Cal has only been in New York for a year. He was supposed to be studying at college, but now he’s infected. He’s traded school for the Night Watch, an underground organization dedicated to hunting down “peeps” – the parasite positive. Cal doesn’t like to use “the v-word” but in many ways the peeps are like vampires: they don’t like sunlight, they love rats, they’re totally insane, and they’re cannibals. Cal himself is one of the very rare carriers of the disease, meaning that his senses and reaction times are heightened, but he’s remained sane. He can never kiss a girl, however, since his very saliva will turn her into a monster.
Then Cal meets Lace, a mysterious, and very attractive, girl. Suddenly his previous resolve to remain alone and unloved for the rest of his life is extremely hard to follow through on. As if this isn’t hard enough on him, Cal and Lace start to discover disturbing news about the peeps. News with horrifying implications….
The characters in the book were sharply drawn, and often dryly funny. I particularly enjoyed the frequent asides about parasites in general. Author Scott Westerfeld presents facts about real and actual parasites, then lets the reader draw their conclusions about the realism of the book’s featured imaginary parasite. This book is a far cry from the usual mysterious and elegant vampire story, instead featuring peeps who are insane, filthy, and anything but suave. Even the main characters aren’t exactly smooth characters: Cal is a bit of a geek. But that makes the characters, and the story, far more real and, in some ways, far scarier.