By: Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
Review by: Kaede
Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
Format: Paperback ARC
Source: ARCycling (Thank you, ARCycling!)
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!For Mel, a random, extremely-unnecessarily-ridiculously-overly-proper vampire showing up at her high school is bad enough. But when the extremely-unnecessarily-ridiculously-overly-proper vampire makes her best friend fall head-over-heels in love with hearts in her eyes every time he walks by, Mel won't stand for it. She's determined to save Cathy from making a big mistake. An eternal mistake. (See what I did there? See? See? (; SHUT UP I'M NOT LAME.)
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.
Acclaimed authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan team up to create a witty and poignant story of cool vampires, warm friendships, and the changes that test the bonds of love.
Whether Cathy manages to realize that help and a restraining order on said ridiculously overly proper vampire is exactly what she needs or not, Mel will be there to save the day. And make sure Cathy knows that she's not capable of managing her own life. After all, that's what best friends are for. Right?
Definitely not right.
Sometimes, when it comes down to it, I find that the problem lies not within the story, but with a character. Be it the stereotypical popular mean girl, shy bookworm, or the beauty in disguise, one character, just one character, can be the downfall of your book for me.
Thankfully, it didn't go that far. Mel...well, is Mel, first of all. And while all my problems (all of my one problem, that is) could be found in Mel, she wasn't a bad character. Just a very irritating one. A majority of her behavior through the book can be compared to a best friend constantly whining/arguing about something minor or completely pointless that you don't want to hear about.
You start off trying to be nice. When your best friend, or in this case Mel, starts whining or whatever thing they start doing that annoys you, you don't say anything. Instead, you force a smile and nod in agreement when necessary. You put in effort to refrain from walking the other way every time you see your friend, or putting the book down and throwing it out the window when Mel does something in Mel like fashion.
But then the whining continues, because your friend takes your silence as encouragement. Because you did not tell he/her that they are annoying the hell out of you, and therefore, they think you are interested in what they have to say (or what they have to complain about).
And that's where my analogy of Mel to an annoying friend must part ways. Because while you can easily ignore your best friend's calls with excuses, you can't so easily ignore Mel's glaring presence because She. Is. The. Freaking. Main. Character.
It's been a while since I was this conflicted on a character. On one hand, Mel is everything I wanted when I was reading Twilight. During Twilight, I had to wonder if there was anybody in the book that had a speck of sane logic. Where is the God-sent person that will
And I am semi-not happy with her.
I think if Team Human was told from Cathy's point of view, I would have had a considerable different opinion. But since Mel narrated the story, all throughout, even during scenes meant to be humorous, I got this looming sense of negativity. But my biggest problem was that Mel had this "I-know-best" attitude that in many ways has hurt her closest friends and herself. Her tendency to involve herself in issues that don't concern her rarely gives off a good result, and I was just angry with her a lot. And I mean a lot when I say a lot. However, I did appreciate the fact the Mel cared about Cathy, and didn't want her to make what she thought was an extremely bad decision. Her actions came out of love for her friend, not out of meddlesome spite (although she does have some when it comes to Francis). And, uhm, this is going to be horribly biased but MEL IS ASIAN. And do you know who else is Asian and proud? I'll give you a hint. *points to self* I also appreciated that, oh, I don't know...
How about THAT SHE WAS THE ONLY PERSON NOT COMPLETELY SMITTEN WITH THE OVERLY PROPER VAMPIRE.
But that aside, I really did like the remaining cast of characters. I particularly loved Kit, just because he was so far off from the usual troupe of bad boys. I wished there was more scenes with him, but with what we have, Kit shows an impressive arc of development from a boy who feels he owes everything to his vampire family to a boy who still feels that duty but has a new found will to make his own decisions, even if they're against the wishes of those around him. His relationship with Mel isn't insta-love, but instead takes the time to develop into something that benefits both parties. Both Mel and Kit change slowly after meeting each other and spending time together.
Cathy was also a likable character, but I didn't love her. She was...how do I put it, too Bella Swan, maybe? Too "Ohmygee do you see that hot vampire? HE'S MY SOULMATE AND I LOVE HIM" in a far toned down version. But quite honestly, the girl has more patience than I ever will. She not only rarely gets angry, but understands that Mel doesn't want to hurt her, but instead is just trying to protect her in her own way.
There're a lot of amusing one-liners and fun scenes in Team Human, but it does also incorporate seriousness. Questions that you would only ask yourself alone, questions that make you think, and situations that you wouldn't expect in a standalone meant to be a parody of vampires.
Anna and her father, as well as the surprising twist with Anna's mother, makes up a lot of the emotional-er aspects of the story. It couldn't have been easy for a teenage girl to have to come to terms with a truth like that about her father.
One thing I noticed though, on the synopsis of Team Human, it mentions the setting, a city founded by vampires is where Mel and her friends live. Surprisingly, Team Human doesn't utilize this little detail to it's fullest extent. There could have been so much more reference to this, and if Team Human was really meant to be a vampire parody, there could have been so much down with a city founded by vampires.
I am sounding horribly negative (it must be because of school. SEE WHAT YOU DO TO ME HOMEWORK? ARE YOU PROUD OF YOURSELF? *grumbles*), but I promise you that I did really enjoy Team Human. With it's touch of zombies, feature vampires, and dynamic and diverse cast, Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan collaboration proves to be an extremely entertaining read. I zoomed right through it, finishing it in only a matter of two days, and in a horrible reading slump.
So props to you, dearest authors.
4 coffee cups!
**An advance copy of this book was provided for review. However, all opinions remain honest and my own.**