Cal arrives in New York City as a wide-eyed college freshman, fresh off the turnip truck from Texas, but he grows up fast. A one night stand with a woman named Morgan “something-or-other” (his words, not mine) turns him into a peep.
“Peep” is short for parasite-positive, and Cal much prefers the term to the “V” word. Besides, vampire isn’t the only name for what he is. Different cultures call them vampires, zombies, the undead, and other not-so-nice things.
Scot Westerfeld’s peeps are yet another literary twist in a library full of deviations from the basic bat-like, cross-fearing vampire. Westerfeld explains the old myths, like fear of garlic and crosses, by putting a very reasonable scientific spin on the “illness.”
Fear not, though. Explaining the peeps’ primitive state of cannibalism as an STD caused by mind-controlling
parasites doesn’t rob the creatures of their ferocity. In fact, the alternating chapters where Cal describes the creepy ways real-world parasites take over humans and other animals makes it seem entirely possible that peeps might actually lurk beneath our cities.
While fully infected peeps are real freaks, Cal is one of the lucky ones. His immune system holds the parasites at bay, and he gets off with just superhuman strength and senses, and an intense craving for meat to feed his extra-high metabolism. He doesn’t crave the taste of human flesh, though, and he gets to keep
his sanity. Two big pluses.
He joins the Night Watch to help trap and contain peeps not as lucky as himself, as they try to stem the
infection. Nobody wants this thing to go epidemic. Imagine New York City crawling with vampires.
In his search for Morgan, the woman who infected him, Calfinds Lace. The smart AND beautiful journalism student lives in the building where Morgan used to live, and already has an inkling that there’s something strange going on there. Cal confirms it.
As much as Cal likes Lace, he knows their relationship is doomed. He’s a carrier of the parasite, so all his relationships are doomed – he can’t risk passing the disease to someone else. Still, Lace is nice to have around, and her journalism skills turn out to be pretty helpful for peep tracking.
What a wild ride this book is! Myth and science. Horror and romance. Great characters and great twists! This was my kind of book. I hope it’s yours, but whatever your taste in literature…