I picked up this book because it was recommended through the Common Sense Media website. (For their Halloween read column.) In part I wanted to see the degree to which the Common Sense Media recommendations were actually good quality literature. I'm happy to report that I think this book deserves glowing recommendations. It is indeed a of paranormal romance/fantasy book. However, I found the characterizations but nuanced and the plot line intriguing.
The stories set in New Whitby, a vampire/human city founded in the 1800s when a vampire ship landed to establish a community where vampires could be free from persecution and discrimination. It is essentially a city like any of the other but cities in the original Colonies. There are some unique characteristics including antidiscrimination regulations assuring that vampires and humans have equal rights. However, it quickly becomes clear that the vampire and human populations are for the most part mutually exclusive. They do live together peacefully for the most part.
Larbalestier & Brennan have done a masterful job of imagining the complexities of the vampires and humans coexisting. This is not just a YA takeoff on True Blood . It does echo some of the themes that Charlaine Harris has introduced in her Sookie Stackhouse series, however there is clearly enough difference that Team Human avoids imitation. The authors are quite explicit and acknowledgement of the contributions of other vampire literature including Anne Rice, Stephen King, Richelle Mead, Stephanie Meyer, Bram Stoker, Scott Westerfield and a long list of other well-known writers who have also composed in this genre. (In fact they have created a reading list for me.)
Two themes that I find particularly compelling in this book are those of the qualities of true friendship and what true love looks like in practice.