Need another vampire tale to get your fix? Try Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.
Did you ever have a crazy boyfriend or girlfriend? I can guarantee Cal has a much bigger problem than you can imagine! Just one kiss turns his girlfriends into Peeps, a.k.a. vampires. Scott Westerfeld has a new take on the traditional undead. His vampires are not supernatural. They are people infected with a disease, much like rabies. Cal hooked up with the wrong person one night, got infected and has been paying for it ever since. Even though Cal is not a vampire himself, he is a carrier of the parasite. He does not have the usual symptoms, you know biting people. No matter what, he has to stay celibate.
Westerfeld has a different answer to some vampire lore:
Traditional: Vampires are undead. They don’t breathe.
Peeps: The parasite stores up oxygen so the peep does not always have to breathe.
Traditional: Vampires drink blood.
Peeps: They bite because they are insane.
Traditional: Vampires are repelled by crosses and religious items.
Peeps: Because they are insane they run from things they used to love. The peep hunters call this anathema.
Cal is now part of a group that tracks down peeps and gets them help. The book opens as Cal is tracking down Sarah, the girl he really loved, hiding in an old ferry terminal in New Jersey. He is armed with posters and music of Elvis. She just loved the king! During the book Cal tries to find the person who infected him. Oh, yeah there is a weird connection to his cat. You will learn more than you ever wanted to know about parasites.
Some ideas for discussion with teens:
1. What would your anathema be if you were a peep?
2. Take another legend and try to make sense of it, just like turning vampirism into a disease instead of magic.
3. You could bring some science in by finding other information about parasites and how to avoid them. There are several rules for avoiding parasites in the back of the book.