It's amazing how quickly nature consumes human places after we turn out backs on them. Life is a hungry thing.Peeps, also known as Parasite Positive, is probably the most original vampire story I’ve ever come across. Cal Thompson, aged nineteen, moves from Texas to New York to major in biology. Shortly after he arrives, he's infected by a sexually transmitted parasite. Fortunately, he discovers that he has natural immunity to this parasite, but it still causes several symptoms: heightened senses, extra strength (not superhuman strength, but as much strength as humans are capable of under extreme stress, all the time), extra speed, an accelerated metabolism, constant hunger and sexual arousal, and sparkling. (Just kidding!)
The parasite, you see, is responsible for the condition we ordinarily think of vampirism. Those who are unfortunate enough to be infected and don’t have Cal’s natural immunity become mindless creatures obsessed with hunting. Cal joins an organization whose mission is to control the infection, and his job is to hunt those infected, the Peeps. Beginning with those he infected himself, like his ex-girlfriends.
What we have in Parasite Positive is an unputdownable sci-fi vampire story. But it’s even more than that. Westerfeld ties in several mythologies, and he does so in a way that is completely consistent, believable and logical. Those infected with the parasite have also been called, throughout human history, werewolves or zombies, just to give you a few examples. And this is explained in a way that makes complete sense.
I won’t tell you everything—it’s more fun to read the book and find out the details—but Westerfeld backs everything up with real science. Cal’s story is alternated with short chapters about real parasites and the fascinating, gruesome, sinister and incredible things they do. I can 't overstate how much I enjoyed these interludes. Not only because they were extremely interesting, which they were, but because they really worked in the book. They were more than knowledge dumpring—they provided a context of sorts for what the parasite does in the story. You can't help but start thinking, "hey, if real parasites do all these freaky things, then this could be real, too." And it really feels like it could.
There were other things I loved about this book: the characters, or most of them. The writing. The great sexual tension between Cal and Morgan. The red-eyed cats. (I'd explain, but it's spoiler-ish. Aren't you curious, though?) The fact that it managed to scare me at times. I'm not at all easy to scare, but some of the underground rat-filled scenes left me very uneasy. The pacing, which was great for most of the story.
Which brings me to my only complaint: the ending felt too rushed, and itwas less than satisfying. When there were 20-30 pages to go, so many things were still unresolved that I started thinking it was going to end with a cliff-hanger, and that I was going to be left shaking until I could get my hands on the sequel. But in those last few chapters everything was resolved a little too fast. And perhaps because of the rush, certain things turned out not to be as mysterious or interesting as I was hoping they'd be. As the rest of the book had made me believe they'd be, really.
But this is an excellent book regardless. It turns out that the sequel, The Last Days, is more of a companion book. It does take place after this one, but it's about different characters. You can bet I'm going to read it anyway, though.
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