Friday, May 3, 2013

Team Human

Team HumanTeam Human by Justine Larbalestier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When her best friend falls for the hot undead guy in their class, Mel desperately tries to keep lovestruck Cathy from becoming a vampire herself - a decision that could be Cathy's last.

How can you not love a book with the tagline "Friends don't let friends date vampires"? For everyone who feels guilty about reading Twilight and its sequels in two days, do yourself a favor and try the Team Human antidote: a story about female friendship, free will, and how being smitten doesn't necessarily mean you've lost your mind or given up who you are.

There are a few stories at work here: that of Cathy and her new boyfriend who is about a century too old for her; Mel's other best friend Anna, who has asked Mel to help her find out more about her father's decision to run away with a vampire; and Mel's own romance with a funny, charming guy who happens to live with vampires. When she meets Kit, who has been raised in a vampire shade, Mel find her prejudices challenged and her own romance developing.

Mel is a little confused about boys, but who doesn't make bad romantic choices in high school? She also has to overcome her anti-vampire prejudices (except thankfully not the reasonable ones, like being nervous around apex predators) and figure out what she wants in her own life, too. She's fiercely loyal and not afraid to speak her mind or act when she thinks her friends are in trouble. In short, she's the anti-Bella: a funny, feminist ABC (American-born Chinese) who cares about her friends and has definite opinions on why it might suck to become a blood-sucking immortal.

Larbalesteir and Rees Brennan take a spoofy idea and weave it into a surprisingly moving story that has a lot of heart.

Larbalesteir has several other books with awesome female protagonists, including Liar, which was recently part of a controversy that had to do with a whitewashed cover (more at her blog. She's also married to fellow author Scott Westerfield, whose sci-fi dystopia Uglies is a best-seller, along with the steampunk Leviathan trilogy.

Sarah Rees Brennan is the author of The Lyburn Legacy trilogy, which begins with Unspoken.

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