Team Human: Retelling A Vampire Love Story …

… with a twist, obviously.


Mel is horrified when Francis Duvarney, arrogant, gorgeous, and undead, starts at her high school. Mel’s best friend, Cathy, immediately falls for the vampire. Cathy is determined to be with him forever, even if having him turn her could inadvertently make her a zombie.

And Mel is equally determined to prove to her BFF that Francis is no good, braving the city’s vampire district and kissing a cute boy raised by vampires as she searches evidence in this touching and comic novel. – [X]

Ah, I remember it well. The year was 2014 and I had just begun losing hope in vampire stories … and then I discovered this book. (Well, audiobook for me, but I’m sure reading it would be fun too. Julia Whelan is an incredible narrator though. Her voice for Francis cracks me up every time I hear it.) It starts out feeling like a retelling of a certain vampire romance. Mostly because all the players are there: a shy, nerdy, pretty-but-she-doesn’t-know-it human girl who falls in love with a mumbly, patronizing vampire boy/man-child.

And then, there’s Mel. She’s the twist. She’s the one who’s front and centre on the book cover. She’s the one telling the story. It’s a fantastic idea to go off of, especially since the “friend” (yes, I use this term in the loosest sense here) in Certain Vampire Novel has about three lines, proves she’s way more interesting than Certain Protagonist and then is promptly ignored.

In Team Human, however, Mel and Cathy (Certain Protagonist) are best friends. Though Cathy can retreat into herself and her books often, she loves and trusts her best friend, which makes Mel’s position an important and influential one. Apart from the great world-building, the hilarity, complicated friendships, and the not-so-conventional romances, Mel’s character is what really transforms the story from a parodical retelling into a unique adaptation that explores themes like love, friendship, monstrosity, and humanity.

When Cathy decides that she wants to turn into a vampire (risking becoming a zombie if the process goes wrong) for Francis, a boy she’s just met, Mel (understandably) doesn’t get it.

She doesn’t get why anyone would want to be a vampire:

Also, vampires don’t eat food. You never get to eat chocolate again. Ever. I’d rather die … Who would choose the possibilities of immortality over chocolate?

She doesn’t get why anyone would like (let alone love) stuffy, old-fashioned Francis:

I was pretty sure he’d just made it clear that he didn’t think I was a lady. Not that I cared. I mean, it’s the 21st century not the 1800s. We don’t have ladies anymore. And if we did, I still wouldn’t want to be one. I’ve got a lot more interesting things to be.

And thus, takes it upon herself to drag Cathy back to her side: Team Human.

As Mel explores the vampire district, however, her world begins to expand to encompass the complexities and contradictions of real-life. Just as she begins to see how futile it is to categorize people into teams, so too do the readers’ begin to understand characters like Cathy, Kit (the human boy who’d been raised by vampires), and yes, even Francis. Recommended! 🙂