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Parasite Positives: An Alternative To Those Other Teen Vamps October 7, 2009

Posted by oaklandbookclub in dates, meetings.
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Hello Peeps! I’m back to the blog for this month’s installment of here’s how we’re re-arranging everything we’ve previously decided. For those of you on the email list, this isn’t new information. We’ve changed October’s book from Wicked (too big) to Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps . Until further notice, we’ll be meeting at 7:00 on the third Thursday at the Lemon Grove. This month’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday October 15.


Unless you’ve been living in a cabin in the woods, you know that vampires are the thing now. There is a group of teenage vampires who’ve been getting more than their share of the pop-cultural attention. It’s enough to make you want to quit the genre altogether, but before you do, you must, must, must read Peeps. This young adult novel gives us a fresh take on vampire lore. It’s not at all what you think it will be. In fact, the V word doesn’t even get much play until late in the novel. However, what’s really fun is that we get new explanations for old vampire myths. Garlic, aversion to crucifixes, light sensitivity, blood craving…it’s all in there. Westerfeld uniquely plays with the legends, and the result is delightful.

Westerfeld sets his story in Manhattan and crafts a new world within the city, specifically in the oldest part of the city that was built by the Dutch. The streets don’t even match up with Manhattan’s north/south and east/west grid. The story centers around the sweet Texan, Cal, who loses his virginity in the big city and then some. That one night [stand] results in Cal becoming a parasite carrier, and before he realizes it, he unknowlingly infects his girlfriend Sarah, turning her into a Peep (parasite positive). Cal works for the Night Watch as a hunter, and when we meet his, he is hunting Sarah.

What drives the story, without question, are the characters. The young woman who becomes Cal’s sidekick, the ever-resourceful Lace, doesn’t suffer from the kind of neurosis that too often characterizes the young women of popular y.a. fiction. Even though characters like the shrink and Dr. Rat are less developed, they are at once both recognizable and utterly original. This is a hard balance to strike, but Westerfeld does is with seamless believablity.

Here’s a review from SFF World and another from Strange Horizons.

I hope to see you all next week when we discuss Peeps. I’m just getting started on its sequel, The Last Stand.

If you’re already a Westerfeld fan, his latest novel Leviathan, the first in a new series, came out yesterday.



1. Evan Hamilton - November 29, 2009

Is this group still active?

oaklandbookclub - November 30, 2009

Yessir! We still meet once a month. For November, we partnered with the Ytown Reading Series on Nov. 19. You can email oaklandcenter@gmail.com for info on upcoming meetings. We’d love to have you!

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