by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan
Mel is horrified when Francis Duvarney, arrogant, gorgeous, and undead, starts at her high school. Mel’s best friend, Cathy, immediately falls for the vampire. Cathy is determined to be with him forever, even if having him turn her could inadvertently make her a zombie.
And Mel is equally determined to prove to her BFF that Francis is no good, braving the city’s vampire district and kissing a cute boy raised by vampires as she searches evidence in this touching and comic novel.
I will admit, I thought I was done with vampire stories. I had stopped reading L.J. Smith, I could not finish the first of the Vampire Academy books, and I had even abandoned watching The Vampire Diaries. However, I loved Sarah’s writing in Unspoken, and was intrigued by the premise of Team Human.
A protagonist who does not/buy into the fascination of vampires?
One of the things I think I enjoy about Sarah’s work is that her protagonist is a Person Of Colour. I rarely find works of young adult fiction with Women Of Colour as the lead focus, and it was a joy when Unspoken gave me that, and even more so with Team Human. These protagonists are not cliches of their race, and are instead simply flawed and real people.
Mel, for example, while a good and loyal friend, is also judgemental and stuck in her ways. She grows throughout the story, learns and revises opinions, makes mistakes. She does not believe herself to be prejudiced, and has her worldview challenged over the course of the narrative.
Mel is a headstrong and wilful character, and there are many times over the course of the story that this works against her, and she unintentionally hurts the people around her – but this is what makes her such a great heroine. She is not perfect, and she knows it. She owns it.
The other characters are equally as layered and multifaceted as Mel is, and I could not decide whether I did not trust the vampires in the story, was intrigued by them, or loved them in all their crazy. Francis was, to me, something of a parody of Edward Cullen, or perhaps the hero Edward could have been. There were hidden layers there, and it is only because it is not his story that I believe they were not revealed.
Kit was fascinating – a human raised by vampires who is only just learning about himself. Seeing there is more to the human world than he has been exposed to the way he is showing Mel there is more to vampires. Cassie, Annie and Ty make up the rest of the main members of the ensemble and they are all different and varied. Perhaps my only gripe is that it seems to be only Mel and Ty who are People Of Colour. And only one of them is fully focused on.
But still, it is an entertaining read, especially with the underlying mystery beneath Mel’s desire to stop Cassie from becoming a vampire on what happened to Annie’s father and what her mother is hiding. A page-turner, with twists I never saw coming.
I see why it has been praised as much as it has.