From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Vampire stories are a staple of the publishing industry. They are usually romantic and sexy, steeped in a dreamy magic. Peeps
is none of those–well, maybe a little sexy. Nineteen-year-old Cal, a Texas transplant, lost his virginity–and a lot more–when he first arrived in New York City. He became a parasite-positive, or peep–he prefers not to use the v-word. Now he works for the Night Watch, a secret branch of city government dedicated to tracking others of his kind. Unlike the rare natural carriers like Cal, who has acquired night vision, superhuman strength, and a craving for lots of protein, most peeps are insane cannibals lurking in darkness. But now the teen has found the young woman who infected him–and learns that something worse than peeps is threatening the city, and he is on the front lines. Cal's voice is genuine–he's a little geeky, as evidenced by the intermittent discussions on parasites, and he laces a dry humor through this immensely reasonable biological vampire story. The evocation of NYC is exactly right, so that even the most fantastic elements of the plot feel believable. Much of the story is concerned with Cal's detective work and growing relationship with Lace, his Major Revelation Incident (he tells her his secret); toward the end, the action picks up in a race to reveal the horrors to come. This innovative and original vampire story, full of engaging characters and just enough horror without any gore, will appeal to a wide audience.–Karyn N. Silverman, Elizabeth Irwin High School, New York City
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Gr. 9-12. In Westerfeld's latest smart, urbane fantasy, parasite positives, or "peeps," are maniacal cannibals that cause illness. College freshman Cal was lucky: he contracted the sexually transmitted disease during a one-night stand, but it never developed into its full-blown form. Now he works for an underground bureau in Manhattan that tracks down peeps. Apart from the cravings for rare meat and enforced celibacy (turning lovers into monsters is "not an uplifting thing"), life is okay--until a hip, cute journalism student intensifies Cal's yearnings for companionship. Complicating matters are indications that peeps have an urgent evolutionary purpose. Breezy essays on parasitology feel a bit intrusive, and the plot ultimately spirals into B-movie absurdity. But a great many YAs, particularly those who relished M. T. Anderson's Thirsty
and Annette Curtis Klause' Blood and Chocolate
will marvel at Westerfeld's plausible integration of science and legend. Westerfeld's concluding, passionate defense of evolutionary theory will raise some hackles, but the fact that the whole thing is premised on an STD probably preselects an audience that won't take offense. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved