I've been binging on vampires this spring. In addition to Twilight, which I talked about a while back (and which the folks at Adbooks say is wildly popular), I've finished Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.
Peeps is definitely a good book, with a very engaging nineteen-year-old main character. (I mention the age because I often read books described as YA with twelve-year-old main characters. ????) I think I'd describe it as a conspiracy thriller that just happens to include vampires rather than a straight vampire book. It reminded me a bit of Sweetblood by Pete Hautman, which I talked about back in July of last year. The main character in Sweetblood believes that back before diabetes was recognized and treatable, the symptoms suffered by diabetics led to the vampire legends. In the world of Peeps, vampires are created by parasites. Infected humans are known as "parasite positives" or "peeps."
Our hero, Cal, was infected by a vampire during his first sexual encounter (There's a lesson for you there, kiddies.), but, it turns out, he's a carrier. So while he has a lot of peep characteristics--he's super strong, always hungry, and craves sex--he's not a maniac the way peeps usually are.
The craving sex part actually makes sense. Read the book.
Cal now works for a super-secret organization that's been fighting vampires for centuries. He can never have a sex again so long as he lives because, being a carrier, he'd spread the vampire parasite to his partner. Sounds a little bit like a teen problem novel, doesn't it?
As I was reading--and enjoying--Peeps, though, I wondered what about this book made it a YA novel. Did Cal have to be a teenager? Could Harrison Ford play him in the movie?
I decided the book is YA. Adolescence is a time of transition, and Cal has made a big one. YA books often involve separating from family or finding your identity in the family. Cal is hunting for the woman who infected him, his progenitor, which you could say is sort of a pseudo-parent. Adolescent literature is often about searching for your place in the scheme of things. Now that poor Cal is what he is, just what will his role in life be?
Of course, all of this won't keep Harrison Ford from trying to play Cal in the movie.
Every other chapter in Peeps is a mini-lesson on a parasite. Don't skip them. The ending will make a lot more sense if you've down your homework.
My next vampire book is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which I am finding just a little bit slow.