Peeps takes place in a world much like ours, except not only are vampires real and not supernatural, they’re really just afflicted with a parasite that causes the whole “biting people, sun hating” shebang. Note: They can’t really be killed by sunlight, they just really really hate it. Classified as parasite-positives, or peeps, they’re are hunted and incarcerated by the Night Watch, which operates out of the oldest boroughs of Manhattan.
The Night Watch’s newest hunter is Cal, a 19 year-old geek, transplanted from Texas, and one of the rare few carriers immune to the vampire parasite. He’s got all the super-strength and night-sight without the nasty cannibal tendencies. Unfortunately, he can also never kiss or have sex with another girl, or he’ll pass the parasite on. After a year of hunting down old girlfriends, Cal’s finally found the woman who gave it to him in the first place, and quite possibly something so ancient and sinister, it might threaten mankind as well.
Author Scott Westerfeld may write young adult fiction, but the wit and concepts in this book just blew me away, teen-oriented or not. This is sci-fi by way of Cory Doctorow (also a fan of Westerfeld), where the future is just round the corner, and the science entirely plausible. Every alternate chapter is a short write-up of a different parasite, and never have I been more interested in the worms and bacteria living in my body, feeding in my brain and festering in my food. It’s truly gross, but bloody fascinating.
What really first came to my mind when I was reading this book was how perfect it was. Perfect in the sense of a perfect pop song, the kind where there’s just a basic hook, something so simple and catchy that you know you’ll pick up a guitar and come up with something just as good. Well, this book made me want pick up a pen and write a sci-fi story. And I just might…
It does read like teen drama, with all the requisite crushes and music references, but still makes place for evolutionary discourse and Lovecraftian horror without skipping a beat. Peeps is a fantastic book, and I recommend everyone and their mother to read it.
My next book will be Jemaah Islamiyah: Radical Islam in Indonesia, by Greg Barton.