Word Spelunking

Team Human - Sarah Rees Brennan, Justine Larbalestier It’s no secret that when it comes to vampires, I’m a picky fan. I like my vamps traditionally vampy: nocturnal, bloodthirsty, fangs out creatures (no sparkling!). And when it comes to Team Human and Team Vampire, I’m ALWAYS on Team Human! So, Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan was the perfect vampish read for me.Mel may live in New Whitby, the vampire city, but that doesn’t mean she’s actually friends with any vampires, or has ever even met one. No, in New Whitby, humans stay in their part of town and vampires stay in theirs and Mel wouldn’t have any other way, thank you very much. But when a hot, centuries old vampire enrolls at her high school and her BFF Cathy falls for him, Mel’s Team Human stance becomes even fiercer. She does everything she can to show Cathy that having a vampire for a boyfriend is not ideal and turning into a vampire is an even worse idea! Mel also gets caught up in a mystery surrounding her other BFF; a mystery involving vampires cops, zombies and heartache. Oh, and then there’s her whole kinda-romance with Kit, a human raised by vampires. Yeah, Mel’ senior year is turning out to be anything but boring.There is definitely no shortage of vampire books in YA, but Team Human is a refreshing, smart and witty take on the cliché. Part satire and part poignant exploration of humanity, the authors have created a shining gem among the mundane. Full of laugh-out-loud, tongue-in-cheek and acerbic humor and social commentary; a suspenseful mystery and a truly awesome heroine, this is one book for vampire lovers and haters alike!This book had me reading into the wee hours of the morning, simply unable to put it down. The authors have impressively weaved together so many facets (humor, mystery, romance, social commentary) into a tight, highly entertaining and well-written story that clicks and flows effortlessly. The humor and satirical aspects are probably what most readers will remember and understandably so: they’re fantastic! The authors have taken so many clichés found in vampire novels (vampire-human insta-love, the adoration of vampires, the superiority of vampires and vampire culture) and inserted them into the story in a way that pokes fun at these devices, while, at the same time, offering thought-provoking exploration why they do and do not work and why they are so popular.The way the students flock to the new hot vampire, Francis, and adore him is over the top in the best way possible. I found it so ironic that Francis is supposed to be so smart and yet, even though he’s over a century old, he’s completely ignorant when it comes to humans. And I love all the wacko-doodle craziness underneath the refined, posh exterior of many of the vampires; it’s such a smart juxtaposition of clichés and the unexpected. But the story isn’t all fun and fangs; the authors subtly explore the explosiveness of prejudice, the consequences of making fast assumptions and the pain of growing up. The authors have also crafted a wonderful heroine with Mel. Mel is such a realistic and relatable character! I love her sarcastic humor, her courage, her unwavering determination to stand her ground, her love for her friends…and did I mention her humor? Because it’s awesome! I love that Mel isn’t afraid to ask the questions that everyone is thinking: Is immortality really worth giving up your humanity? What really makes vampires so appealing? And she has the guts to say what no one else will: Francis is hundreds of years older than Cathy, which is gross NOT hot! (this is one of my biggest pet peeves in YA supernatural novels).And the romance between BellaCathy and EdwardFrancis is intentionally insta-love and cheesy and pretty gag-worthy in the best way possible. The stark differences between Cathy and Edward’s insta-kinda-creepy-love and Mel and Kit’s natural, progression toward organic feelings are fascinating and profound.I was pleasantly surprised to find that the real story within Team Human is dominated more by the mystery Mel is trying to solve and the changing friendships among our young characters than by the vampires and romance. Mel’s investigative journey into the disappearance of a friend’s father is fun and full of twists, while the sometimes fragile relationship between Mel and Cathy is so relatable and realistically depicted.There’s definitely a certain level of predictability to the ending, but I didn’t mind this at all! I must mention how much I liked how the authors organically and effortlessly included young LGBT characters into the mix without making their sexuality define them.FINAL THOUGHTS: This book turned out to be such an unexpected, enjoyable read. The authors have perfectly blended satire, humor, romance and mystery to create a fun, refreshing and often poignant story. Team Human is a delightful MUST read!

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