by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
Published by Harper Teen
on July 3, 2012
Source: ARC from my collection
My summary: Mel lives in New Whitby, Maine, a town where vampires and humans live in relative peace. Mel's not crazy about vampires, but at least they keep to their own part of town, the Shade quarter. When Francis, the new kid at school, turns out to be one of the undead, Mel's not thrilled. When her best friend Cathy seems to be falling in love with him, Mel's alarmed. And when Mel becomes convinced that there's some kind of sinister explanation behind Francis' sudden appearance, she's determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
My take: Having read Liar by Justine Larbalestier and The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, I was surprised that Team Human was so ... sweet. I was expecting something that tended toward the dark and twisted, but this book is a gently humorous satire of vampire fiction interwoven with an absorbing mystery.
I haven't read tons of vampire fiction, just Twilight, Vampire Academy, and Vampire Diaries, so some of the finer points of the parody may have escaped me. But I chuckled as the new boy in school turned out to be a vampire, and as Cathy and Francis are struck hard by insta-love. Mel is completely appalled by all of this, but also distracted by suspicious goings-on around the school and by an intriguing guy she can't get out of her mind.
The world building in Team Human is clever and interesting and the story uses vampire-human relations to make subtle points about prejudice and tolerance, about mutual respect and freedom of choice. The romance in the book is sweet rather than steamy and the violence level also falls firmly on the PG side -- imagine Mel as a 21st century Nancy Drew, New Whitby as River Heights, and Bess madly in love with a vampire.
I thought Team Human was a refreshingly different take on vampires -- and YA mystery -- that will appeal to vampire fans and non-fans alike.