Wednesday, November 4, 2009Nineteen year-old Cal's first sexual encounter changed his life forever, and not in the way that you might think. The one night stand left him infected with a parasite that is spread through biting and sex. Now Cal spends his time working for the Night Watch, hunting down the people that he unintentionally infected before being discovered, eating stacks of meat to satisfy his new found appetite, and snapping an elastic band on his wrist to try distract himself from his now ramped up sex drive seeing as he is not allowed to act on it.
All considered though, he could actually be a lot worse off. Cal is just a carrier of the parasite, one of the rare few who do not have their minds warped by the infection and begin munching on human flesh and hating everything they ever loved as a normal person. But Cal won't be satisfied until he finds the infected woman who passed on the parasite to him but in trying to track her down Cal makes a disturbing discovery.
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, of all the Scott Westerfeld books I have read so far and having only just closed it's pages five minutes ago, I think that it is my favourite of his.
Peeps puts a fascinating new twist on vampires. In this book, parasite positives, or peeps for short, are the basis for the vampire legend. They are not vampires as you might normally imagine them to be. Indeed, while reading the book I never really thought of them as vampires as all. Vampires are just what people came up with to try and explain what was happening. Peeps are not suave or aristocratic and instead of specifically needing to drink blood to survive it is flesh that peeps are after. Westerfeld does an excellent job of taking the vampire legend and weaving the old superstitions in to what are really the survival instincts of the parasite. For example, why are rats associated with vampires? Because rats are a major vector for parasites and disease! Peeps hate what they used to love so if a peep used to be religious then, yes, they can be repelled by a cross. Likewise, if your peep used to really love Elvis then some posters of the King and a few of his albums are just what you need.
All of the even numbered chapters contained interesting information about different parasites, going into how they travel from host to host, what their goals are, and what role they play in balancing out nature. But don't fear that you are going to get bored with text book entries, these informative chapters continue in the same perspective as the rest of the book, as though Cal is just casually boosting your knowledge of parasites. Indeed, I felt very "S-M-R-T" smart when while flicking through a health magazine it mentioned one of these parasites and I could say that I knew exactly what they were talking about. Thanks Scott!
Naming the secret organisation that hunts peeps the Night Watch made me wonder if Westerfeld is a fan of Sergei Lukyanenko (and actually I will be reviewing Night Watch sometime in the nearish future,) but more than likely I am guessing that it is just a coincidence.
So, if you are looking for Scott Westerfeld book to try out I definitely suggest that you give this one a go. Peeps doesn't really feel like a vampire book so even if you are not in to vampire stories you may find yourself liking this one. It has a good balance of fiction and science and the story comes together in a great twist at the end.