Published 2007 276 pages
One year ago, Cal Thompson was a college freshman more interested in meeting girls and partying in New York City than in attending his biology classes. 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 and all have turned into the ravening ghouls Cal calls peeps.
The rest of us know them as vampires. And it's Cal's job to hunt them down before they can create even more of their kind....
First things first. For readers in the US, Parasite Positive is published under the title of “Peeps.” So if you’re reading this and thinking, “Hey, that book sounds just like Peeps” it’s because it is Peeps! Now - book identity established, I’ll get on with the review.
Scott Westerfeld has written many novels both for adults and teenagers. Parasite Positive is written for the young adult market but I had to keep reminding myself of this fact as I was reading the novel. Unlike most of the young adult novels that I have read recently Parasite Positive doesn’t feature school or college as the main location and perhaps it is this lack of educational location that makes this novel seem less like a teen read and more like a book for readers of any age.
Parasite Positive is told in first person by nineteen year old Cal, whose whole life revolves around parasite containment since his own unfortunate parasitic infection. He is one of the few rare people who are partially immune to the effects of the parasite. So while he gets the benefits of infection, a fast metabolism, increased life span, night vision and super human strength, he gets none of the bad effects of infection. This is good because the bad effects - such as an intolerance of daylight and a hatred of everything previously loved, followed by madness and cannibalism - are really undesirable. He spends his time working for a mysterious and highly bureaucratic organisation called Night Watch, whose purpose is to contain the spread of the parasite through the use of people with immunity to the parasite and a huge number of multiple page forms.
Cal’s first job for Night Watch is to round up all the women he has had sex or made out with since he was infected. Unknowingly he passed the parasite on to them through his saliva and as none of them had his immunity they went mad and started eating people. You would think this would make for grim reading but thanks to Elvis (you’d have to read the book to understand) the author injects dark humour into even this gruesome task.
Parasite Positive in the sci-fi horror genre and is a novel of two parts. The odd numbered chapters follow the main fictional story and the even numbered chapters tell you more than you ever wanted to know about parasites. The parasites in these chapters are real and depending on where and how you live you can catch them if you are unlucky. Be warned these chapters are not for the squeamish but they do serve to illustrate the science behind the author’s parasite fiction and make the whole parasite positive/vampire story seem even more believable.
Intelligent, fast paced, exciting, darkly humorous and stomach-churningly gross in places Parasite Positive is a highly original novel with a wide appeal. I’d recommend it for both adult and teen readers, vampire and non-vampire fans alike. Check this one out!
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