On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants her to 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 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.”
Team Human is a collaborative novel from the pens of authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan (who blogs here), produced as a result of a mutual love of vampires and romance, both of which feature largely within the plot of the aforementioned work. More than this, it is also a tongue in cheek look at the vampire literature genre post Twilight, when the species must automatically be both attractive and sparkly. Not only is account taken of the world-wide spread of Meyer’s work, there are also sly references to the attraction of high school for the undead which are seen within television programmes such as The Vampire Diaries (and L J Smith herself) and a dedication to the works of John Ajvide Lindqvist, Tanya Huff, Stephen King, Bram Stoker and Charlaine Harris, amongst others. It is also a lot of fun, being a self-confessed parody. For Bella and Edward, read Cathy and Francis; without the addition of a Jake character or love triangle. Vampires walk in broad daylight – encased in Hazmat suits.
Starting out as a Team Vampire versus Team Human standoff, Team Human becomes more than this. Mel makes for a spiky, yet plucky heroine, equipped with the ability to produce a quick quip where needed. Cathy demonstrates that her determination to become a vampire is more considered than simply a need to be with Francis for eternity. Ultimately, this ensures Mel is forced to confront her initial pre-conceptions concerning “Team Vampire” and understand the choices made by others – even if these are not the choices which she would make for herself. It is also a narrative about love for others and the nature of friendship, clearly demonstrated by the nature of the changing (yet unchanged) relationship between Mel and Cathy.
Team Human is also a book which centres around the issue of emotion – something highlighted by the fact that, for the purposes of this narrative, vampires are incapable of laughter or crying. Emotional ties are also a central part of the “mystery” sub-plot introduced by Larbalestier and Rees Brennan and form an important aspect of Kit’s (Mel’s love interest) ultimate decision as to whether to become a full member of his “Shade” or to remain human.
Despite being written by two separate authors (or perhaps because of it), the narrative within Team Human flows. Ultimately, what starts out as a mix of parody and satire becomes more than the sum of its parts and holds a certain charm of its own.