Cal was infected by a parasite that has a truly horrifying effect on its host. Cal himself is a carrier, unchanged by the parasite, but he's infected the girlfriends he's had since Morgan. All three have turned into the ravening ghouls Cal calls Peeps. The rest of us know them as vampires. It's Cal's job to hunt them down before they can create more of their kind. . . .
©2005 Scott Westerfeld; (P)2008 Penguin
This is the book for an medical, biology or health nut, but even us regular folks like it. It is for young and old. It is not really a true YA book, but it doesn't have too much romance or violence to keep it from being suitable for the 12 and up scene either.
At first I was "weirded out" by Cal's southern draw in the middle of New York City (urban fantasy), but he grew on me, kinda like a parasite weaving its way through my brain's assumptions about who Cal is and what is to be vampire.
This book is not the typical Twilight, Vampire Academy or House of Night novel (I loved all of them). Instead it is more cerebral and chilling with the whole history of parasites interwoven with a love story and creepy interludes with cat worshiping rats. Truly unique!
I'm going to try the sequel, even though the reviews are not as good.
Finally, a different twist on vampire myths. Westerfeld's vampires are a result of parasites that enter people through the sharing of bodily fluids. Even though this is a fictional parasite, it still provides another caution to teens to have safe sex. Westerfeld also provides us with interesting blurbs about real parasites and their effects on humans and the ecosystem. He used the behaviors of real parasites as a foundation for his fictional one. Then the traditional vampire myths are explained by connecting them with the behaviors of parasite-carrying vampires in the story. So I find this vampire story to lean more toward science fiction than fantasy.
One thing that bothered me was that the complete absence of all parental figures is never explained to the reader. How does a college aged girl disappear for 6 months and her parents aren't looking for her?) Of course, I'm a parent. I doubt that young adult readers will miss them.
There's enough action to keep the vampire fans happy. An added bonus is that the narrator is male, so I think the story will appeal to both boys and girls (unlike Twilight - which is very much a romance and favored by girls in my classes.)
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