- Justine Larbalestier (website)
- Sarah Rees Brennan (website)
Release Date: July 1st 2012 by Allen & Unwin
Age Group: Young Adult
You know the story: girl meets boy, boy turns out to be a vampire, girl/vampire romance ensues and girl’s best friend stops at nothing to split them up... hang on. Team Human is a fun, satirical romp in a world where vampires and humans peacefully co-exist, but not everyone believes inter-species romance is quite so romantic...
Mel and Cathy and Anna have passed vampires on the street, and sat near them in cinemas, but they don’t know any. Vampires stick to their own kind, and Mel and her friends hang out with other humans—until a vampire boy in a bizarre sun-proof suit shows up at school and captures Cathy’s heart.
Mel is horrified. Can she convince Cathy that life with a vampire is no life at all? Should she? And then all her assumptions about vampires are turned on their head when she meets Kit, a boy who makes her laugh—a boy with a very unusual family history.
Will Mel’s staunch anti-vampire stance jeopardise her closest friendships? And where does Kit fit in? In the end, who will choose... Team Human?
The Story:Mel Duan is staunchly Team Human. She doesn’t hate vampires, she just doesn’t understand why anyone would want to be one. Risks of dying in the process—or turning into a mindless, rotting zombie then dying—aside, why would anyone want to live a life without laughter, sunshine, and worst of all, chocolate? Needless to say, she’s horrified when her best friend, Cathy, falls for a one. A stuck up, pasty, humourless relic of a bygone era named Francis. She’s even more upset when Cathy announces she’s planning to become a vampire for the chance to share immortality with him—after less than a month. Mel sets out to change her mind. Which shouldn’t be too hard, because she knows Francis is up to something—why else would a supercentenarian seventeen year old boy start going to high school?
But Mel has other worries. Her friend Anna’s mum—their school principal—has been acting strange. Then again, what’s ‘strange’ when your husband, the vampire counsellor, abandons your family to run off with a client. Mel's drowning in drama, and for the first time in her life, may not have the answer to all her friends problems... but Francis’ human ward, a teenage boy named Kit, might.
The 101:Going into Team Human, I expected a light-hearted, satirical look at the earth-shattering, all-encompassing love we all bemoan—yet still adore—in young adult paranormals. I expected to laugh. I didn't expect to cry. But Team Human has heart: at its core, it’s a story about friendship, what it means to be human, and acceptance. It’s a book very aware of what it is—more on that later—but it’s much like a good mediator: it doesn’t take sides, and is able to see all parties’ points of view.
Mel is a truly terrific heroine. Irrepressibly snarky, and unshakably loyal to her friends, she’s bloody minded, determined, and hilarious. Mel’s also tremendously opinionated, but she has a good heart, and always the best of intentions. Her concern for—and unshakeable resolve to 'help'—her friends is part of what makes her so likable, however misguided her actions are at times. Her terror at losing her closest friend to vampirism—afterall, transitions only have an 80% success rate—is palpable, and while Mel can be intolerant, it’s not difficult to see why.
Think of Cathy as your typical, infatuated, desperately in love vampire novel protagonist... on crack. Within a month of meeting Francis, she’s making preparations to transition. Cathy is, in ways, a romantic, taken to fancy, but before you roll your eyes, remember she's viewed through Mel's (very) opinionated lens, and she’s also intelligent, thoughtful, and thorough.
As Team Human progresses, there’s a gradual shift in roles, towards understanding and acceptance. Behind the story’s sparkling humour and vibrant characters is a much deeper message of acceptance and tolerance, one which Larbalestier and Brennan handle with skillful subtlety. Fear not if this is sounding heavy: Team Human is a very funny novel, and Larbalestier and Brennan poke fun at all parties with irreverent glee. Cathy and Mel serve as wonderful counterweights to each other, and this is why Team Human works: it is not a parody, but a humorous look at both ‘Team Human’ and ‘Team Vampire’ stereotypes.