Kim's Reviews > Peeps

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
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Aug 29, 08

bookshelves: ya
Recommended for: science geeks, those looking for innovative vampire tales
Read in January, 2006

This review will include two sentences I never expected to write in a review, namely:
1. "This book does not contain any sickly sweet marshmallow candy"* and
2. "Ew, ew, ew!"
Does that make you want to keep reading? I hope so, because Scott Westerfeld, who for my money is among the best YA authors writing these days, has created a believable and realistic take on the vampire legend which I don't recommend for the squeamish, and probably not for the romantic, either. There are no spooky castles here, or pretty clothing, or pale aristocratic types with neck fetishes; in fact, this book just might be the anti-Twilight, since its vampires have a lot more in common with people bitten by rabid dogs. There is nothing romantic about vampirism here; it is sexy only in the sense that those infected with it become increasingly horny, and spread the disease through physical contact.
Our narrator, 19 year old Cal Thompson, is a parasite positive, or "Peep" as he calls them, who contracted the disease through a one night stand when he first moved to New York. Peeps are the basis for the vampire legend; although they can not fly or turn into bats, they do cower from sunlight, bite other humans, and possess super-human strength. Cal is a natural carrier, however, which means that he has not turned into a crazed cannibal like most other Peeps, but he can still spread the disease to those he kisses, since the disease is carried through the saliva. He has joined the Night Watch, an organization devoted to hunting Peeps down, and is working on capturing his former girlfriends to whom he has spread the disease.
What I particularly liked about this book was the way Westerfeld attributes aspects of the vampire legend to the need for the vampire parasite to spread. Those infected with the disease (and not immune, as Cal is) come to hate everything they used to love, which makes them leave their homes and thus spread the illness far afield. This anathema, as it is called, explains both the light sensitivity and cruciphobia of the traditional vampires, particularly in medieval Europe. The parasite also infects creatures who feast on the leftovers of the Peeps, so hoards of bats and rats are likely to follow them, a repository for the disease.
If you don't yet get the "ew, ew, ew!" comment with which I began this review, every other chapter in this novel offers true stories about biological parasites, and (thank goodness) there is an afterword explaining how to avoid them. This storytelling device won't work for every reader, but I liked it because it helped to cement the science nerd aspect of Cal's personality, as well as underscoring how vampirism is spread.
I found this a fun read, which entertains while teaching science and will appeal to kids' love of all things "yuck." I think it would be a nice complement to a tenth grade biology class, and might even inspire those struggling with the material. I'm not sure how young I would go with this book, due to the sexual content (it's pretty tame, and non-glamorized, but there), but it's definitely enjoyable for those well out of their teens.

* If you are really jones-ing for cute marshmallow creatures, please Google "Lord of the Peeps." You won't be sorry.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Kathy (new) - added it

Kathy Thanks for the Lord of the Peeps recommendation. That is truly made of awesome(and disgustingly delicious marshmallow goodness).


message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Hee hee, I'd totally forgotten I mentioned that site. I really give the creator props, because Peeps are definitely more adorable than they are tasty!


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