Sunday, July 1, 2012

Book Review: "Team Human" by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

Team Human review
Authors: Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
5 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Paranormal Fantasy Reading Level: Young Adult Book Available 7/3/12

Disclosure: I received a free paperback uncorrected proof copy from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: 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

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.

My Thoughts: I have heard from several readers that this is essentially a Twilight parody; it certainly sounded very amusing. Having not read any of the books in the Twilight series, I can’t comment on any common factors. However, Mel and Cathy’s conversations sound very much like the sorts of things I used to discuss with my friends in high school, so that was realistic at least. I also found a lot of parallels with my friends from high school. I was reminded of one of my friends who was very popular, but she had really low self-esteem and kept ending up with these total losers. She wouldn’t give any nice guys the time of day (pretty typical, I guess). My friend also had long, dark hair (although she bleached the heck out of it) and huge, dark eyes, so the parallels run pretty deeply.

There were a couple things that made me roll my eyes. When the rats came running out of the basement, they were described as being mostly grey or brown, but a few white – but she claimed they all had moist, pink eyes.

Dunno if that was supposed to show how she was scared of them or what, but only the white ones would’ve had pink eyes. And they're quite adorable, actually.

Also, I was more than a bit confused by the fact that Mel’s parents only had one car and she seemed convinced she would have to buy herself one when she got old enough, since they are lawyers. Lawyers usually make pretty good money. I’m not saying parents should automatically buy their kid a car, but it seems to be a bit strange that, in their case, they would absolutely refuse to do so. I mean, my parents bought me a car – of course, it was 11-13 years old (can’t remember exactly), at least 3 shades of blue, and only cost $650, but still … my dad is a rancher and it’s not like ranchers make tons of money, you know? At least, not independent ones. Finally, Mel’s reaction to Kit’s name – Kitten – really bothered me. Kitten as a nickname is often given to others as a sign of affection, not because they think of you as their pet! Of course, it is possible that a few of the vampires did think of him that way, but that was no reason for her to be so horribly offended by it.

I have to admit that I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for Mel’s point of view. If someone offered me a chance to become a vampire, especially under the situation in which they live in New Whitby, I would jump all over that, and would have at age 17, too. I know not everyone agrees with that, but hey, what’s the downside? I spent years avoiding the sun anyway, I’d love the chance to live several lifetimes and watch the changes around me, and it would finally give me the chance to know I could actually get through all my books before I die! So, any vampires out there reading this, please do feel free to get in touch!

Obviously, anyone who has read this book will see the parallels with other forms of discrimination. It’s not that it’s right there in your face, though – it’s just that unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll see the similarities in the attitudes of the various people in the book, from Mel’s “I don’t mind them if they’re over there and with their own people” to the coffee shop man’s “monsters,” all levels of discrimination are there. However, the fact that Mel’s sister is a lesbian and one of her best friends turns out to be gay are complete non-issues, which I loved. I also really enjoyed Kit’s character – he was such a kook, just the type of guy I’d have been friends with when I was that age. Despite her attitude toward vampires, I actually quite liked Mel, too – the fact that she cared so deeply about her friends, her sense of humor. It was a great package.

Anyway, despite any eye-rolling moments, despite any unanswered questions, I enjoyed the book. It’s good fare for not only YA readers, but for readers of any age that can read it, I think. Check it out – it’s really a good book.

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