Monday, 9 July 2012

Team Human Review

Team Human, by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier, may be the best vampire novel I have ever read.

Screw 'may'. It is, without a doubt.

First, though, I'll give you guys a quick summary: When a new vampire mysteriously starts going to the local high school, serious, bookish Cathy can't help but fall in love with him. Sounds familiar, right? Except this book is told by Cathy's best friend Mel, who thinks the idea of loving a 200-year-old bloodsucking cold-skinned creature is absolutely puke-worthy. When she realizes that Cathy's affections may be returned, and that, even worse, her best friend is considering joining her undead lover in eternal paleness, she realizes that she has to take action before Cathy gets turned into a vampire... or worse.

First off, the characters. Mel is one of the most lovable protagonists I've read in a while, and I'm pretty affectionate toward fictional characters already. Mel loves to laugh and loves life. She's an athletic seventeen-year-old girl who doesn't have a clue what she wants to do with her life. She loves people. She loves helping people. Even when they don't want help.

Like her best friend, Cathy, who is in love with a vampire. Since this novel is pretty snarky toward the vampire romance genre, you might think that Cathy isn't a sympathetic character. You couldn't be more wrong. Cathy is lovable and sweet and a three-dimensional character. Though she's definitely a romantic soul, she's smart and independent. Not to spoil anything, but the novel makes it clear that Mel's prejudice against vampires isn't necessarily a good thing either.

The girls have two other friends in their group when the novel starts. Anna, another brilliant girl who is firmly on Team Human like Mel- unlike Mel, however, her opinion on vampires is heavily influenced by an event the past summer that I am not going to spoil. There is also Ty, who is clearly sympathetic toward Team Vampire and Cathy's relationship with her vampire boyfriend, Francis. Francis is another character I loved- then again, I loved all the characters- he makes every page he is on even more entertaining, partly because of Mel's obnoxiousness toward him and partly because of his own Victorian charm. Kit is the most adorable guy ever, and Camille the vampire cop is the BEST. I seriously can't even with this cast.

But it's not all a bundle of laughs. Sarah Rees Brennan has said on Tumblr before that she feels that you need to laugh with characters before you can cry with them. Well, you're going to laugh with them plenty, but when this book hits you, it hits you hard. It's not that the book mercilessly kills your favorite characters. You're not crying over them. You're crying with them, crying with them because they're hurting so badly that you can't help it. 

To quote Sarah Rees Brennan: "So Team Human is about saying: 'Give vampires a shot. Give humans a shot. Give zombies a shot. But don't get really within reach of them 'cause they will bite you'."