Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Allen & Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978 174237 839 8

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

I read this 350-page book in a little over two days – it’s a hoot. The authors have taken the premise that’s popular of late – a vampire in a high school – and made it palatable. Reasonable. Understandable.

I love the simplicity and sensibility of Team Human’s world, where vampires are a part of life though removed from it, as befits people – they’re definitely people – who do not age, do not eat and do not laugh. Vampirism is regulated, and becoming one carries the risk of death or being left a zombie if the transition fails.

The story follows our first-person narrator Mel – again, Larbalestier eschews a white-washed world, and more credit to her, not just for doing it but for doing it in such an undramatic way – as she seeks to unravel the mystery surrounding the vanishing of her friend’s father.

Also occupying the seventeen-year-old’s time is trying to work out what to do on the career front, and trying to prevent her friend Cathy from dating the handsome vampire who has started attending school, and to work out her feelings for that intriguing boy Kit, raised by vampires.

There’s plenty of snark to keep things lively as the investigation unveils life in a world with vampires on the streets: the groupies, the policing, the prejudices.

Vampires have always been about how we regard the Other, whether truly monstrous or simply different, and the authors offer even-handed treatment here.

The mystery driving the book isn’t earth shattering or world endangering; there is no latex karate, no guns, no all-night blood-fuelled romps, only the very slightest of swooning.

Team Human for the win.