Peeps (Peeps Series #1)

Peeps (Peeps Series #1)

by Scott Westerfeld


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A year ago, Cal Thompson was a college freshman more interested in meeting girls and partying than in attending biology class. Now, after a fateful encounter with a mysterious woman named Morgan, biology has become, literally, Cal's life.

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. . . .

Bursting with the sharp intelligence and sly humor that are fast becoming his trademark, Scott Westerfeld's novel is an utterly original take on an archetype of horror.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595140838
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 09/07/2006
Series: Peeps Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 334,927
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Scott Westerfeld lives in New York, New York and Sydney, Australia.


An interview with Scott Westerfeld

\ \ What made you decide to write a vampire novel? Was there a particular story or event that sparked your interest?

\ \ Whenever I see a movie with no fantasy elements, I always imagine what it would be like if they threw some vampires in. And in pretty much every case, I think it would be better.

\ \ When it came to writing my own book, M.T. Anderson's Thirsty was a real eye-opener. The kid who's turning into a vamp has such an interesting and different point of view, it made me want to borrow some of Anderson's ideas about what it's like to be . . . thirsty.

\ \ But the real inspiration was the non-fiction research I was doing about parasites and rats. The natural world is so fascinating and icky . . . real life predators and parasites are really much scarier and more disturbing than any vampires in fiction. So I kind of wanted to bring back the icky.

\ \ How much research was required before you could begin writing?

\ \ Not too much before I started-I usually do my research while I write. It's more exciting to be discovering the subject at the same time as your characters. Mostly, I was reading Carl Zimmer's Parasite Rex, which is a book about how a single species of parasite can manipulate an entire ecosystem to support themselves.

\ \ Parasites are like the puppet-masters of biology. Once they get into your head (so to speak) it's easy to see the whole natural world as a bunch of robots doing their bidding. That got me thinking about what it would be like if all of humanity was just a cog in that kind of system, and we didn't even know it . . .

\ \ There is an equal balance of humor and horror in Peeps. Was this difficult to achieve? Was this balance necessary to make the story work?

\ \ I think that horror and humor go together naturally. Comedy is one of the ways that humans let ourselves relax when we're anxious or scared or grossed out, so it's pretty easy to get someone to laugh once you've made them uncomfortable. That's the trick: Start with the scary, then let them off the hook with a joke.

\ \ I've noticed that almost every horror movie has funny moments, and if the filmmakers aren't smart enough to put them in, the audience just decides that the movie is funny (by deciding that it's lame). So rather than have my readers laugh at me, I figured it was a good idea to go for comedy, so they can laugh with me.

\ \ Rats, parasite positives, maggots... there are pages that absolutely make your skin crawl, especially if you live in New York City. As a resident were you freaked out by what you learned about rats?

\ \ As I wrote Peeps, I was also reading Robert Sullivan's book called Rats, which is a history of rats in New York City. I wound up going to some of the spots mentioned in the book, small alleyways that seethe with tiny scurrying forms. That was definitely creepy.

\ \ But the fact of rats doesn't bother me. They've been hanging around humans since Egyptian times (that's why they had cat statues in their temples). And I think it's kind of cool that there's a whole other world under our feet here in this city, with abandoned tunnels and ruins and even buried graveyards. And of course, that world has its own inhabitants who have adapted to it. That's the way nature works.

\ \ But when I moved to New York, I did bring my cat, just so that that world and mine wouldn't, you know, collide too much.

\ \ What adjectives would you use to describe your latest book?

\ \ "Icky." "Intense." "Fast-paced." And whatever adjective describes that feeling you get when someone is talking about bugs, and then you feel imaginary ones on your skin. (Oh, yeah, that's "icky" again.)

\ \ What's on your iPod?

\ \ The Kills, Imogen Heap, King Sunny Ade, Shonen Knife, Dave Brubeck, DJ Shadow, Morcheeba, PM Dawn, PJ Harvey, Jimmy Little, Metric.

\ \ Of course, it's an iShuffle, so next time it might be different.

\ \ What are you reading now?

\ \ I recently finished a non-fiction book, The Emperor of Scent, which is about scientists figuring out how smell works. Much more interesting than it sounds, and very useful for writing. It's hard to describe smells, but if you can, it's a great way to put your reader into a place and mood.

\ \ At this very moment I'm reading page proofs for Magic Lessons, my wife's next book and the sequel to Magic or Madness. Six months ago, I read it as a first draft, but I haven't seen it since. It's changed a lot in all that time, and I'm really enjoying seeing how all those rewrites, edits, and new stuff makes the book stronger and deeper. (Yay, Justine!)

\ \ Next I'll read Dreamhunter, by New Zealander Elizabeth Knox, which everyone says is great.

\ \ What would be if you weren't a writer?

\ \ Probably a game designer. I used to design software for kids, and my favorite part was making up games. Maybe one day I'll take all my money and start a game company.

\ \ Either that or a rock star, of course.

\ \ Have you started working on your next book? Can you give us a sneak peak?

\ \ Right now I'm writing Specials, the last book in the Uglies trilogy. I'm at the point where it's driving me crazy, so no sneak peeks. Well, maybe the first sentence: "The six hoverboards slipped among the trees with the lightning grace of playing cards thrown flat and spinning." I like that sentence.

\ \ The next book I'll be starting on is going to take place in the Peeps universe, but with different characters. It's also set in New York City, but in the music scene. I used to compose music, and I've been wanting to write something about a band for a while.

\ \ Writing about music is like writing about smells: It's hard, but if you can pull it off, it really sets a great mood. Plus, it gives me an excuse to go to some clubs, which will probably be more fun than all those rat-infested alleys.

Customer Reviews

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Peeps (Peeps Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 257 reviews.
troutperson_13 More than 1 year ago
Peeps. Thus far, it is the only work of Vampire Fiction I've been able to find that approaches the phenomenon from a scientific perspective. And really, that's something I'm aching for; in this last decade, where vampires have broken out like a plague and spawned hundreds of thousands of novels (starting out with that-which-shall-not-be-named which features terribly bland heroines and sparkly vampires), and each and every one of them centering around some cobbled-together cheesy romance, there hasn't been the imagination nor the interest in a more realistic view to the blood-suckers. I happen to liken this book to the Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks - giving life and realism to another part of the horror genre. Bringing it down to actual factual possibilities (while, of course, keeping it engrossed in the world of fiction) and branching a story from that starting point. There are only a few problems that I have with Peeps, and none of them are very large; the token female says 'Dude' so much you actually hope you'll get a nickel every time she says it (by the end of the book, you'd be filthy-stinkin' rich); the great big evil at the end is kind of a let down (giant worms, anybody? C'mon.); the whole done-before secret agency (for VAMPIRES. ooh, spooky.);and the main character himself was kinda boring ('what's he like?' 'well, he's from Texas.' 'anything else?' 'not a d**m thing.'). The positives, however, largely outweigh the negatives: the plot is fascinating, the vamparasitic explanations amazingly real, the pace is well-done, style beautiful, wit is just sly enough to be charming. The parasite-filler-chapters are just icing on an already very tasty cake. The way Westerfeld weaves together biology, historic illnesses, and myths dating all the way back to the Egyptians in order to bring his vampires to life is nothing short of astounding. Five out of five, definately a keeper.
willman2121 More than 1 year ago
Peeps was a very interesting book. It takes place in New York City which is the perfect setting due to the fact that rats are a major part of this book. The rats are infected with a parasite which can infect people, and New York City is full of people. Cal, the protagonist goes through a series of problems that he must solve in order to save the human race from being 100% infected. Scott Westerfeld did a great job connecting the problems of the characters to real life dilemmas.
alga More than 1 year ago
I finished this book in about 2 days and it was pretty good. At first its kind of hard to keep up but once you get the hang of it you will love it. It was really interesting and surprising because well here's 2 things about me 1- I hate Science and 2- I hate rats, but this book actually got me interested in Science (rats are another story)! I know weird right, but it is pretty interesting. This gives you a new perpective about vampires (a more believable one). I actually found this a very good book even when at first you know I was disgusted by the details about parasites and skin mites etc. But then you know I found it very interesting and could actually see this happening I mean it's not like I'm entertained by the end of the world or diseases but this made me realize how exposed to disaster our society is. I really recomend this book even when it will gross you out at first but then you understand the cycles explained here and you are actually entertained by the weird situations. I saw lots of similarities with twilight (and I'm not talking about how they're both about vampires)- the inner conflict between Cal and himself is similar to the one Edward has and also how Cal wishes he were normal so he could be good enough for Lacey is how Edward feels about himself. But even non vampire fans will like this one cause it very different from other books (more believable). Makes you think if there really could be a disease like this going around.
PrettyGurrl More than 1 year ago
Peeps is a great fiction book for any reader, especially the vampire fans. Scott Westerfeld does a great job at making a descriptive plot for the readers. He also does a good job of explaining to the readers the history of vampires and the parasite that started it all. Westerfeld has written many great books but this is my favorite. It got me interested in science, in general. Cal Thompson moves to New York for college. Within the first few weeks, he gets infected by a parasite known by many names, one of which is vampirism, if that gives you a clue. Cal is recruited to work for an unknown group of psych specialists, called the Night Watch, which hunt down vampires. In the process of finding and putting an end to Morgan, Cal's infector, he meets a girl that he really likes but can't do anything about, because if he "messes around" with a girl... You'll just have to read it to find out. Westerfeld makes it seem like vampires are real by giving a few scientific explanations for the beginning of the parasite, and he goes all out to explain it in an understandable manner. I think that the book meets the purpose of entertainment, but you would have to read it to find out for yourself. Peeps is a great book for any reader, but mostly vampire fans. Westerfeld is an amazing writer and makes all of his books good ones. I would recommend this book to anyone really. It is mostly directed at ages 12 and up, though. I hope that you will love this book as much as I did. It has an interesting story, and can really get you thinking.
Dieagraph More than 1 year ago
This book is so amazing. It kept me interested the whole way through. Scott Westerfeld has a way of writing so nothing is boring. The chapters about parasites, which I thought would leave me bored, only left me wanting to know more. I only wish he would write a book fully of parasites. Not to say the story its self is not amazing. The characters are very lovable. I love this book.
aznlily95 More than 1 year ago
This book is UNFORGETABLE!!! It makes me laugh cuz I sorta have a thing for freeky, shiver when its like 90 degrees and laugh at the irony tht I find the book funny. PLUS, Westerfeld is one of my favorite arthors and the narrative was INCREDIBLE and sarcastic and funny and real to life and he seems like someone I would LOVE to meet in real life!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I chose the book, Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, because my best friend read it for her English class, and she told me it was very interesting. I also like a few of Scott Westerfeld¿s other books, so I thought I¿d see what this one was about. Peeps is basically about a guy named Cal who was infected with a parasite that makes its host somewhat cannibal-like. Since Cal is only a carrier of the disease he doesn¿t go around killing people, but he has to capture the ones who do. I liked this book because it has humor, keeps the reader interested, and I learned some interesting facts about different parasites.
What I really noticed about Peeps was the structure of its chapters. It was almost like when you watch a movie on TV; there¿s the actual movie and every once in a while it cuts to a commercial. In the book the main story was in segments, and there were brief chapters in between in which Cal, the narrator, tells about some particular parasite. These brief little chapters were good because they tell you things about parasites that you may not have known before, and they can help your mind settle down after a dramatic event in the story. Overall this was a pretty good book and Scott Westerfeld wrote a sequel to it that I have yet to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in science fiction or parasitology, and who would like to have something to read just for the enjoyment of reading.

-Jasmine E.
Mortumi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny and original, I loved Cal's narration, the writing was very good, I liked the descriptions, and the parasite info, while a bit gross, was very interesting.
imperfectionist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Peeps presents vampire in a modern, scientific perspective; parasites are the cause of vampirism, a sexually-transmitted disease. In the even-numbered chapters, Westerfeld presents interesting parasitic facts; obviously, this novel was well-researched. Parasite-positives (peeps for short) are defined as out-of-control, infected, cannibalistic vampires who cannot stand the sight of anything that was once part of their past (also known as an anathema). Cal Thompson, a Peep carrier, is fortunate because Peep carriers do not exhibit all characteristics of a full-blown Peep; however, they can pass down the trait, and they do have superpowers. With the powers gained from this disease, Cal is suitable to be a Peep hunter for the Nightwatch, an organization designed to keep Peeps under control. While trying to track down Morgan, the woman who gave him the parasite, Cal meets Lacey, who becomes his love interest as the story progresses. Cal soon learns that there is something bigger out there lurking in the underground tunnels of New York, and it is up to him and the other Peeps to stop it. Not only was this an educational book, it was an innovative one. Thanks to Westerfeld, vampires actually make sense in the real world. This would have been one of my favorite books, if it weren't for the disappointing ending. Scott Westerfeld needs to work on his endings (such as in The Last Days and So Yesterday); they need to be more dynamic. So, if you're in the mood for humor, action, adventure, and science fiction, this is the book for you.
ToxicMasquerade on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you want to think this is an average vampire book, you're very wrong. I've never read anything like it, which makes it a GREAT book. It also teaches you about a few different parasites. With that said, you might be thinking that this is a disgusting book. Well, I thought that at first too. Then realized that it was very interesting. I don't want to gross you out though. But, the story is interesting, as well as the characters. A great and fast read. I would recommend it to anyone who can deal with reading graphic details about parasites.
irishwasherwoman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moving to New York City to go to school has been quite an eye-opener and life-chaging exprience for Cal, who soon after his arrival becomes infected with a parasite that causes vampirism when he loses his virginity in a one-night stand. Fortunately for Cal he does not develop a full-blown case of the disease. However, as a carrier he has infected others and must learn to control his physical desires. Working for the Night Watch, a super-secret municipal agency responsible for tracking others who have been infected, Cal looks for Morgan, the girl who infected him. Along the way he meets Lace, a journalism student, eager for her first big story. Together they discover that Morgan is the least of their worries. Horrors, long dormant, threaten the City. Will Cal be able to use his superhuman powers resulting from his infection to save New York? The setting combined with a plot made plausable by mixing fantasy with real-life science, along with a somewhat irreverant main character, makes this a fascinating teen read.
tjfranks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting book choice for me. I had some difficulty getting into the story -- not a big Sci Fi fan, plus Westerfeld spent a lot of time describing parasites and what they do to humans and animals. Kind of freaked me out. Plus at the end, he made a point of saying that everything he had described regarding parasites is true. Makes me not want to eat or drink or breathe the air. I have to admit though, I found myself enjoying the story the more I read. It was a fun take on an old topic with some mystery, horror, and romance thrown in.
mana_tominaga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vampirism as disease. Dark, action-packed series - more Buffy than Twilight.
lizzi0915 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very interesting take on the vampire theme. Vampirism is a parasite that spreads from person to person. Cal, who is infected, is a carrier. He harbors the parasite without the symptons. Cal must find those he has infected and the one that infected him. I enjoyed the story, it moved along. I recommend to teens and adults. The only thing I had to get past was the female character's use of the word "dude" at the end of every sentence.
warrior13mm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a novel that has a surprising twist at the end that I did not see coming. The author mixes in factual tidbits of parasite knowledge in every other chapter. These help move the story along. Vampirism is changed in this exciting book. It is a disease that can be passed from person to person. I highly recommend.
ChristinaHarner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been working on this book for weeks. In fact, it was the first book I got out of the Swanton Library after moving here at the end of July, and needless to say, while reading this book I've also managed to finish Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Wings, as well as start Evermore, Maximum Ride, and well, you get the idea. It took a while to get into. So, why did it take so long to finally reach that point where I couldn't put the book down? 1. Every even chapter in the book is non-fiction talks about parasites. Parasites? Yep. Mealworms, lice, tapeworms. They infect your blood, your eyes, your brain, your imune system. And all of it was true. As Scott Westerfeld says many times, "Ew. Yuck. Repeat." Okay, in case that wasn't enough for me to stop reading, why else did I sluff off instead of read? 2. The book is sci-fi, not fantasy. Like Uglies, this book has no "magic" in it whatsoever. Everything is scientifically based. Even the giant worms. That can get a little boring to me sometimes. Especially when the book's theme is explaining vampirism through scientific theories. Yawn. Sleep. Repeat. But, you protest, I DID read this book! In fact, I finished it about 5 minutes ago. So, here's my review: Peeps was written by one of my very favorite authors, Scott Westerfeld. The first half of the book was slow in my opinion. Too much about parasites and vampire history (in a scientific way) and too little about the cute girl, Lace(y), who pops into our narrator's life as he tries to discover what happened to the girl who infected him. I read on and off for a while, enjoying the parasite talk (while imagining all the conversation's Scott had with his poor wife about the subject the year he wrote it), but hating the science. However, once Cal tells Lacey what the heck is going on, things get interesting and I couldn't put the book down at all. Yes, I ate dinner while reading about mealworms. Fun times. But it was amazing! All the parasite talk fit in perfectly with the story so that by the end, huge worms from the underground made perfect sense and only aided in making the story BETTER! Yes, better! I can't tell you what happens to Lace (although, even just from reading this review, you're probably guessing it's a) she's infected and becomes a cannabalistic vampire, b) she runs to New Jersey to escape and lives happily ever after or c) she gets eaten by a giant tapeworm). I know this review is a bit basic, especially since I had to keep mentioning the parasites all the time (did I tell you there are giant worms in this book?), but remember: the book was highly fascinating, finally giving us a logical reason for Vampires and making them believable. (And no, in this book, becoming a Vampire does NOT mean you sparkle. Sorry!) It was funny (laughed out loud many times, as the narrator has my sarcastic sense of humor). It was romantic (despite all the raw meat eating going on). It was interesting (did I mention the giant worms?). And it was really really good. So, thank you Scott, for writing yet another thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi adventure to blow my hatred of the genre right out of the water again. Even if it did include giant worms.
jaseD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brilliant!!!! Creeped out by the parasite info in alternating chapters. These linked well with the 'parasite' of the 'peeps' vampires. Intend to read more Westerfeld.
trinityM82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting take on the idea of vampirism. The even chapters are all about parasites, which is what vampirism is presented as. it takes place in new York City and follows Cal as he hunts down ex-girlfriends whom he infected with his saliva. In the process he uncovers a conspiracy among the Night Watch, whom he works for. The expansion of the humans has woken up the beasties that live underground, which in turn have changed the parasite. Cal finds and falls in love with Lacey, and they navigate this new unknown together. Cal is a super geek, and loves biology and the parasites that have turned him into what he is. There is nothing about the difficulties of living as a carrier of the disease in the relationships with one's family, though plenty about the sexual frustration he experiences as a 20 year old boy incapable of even kissing a girl without giving her a very bad STD.
flemmily on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sci-Fi vampires interspersed with gruesome descriptions of real life parasites. An engaging read.
jwhalen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good fantasy book with vampires- parasite positives, teenagers, and possiblities. Cal Thompson gets infected by the parasite that also infects all his former girlfriends and the chase is on to hunt them down before they create more peeps
maribs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If I had read this as a teen I think I would be a biologist today. Seriously. The science in here, and how it is perfectly presented along with the story, is making me regret not doing better in my college science courses. I love this stuff. Who knew parasites could be so interesting and terrifying at the same time? This is such a great take on vampires. The real science and info on parasites, though, much scarier than the vampires. :)
kpickett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The world is slowly being taken over by a vampiric parasite that lives in humans. There is only one man to stand it its way and he is infected too! Sexuallity mixed with interesting parasitic facts.
xicanti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A young man becomes infected with a carrier strain of a parasite that causes vampirism. He, in turn, has infected all his former girlfriends and must hunt them down.This was a very entertaining book. The characterization was good, the pacing worked well, and the vampirism is nice and unique. I really appreciated Westerfeld's biological take on it. The chapters dealing with parasites were both fun and utterly disgusting. The narrative style was very readable; I found myself hard pressed to put this book down.For most of the ride, I'd have given this a solid four stars, but near the end I started to wish there were a bit more to it all. Westerfeld has invented this wonderfully interesting world, but it felt like he only gave us the bare minimum that we needed to make our way through it. I wanted to know more about the Night Watch and much more about the other carriers. In some ways, his dispensation of information made this book feel more like a very long short story than a novel. The final denouement, in particular, was mostly set up off screen. There were little hints along the way, but I didn't feel that the foreshadowing was nearly as well-developed as it could have been.Still, if you're looking for an entertaining vampire-based read, give this a try. It's definitely good stuff, despite my quibbles.
melissathelibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cal is parasite positive, a ¿peep¿, which is spread through kissing and other sexual contact. The symptoms include superhuman strength, long life, avoidance of sunlight¿ oh, and a craving for human blood. As Cal hunts down the girl who infected him, he struggles against his desire to seduce others and create more peeps. A very good book with a new twist on an old story¿ hard to put it down.
mattsya on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very fun, and very inventive, Westerfield puts a great spin on the vampire legend. The novel is humorous in unexpected ways, the suspense is built naturally and believably. The interlude chapters on parasites are both gruesome and fascinating and provide a great counter point to the main narrative. Well written enough to involve advanced readers, but entertaining enough to appeal to a more reluctant reader.