Friday, October 24, 2008

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Last week, Shelf Elf pointed out how many vampire books are written for girls. It's true, but my problem with vampire books has been how interchangeable many of them seem. Take a vampire from one book and you could probably plop him or her into another vampire book without making any changes. More than just the pointy teeth or thirst for blood, it's the moody atmosphere, the angst-ridden vampires, and the way they were turned into vampires to begin with. There are exceptions, of course, and of the exceptions, Peeps stands far ahead of the rest, with vampires unlike any I've ever read before.

Meet Cal, who went to New York for a college education but ended up with a lot more. After hooking up with a girl he met at a seedy bar, he became infected with a parasite that he will end up passing on to anyone else he hooks up with.

In a way, Cal is lucky: he’s only a carrier, one of the rare ones, with the enhanced senses and abilities of a parasite positive, or peep, but without any of its other effects, like an aversion to light and craving for blood. Because in Cal’s world, vampirism is an STD caused by a parasite. And he refuses to infect anyone else, which is hard enough when you’re nineteen years old and single, nevermind when you meet a girl you actually want to be with.

Now Cal’s working for the Night Watch, a secret group which has fought vampirism for centuries. He’s tracking down all the girls he inadvertently infected and trying to find the girl who infected him in the first place.

So, like vampire books? Read Peeps. Don’t like vampire books? Read Peeps anyway. It’s a fast-paced, exciting take on vampires by Scott Westerfeld (author of the Uglies series) that will have you on the edge of your seat when you're not squirming with disgust.

Oh, did I not mention all the details about parasites? If you're fascinated by parasites, you're in luck! In each odd-numbered chapter, Cal narrates his story, while relating graphic and often rather gross information about real-life parasites in the even-numbered chapters. The parasite chapters are interesting and don't slow down the story's momentum at all. Combined, these elements plus Westerfeld's storytelling add up to form one creepy story, a vampire book that may actually scare you.


smaileh said...

I highly recommend Peeps (and its sequel The Last Days) to all the kids coming in to my library looking for vampire stories. It is such an original twist to mix science with the traditional supernatural elements. But then, what else would you expect from Westerfeld?

I recently finished Night Road by A. M. Jenkins, which is another good vampire story I would recommend to boys or anyone looking for an original take on vampires.

Little Willow said...

I love this book. It's witty, it's funny, it's informative.