Reviews for Peeps
Booklist Reviews 2005 August #1
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 (both 1997)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. ((Reviewed August 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
Cal's former girlfriend Sarah has become a flesh-eating vampire, a "parasite-positive," or "peep," and Cal is a peep hunter. Westerfeld adroitly intersperses the fictional story with chapters describing actual parasites, their hosts, and the nitty-gritty, often repulsive, details of their existence. A clever blend of adventure, horror, romance, and science text, Peeps holds great appeal for teen readers. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #1
Cal Thompson is not looking forward to seeing his former girlfriend Sarah. He's feeling "nervous -- the usual tension of meeting an ex, with the added bonus of facing a maniacal cannibal." Sarah has become a flesh-eating vampire, a "parasite-positive," or "peep." Cal is a peep hunter, a rare parasite-positive individual who is immune to the typical symptoms of the disease, though he does have his own burden to shoulder: the disease makes him constantly crave sex. As Cal says, this particular trait doesn't make him "wildly different from most other nineteen-year-old guys," with one important exception: if he acts on his impulses, he risks spreading the parasite to his partners. Vowing to remain celibate, Cal has his determination tested by Lace, an attractive new acquaintance who seems oblivious to the danger Cal poses. Westerfeld adroitly intersperses the fictional story with chapters describing actual parasites, their hosts, and the nitty-gritty, often repulsive, details of their existence; his bantering style makes these mini-reports just as intriguing as the larger story. A clever blend of adventure, horror, romance, and science text, Peeps holds great appeal for teen readers. As in So Yesterday (rev. 1/05), Westerfeld exhibits his skill with adolescent dialogue while building credibility with readers through many allusions to popular culture. He manages to strike just the right note, never condescending nor wanna-be-hip -- just cool. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 August #1
Both medical thriller and science fiction, this fast-paced, captivating modern vampire story is enriched with biology and history. Nineteen-year-old Cal is a hunter. He works for the Night Watch, New York City's clandestine organization to capture "peeps," "parasite positive" people infected with an ancient disease that causes vampirism. They're cannibalistic, violent and wildly strong. Cal tracks his line of contagion: an ex-girlfriend, whom he unwittingly infected, and then his progenitor, the girl who gave it to him. Yes, Cal has the parasite, but he's a carrier rather than a full-blown peep. Forced into secrecy and celibacy but possessing peep-like superhuman senses and strength, Cal simmers with adrenaline. He succeeds at his job in the dank, oppressive urban undergrounds, but he discloses secrets to an unauthorized, uninfected girl his age who becomes inextricably involved. Conspiracy issues arise; the parasite's centuries-long history holds a profound revelation. Westerfeld intersperses relevant chapters on how various real-life parasites operate in nature. Entrancing throughout-but squeamish readers beware. (afterword, bibliography) (Science fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 October #1
As with So Yesterday , Westerfeld creates an engaging conspiracy set in New York City, filling his novel with provocative facts, this time about parasites. Right after Cal Thompson moves from Texas to New York for college, he loses his virginity and become infected with the parasite that causes vampirism. Fortunately, Cal is "partly immune," so while he is parasite-positive , or a peep , he only experiences some effects, such as night vision. The 19-year-old works for Night Watch, the city's ancient peep-hunting organization. As Cal begins to track Morgan, the woman who infected him after a drunken one-night stand, he stumbles upon a mystery that eventually makes him question the very organization for which he works. He also finds a love interest in the strong-willed journalism student now living in Morgan's old building, but because of the disease he cannot act on his feelings. While they may have trouble making sense of all the pieces, readers will enjoy the scientific reasoning behind vampirism, and will likely get sucked into the conspiracy with Cal. The book brims with great details (Cal can make himself fake I.D. cards and, like other government workers, spends a lot of his time filling in forms), and he faces off against other victims and encounters plenty of rats. Alternate chapters about parasites provide compelling (and appropriately disgusting) details about their small but powerful world. This is definitely a story to get the brain working. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) [Page 71]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 October
Gr 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 [Page 178]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2005 October
Subterranean Manhattan is a perfect habitat for millions of parasite-hosting rats and feral cats. Morgan, during a one-night stand, infects eighteen-year-old Cal with a parasite. He in turn, infects others. Night Watch, an organization commissioned to control the rat population, recruits Cal, classified as "parasite-positive" or a "peep," to locate and capture his sexual partners. While doing so, he traverses these subterranean areas. Merely a carrier, his symptoms are enhanced senses, strength, and horniness. The effect on ex-girlfriend Sarah is worse. As the story opens, Cal finds Sarah living in darkness among rats, emaciated, at times cannibalistic, and suffering from anathema, hatred of things/people once loved. While searching for Morgan, Cal meets and falls for Lace. It is she who ultimately locates Morgan, who amazingly shows no mental or physical degeneration. Why? How is the disease spread? What role do cats play? Is something worse afoot Parasite and rat images usually trigger cringes and shudders. This novel's cringe factor, after chapter one, is low. Odd-numbered chapters relate the story. Informative, fun, and shiver-invoking are brief even-numbered chapters describing real parasites, their methods of entering hosts, and the results of their stays. Descriptive writing does not compensate for a dense, bland story; a predictable, sequel-signaling conclusion; slow pacing; and sporadic action. The fear factor does not match the book's eerie cover. An afterword outlines "dangerous parasite" avoidance techniques. A short bibliography lists books on rats and parasites. Geared for grades nine and up, this one is not up to Westerfeld standards.-Ed Goldberg Peeps is the perfect book for a predominantly SF-oriented, male audience. For readers of more realistic books, however, it isn't a must-read. Westerfeld creates a likeable character but writes a book from which a reader could easily be distracted instead of enthralled. The even numbered, informational chapters about parasites were boring and created more of a desire to put the book down. The best part was the afterword, which combined the humor of the prose and facts. 3Q 3P-Abbe Goldberg, Teen Reviewer 3Q 2P S Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.