good humor just as much as I love a nice, dark paranormal read where the characters must protect the world and themselves from something big, bad, and terrible. From the first pages, the humor is apparent in this book. You know there's going to be humor and fun when you recognize a vampire in the first chapter because its walking in broad daylight in a Hazmat suit. This novel is a parody of all things vampire and team-related. There are the vampire groupies who practically worship them, and there are the vampire haters who think its sacriligeous and downright idiotic to risk your life for immortality. In short, vampires are trending in New Whitby with near equal supporters and haters. Mel falls near the middle, being chill with vampires until they get close to her and her friends.

Mel captured my heart from the beginning. She's pushy and opinionated, set in her opinions, and judgmental. She takes charge of situations and always tries to do right by her friends. Despite claiming that Francis, the vampire Cathy falls in love with, is racist against her for being Chinese and Ty for being African-American, she is discriminating against Francis for being a vampire. Yeah, not the best way to endear yourself to someone. What makes Mel so real and endearing is that she acts the way she does because she wants to protect her friends. Because she is so strong, however, we have to witness her break down at times and learn to be more flexible, or she'll lose what she's trying to protect.

The world building is fabulous. At first, the vampires seem distant and aloof because of Mel's prejudiced views, but as she learns more about the vampires, and we with her, they become more humanized despite their forever poker faces. I enjoyed learning more about vampires, their relation to zombies, and how their world has been co-existing with ours for quite some time. There is romance--it's funny and over the top, the kind I could totally see happening in a manga--but it doesn't overtake the plot. It's a side thing that happens along the way and actually contributes to its development.

There is also great diversity in this book. Groups include skin color, sexuality, and vampirism. The diversity is far from the focus of the novel, excluding vamp prejudice--something impossible given how one of Mel's two main missions in the book is to separate Francis from her best friend. (The other mission being to find out the truth behind the disappearance of Anna's father.)

Team Human is about the grey space between the black and white. Each character has his or her own story to tell in relation to the team they play. This is a parody of vampires, but it is also about how one doesn't have to be strictly one team or the other. As Mel learns, it's perfectly fine (and recommended) to follow your own path, but be understanding of others' thoughts and desires. This isn't a book for everyone, but if you appreciate good humor, poking fun at vampires in good fun, and diversity, I'd recommend picking up this book.

Note: One of the most fun parts of this novel, besides Mel's overabundance of sarcasm and humor, was reading the title of the chapter and guessing how it relates to the chapter.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
9 comments on "Review - Team Human"
  1. Team Human sounds like an awesome book. Hehe, the main character is Chinese. Just like me. :D I love how this is a funny book, but broaches the subject of those lovely discriminations. Very thoughtful review, Kris. :)

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    1. Thanks, Julie. I loved this book for the same reasons. It approaches serious subjects with a light atmosphere.

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  2. I loved this book too! Read it a few days ago :) Mel was absolutely hilarious and I really enjoyed the vamps <3 Umm..I really could go on and on about all of the cool things about it but you've pretty much said it all <3 Fabulous review! :)

    P.S. Loved the chapter titles too!!

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  3. I really liked this book too; I've pretty much always been Team Human so I loved that aspect of it as well as the humor, which had me snickering throughout.

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  4. Great review. glad you enjoyed it.

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  5. Wow, this does sound like an unusually diverse books. It's sad that this is so unusual. I do like a good parody.

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    1. I know! I was reading Team Human and thinking about how sad it is that I get excited seeing diversity in a book. It really got me thinking about how small a fraction of books on the market actually cover diversity. This is a good parody, and I would definitely recommend it!

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