Sparkles are so 80’s: TEAM HUMAN by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Posted 20 July, 2012 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 13 Comments

YA Paranormal Anti-Romance Romance
352 pages, hardcover
Available now (July 2012)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine

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.

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.

Pretty damned funny. Yep. There’s my entire review in a nutshell. *jazz hands*
Yeah, right. (I can’t resist a good ramble about a well-written book!) While at first glance, this story sounds like it might fit squarely in the over-saturated vampire market, it doesn’t. It’s a parody, poking and prodding at the tropes and themes found in a zillion vampire books glutting the shelves. While there are vampires, they’re weird and quirky and have decidedly human traits. While there is insta-love, Mel the main character rails against it, upset that it’s happening to her friend Cathy. Vampires don’t sparkle but to go outside in the daylight, they do suit up in a protective suit that’s “a cross between Darth Vader and an astronaut” –p.2, ARC. (Oh, and double points for the Star Wars reference.)

Mel hates vampires, believing they destroy people. So when her best friend falls in insta-love with Vampire Francis, Mel does everything in her power to convince her to fall out of love with him, that he sucks (both literally and figuratively). Because of her blind hatred and prejudice, she doesn’t see that she’s destroying her friendship every time she rants against him and his people. The interplay between Mel, Francis, Cathy and Kit (Francis’s human “nephew”) keeps the story moving quickly along in the fascinating world Larbalestier and Brennan created. 
It is amazing to me how close-minded and completely sure in her opinions someone who’s only seventeen can be: Cathy proves stubborn in her love for Francis, despite him being so much older than her and a vampire while Mel remains inflexible in her opinions about vampires. One (yes, just one) learns to open her mind to other possibilities. Francis and Kit are pretty intractable in their own ways, too. But a story can’t move forward if no one is willing to change or grow, especially one that features an evolving friendship.
Snort-worthy dialogue, a quick-thinking and witty narrator, non-sparkly vamps who may or may not be the good guys…what’s not to like?

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13 Responses to “Sparkles are so 80’s: TEAM HUMAN by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan”

  1. I have a copy of this and I am excited to read it! I for myself cannot get enough of Vampires and this one sounds hilarious! So happy to see you liked it too – I’m excited to pick it up 🙂

  2. The problem with this book is that I’m Team Vampire. A sexy guy with sharp fangs who wants to suck your blood? Swoon. 🙂

    I do want to read this one. It sounds fab.

  3. This sound really good!
    I’m glad it’s different and more parody than anything else.

    I’m a bit unsure about reading this though ’cause I have never read Sarah Rees Brenna and I couldn’t get into the one Justine L. book I got (How to Ditch Your Fairy, the made up words set my teeth on edge). But this does sound super funny.

    🙂 Thanks for the review 😀

  4. Yay Mary! Wasn’t this such a fun book? I was snorting at Mel the whole way through, especially when she met Kit and they would trade snark back and forth. I love books like this, they’re such a nice break from the darker, heavier reads, and I definitely need a break sometimes, no matter how much I love those dark books!

  5. I definitely need to read this one soon, because I freaking loveeee the sound of it, and reviews have convinced me even more so. Ever since I first heard the synopsis I knew I would love it, because I definitely tend to be Team Human when reading a lot of paranormal books. I should see if my library has this one now that it’s out. =)

  6. *jazz hands* Fun review, Mary.

    I had no clue the vampire market was over saturated. I hadn’t even noticed. But this one does sound pretty funny, especially because of those protective suits the vamps have to wear. LOL

  7. At first glance, I really had no desire to read this one…but THEN the reviews started coming out, and I think I might have to reconsider. I’ve heard the humor is just fantastic! It’d probably be a good read for when I’m in the mood for something funny. 🙂

  8. So, I wasn’t really considering reading this one, but I think you’ve changed my mind. It sounds like it’s such a fun book, and I’m a fan of witty narrator’s 🙂

    Great review!

  9. This book was made of twenty different kinds of awesome. My only problem with it was that, as a major SRB fan, I was inclined to attribute all my favorite parts to her. I couldn’t parse out the narrative styles (which appears to be my phrase of the day), so I half (three-quarters?) forgot there was even another author.