Thursday, July 7, 2011
author: Scott Westerfield
how I read it: once in print before giving it as a gift (what? I didn't break the spine) and once in ebook form
Cal is a Peep - a parasite positive. He's been infected by a parasite that alters human behaviour. The infected become light sensitive, strong and fast, phobic of the things and people they once loved, sex-starved, and very, very hungry for meat - human or otherwise. Luckily for Cal, he's a rare carrier rather than a full-blown Peep. Yeah, he's hungry and horny, but at least he's still mostly himself.
Peeps is a vampire book, except that there's nothing supernatural about it. This is no love story about a sweet young girl drawn towards a dark, brooding vampire. This is about garbage and rats and instinctive needs and infection and things that rumble deep in the Earth.
Peeps is suspenseful, fast-paced and easy to read. The tension mounts as the rats and garbage gather in the alleyways. There were a few scenes that made my heart pound, particularly when Cal found himself deep underground and close to a primal something that both terrified him and called to him.
Cal's voice - ironic, self-deprecating, funny, kind of nerdy - is strong and believable. Lace (Cal's new lady friend and partner in peep-hunting) is also likeable and funny, although it's a bit hard to believe that a woman in her twenties would preface every sentence with the word "dude".
Westerfield's take on vampirism is original and shockingly plausible, made all the moreso by detailed descriptions of actual existing parasites. This book is not for the squeamish. It hops back and forth between Cal's story and descriptions of parasite life cycles that are almost too graphic at times. (Well, too graphic for some. Personally, I love a good dose of gross.) These parallel parasite stories really creeped me out and helped me sink even more deeply into the story; if a parasite can make an ant climb the highest blade of grass and wait to be eaten by a cow, then who's to say that it couldn't change humans into mindless cannabilistic creatures?
Hey, it could happen.
There's an apocalyptic vibe to the book; you sense that the end is imminent, although the book doesn't fully go there. Peeps is a strong stand-alone book. While there are questions at the end that definitely leave you feeling that there's more to come, this book doesn't end on a cliffhanger designed to force you into buying another book. I love well-written sequals; I don't love being manipulated.
this book made me want to: study parasitology
verdict: I loved it! I highly recommend this book.
sequel: The Last Days