Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Friends Don’t Let Friends Date Vampires
If you have a love/hate relationship with Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series and a good sense of humor, I predict you will enjoy Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan.

Like the Twilight series, Team Human features a teenaged girl in love with a much older vampire. Unlike the city of Forks, however, New Whitby was founded by vampires. Vampires live in their own part of town called the Shade and work as cops and in other useful professions. The main character, Mel, is determined to keep her best friend Cathy from giving up her humanity so she can become a vampire and spend the rest of eternity with her vampire love Francis.
There are many obvious pokes at Twilight. Upon meeting Francis the vampire the first day of school, Mel reacts: “A vampire who wants to go to high school? That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” The vampire “siblings” who repeat high school over and over in the Twilight series are subjects of derision even by fans of Twilight.
Mel and another friend, Anna, decide to break into the high school and take a look at the vampire’s file, certain they will find out some secrets about him that will end his relationship with their friend Cathy. Anna is frightened; to calm her, Mel suggests, “Pretend it’s an eclipse” (Eclipse is the title of the third book in the Twilight series). When Mel convinces Francis to leave Cathy “for her own good,” Cathy sits depressed in her chair in her room for days (just like Bella in New Moon).
At one point, discussing a celebrity vampire/human couple, one of the characters says, “Their relationship is a stunt for the movie. Almost all celebrity hookups are.” Given the nonstop coverage of the recent Kristin Stewart/Robert Pattinson breakup, this seemed like a particularly prescient observation.
When Cathy goes to find Francis in the vampire neighborhood, the story moves away from satirizing Twilight and finds a plot of its own. Francis’s family has raised a human baby who was left on their doorstep. Now a teenager, Kit doesn’t know what it likes to be human. Something mysterious is going on at the high school, something involving the principal and the husband who left her for a vampire, and Kit and Mel join forces to investigate. Mel finds romance and sees her own prejudices in a fresh light along the way.
Team Human is a quick and enjoyable read, light and funny but touching in spots as well. If you’d like a fresh look at a teenage vampire romance, I recommend it.

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