Author: Scott Westerfeld
Genre: YA science fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: After a year of hunting, I finally caught up with Sarah.
Cal Thompson is a peep, a “parasite positive” that is. Otherwise known as a vampire. Only, he’s not a vampire in the paranormal, undead meaning of the word. And he doesn’t exhibit the symptoms that turn most peeps into cannibalistic monsters. He is a carrier of a parasite that is spread through romantic contact – and not just sex. Even kissing can put his partners at risk. And while the parasite has simply given him super-human strength, speed, senses, and longevity, it will turn his partners into human flesh-eating horrors. It’s a very lonely condition to find oneself in.
Because of his unique physical capabilities, Cal is employed by the Night Watch, a secret government entity that seeks out peeps and brings them in, treating them and keeping them away from the rest of human society. Cal has tracked down all of his past girlfriends except the mysterious woman named Morgan, who took his virginity and infected him in the process. When he finds her, he discovers that not all he’s been taught by the Night Watch is the truth. Who can he trust? And what about Lace, the girl he just met and is attracted to? What can he tell her without endangering her life?
I don’t remember who told me I should read Peeps (Megan, was it you?), but I owe that person a big thank you. Peeps is a new take on vampire lore – it’s science fiction, not fantasy. Vampires aren’t undead or paranormal or magical in any way, they are simply the product of a parasite infecting them and changing their body chemistry. I loved all the science in this book; Westerfeld alternates chapters of the story with chapters describing some of the weirder – yet completely real – parasites that live on our planet.
While there is a romantic element to Peeps, it is not a romance novel. It is an action-packed, slyly humorous, science fiction novel with a twist ending that I loved. I was reading Westerfeld’s Behemoth at the same time as Peeps, and I honestly never would have suspected they were written by the same author. He takes on a unique voice for each book or series – something I find amazing. And I also found it refreshing to read a YA science fiction novel that was intended to stand alone – no cliff-hanger, no nail-biting until the next book; just a really fun read.