Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Team Human

New Whitby was founded by vampires, but no one ever really sees them. They stay in their shad neighborhood and humans stay in their neighborhood. Many people romanticize them and their existence, but  Mel Duan definitely is not one of them. She was perfectly happy being basically oblivious to vampires' existence until Francis enrolls at her high school. Of course it causes excitement with the students and for some reason Francis has glommed on to her group of friends to hang out with. Cathy, her best friend, seems to have a crush on Francis, but over time it turns into a horrifying and sickeningly sweet romance between the two. Meanwhile, Mel's other friend is freaking out because of the vampire and the fact that her dad ran away with a vampire client. Her mom who is also the principal acts really weird around Francis, leading Mel to believe he is either threatening her or knows something about the missing husband. Then things get so much worse when Cathy and Francis declare their undying love for each other and Cathy wants to turn into a vampire. So it's Mel's responsibility to save her best friend from a lifetime with a creep and figure out her friend's mystery.

Team Human is a brilliant parody of typical vampire novels (like Twilight and other such clones) by two very clever and very awesome YA authors, Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. It addresses questions brought up in those ridiculous, melodramatic vampire romances and goes beyond that to create a realistic story that has something real to say. It seems really ridiculous for a vampire who is over a century old to go back to high school and spend time with people who are over a hundred years younger than him. High school is boring for teenagers and must be a thousand fold more tedious and boring to vampires. Francis' excuse is writing a book about humans and following around various students, peppering them with questions. It's also pretty creepy for a teenager and someone about 10 times her age to be in a relationship together, which is also never addressed anywhere else. This instalove vampire romance is compared with a normal romance between Mel and a boy raised by vampires. Their love story grows out of getting to know each other and basing the relationship on something real.

The very rude voice of reason that brings all of these truths to light is Mel Duan, the best character in this book. For the most part, the vampires' lives are romanticized by everyone around, but Mel exposes the drawbacks and truths about wanting to change into one, namely dying, becoming a zombie and then dying, and losing the ability to laugh and cry if the process is successful. It was nice to see someone in a supernatural novel that wasn't blinded by the beauty and mystery of vampires and never lost sight of the fact that vampires are dangerous and we are their food. Mel isn't perfect. She feels that it's her responsibility to take care of her friends, but also gets super bossy and rude if they disagree. She has their best interests at heart, but she has some growing to do. In the end, she realized that she has to accept her friends and their life decisions even if she doesn't agree with them.

Team Human is a great book that pokes fun at vampire romance tropes while both using them and subverting them. Justine Larbelestier and Sarah Rees Brennan worked wonderfully as a team. What could have been just the poking fun of a bloated and tired genre, they took the opportunity to tell a real story that people can relate to and that actually says something. This one is for vampire lovers and haters alike.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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