The Last Days (Peeps Series #2)

The Last Days (Peeps Series #2)

4.0 93
by Scott Westerfeld
     
 

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A mysterious epidemic holds the city in its thrall and the chaos is contagious—black oil spews from fire hydrants, rats have taken over brooklyn, and every day, more people disappear. but all that matters to pearl, Moz, and Zahler is their new band. they ignore the madness around them and join forces with a vampire lead singer and a drummer whose fractured mind… See more details below

Overview

A mysterious epidemic holds the city in its thrall and the chaos is contagious—black oil spews from fire hydrants, rats have taken over brooklyn, and every day, more people disappear. but all that matters to pearl, Moz, and Zahler is their new band. they ignore the madness around them and join forces with a vampire lead singer and a drummer whose fractured mind can glimpse the coming darkness. will their music stave off the end of the world . . . or summon it?

set against the gritty apocalypse that began in Peeps, The Last Days is about five teenagers who find themselves creating the soundtrack for the end of the world.

Editorial Reviews

The dialogue is crisp and clear and alternately funny and biting. (School Library Journal, starred review)
VOYA - Ed Goldberg
Manhattan's streets are rat filled, stacked with uncollected garbage. Moz sees a crowd watching a shrieking girl throwing her prized possessions out her apartment window. Moz and Pearl almost collide attempting to save a 1975 Stratocaster guitar as it falls. Looking up again, they see two humans ("angels" whose significance is addressed later) rappelling down the building, trying to reach the woman. This chance meeting evolves into a band that includes Moz's friend Zahler, Alana Ray, and Pearl's friend Minerva. Minerva has been locked in her room for months, recovering from a "disease" that causes sensitive vision and cravings for raw-including human-meat. Alana Ray can visualize Minerva's vocals as she sings ancient melodies. Three quarters of the novel describes the group's music, merely alluding to a potential apocalypse. The remainder concerns this danger-underground worms feeding on humans, rats and humans spreading disease-and the significance of Alana Ray and Minerva and the band's efforts to save humanity. A sequel to Peeps (Razorbill/Penguin Putnam, 2005/VOYA October 2005), the novel's premise and characters play marginal roles. Readers will be lost without having read Peeps, but they may be lost anyway. The writing is unclear, and the story is mundane. The risk to humankind is muddled, and the ending unimaginative. Suspense is nonexistent. Band members narrate individual chapters to little effect. There is no connection between readers and characters. Recently several better music-themed books have been published as well as better work from Westerfeld. Stick with So Yesterday (Razorbill/Penguin Putnam, 2004/VOYA October 2004) and the Uglies trilogy.\
Children's Literature - Leslie Wolfson
Giant worms that live underground. Millions of rats. A possible epidemic running rampant through New York City. Although this may sound like the plot of a B horror movie, it is actually an imaginative novel about a group of teenagers trying to start a band. The novel begins with a young woman who appears to be losing her mind, throwing all her belongings out the window. One of these items is a rare electric guitar, which is caught by two of the main characters, Pearl and Moz. Rescuing the guitar is serendipity, as both are looking to start a new band. Moz and Pearl round up three more musicians: Kahler, Moz's friend who is a guitarist; Alana Ray, a drummer who "plays" paint buckets on the streets; and Minerva, the lead singer who appears to be turning into a vampire. A sequel to Peeps, this book focuses on the formation of the band, and whether or not they can save the planet from the upcoming apocalypse. Each of the five characters trade off narrating the chapters; their voices are not distinctive enough to differentiate among them without looking at the name of the narrator. This minor inconvenience can be overlooked in favor of the novel's entertaining story.\
KLIATT
Westerfield's tone changes from humorous satire to one more like Apocalypse Now! Giant worms are rumbling up through the subway tunnels and the new, improved vampires are set to fight them. In the meantime, society, especially in NYC, is disintegrating and people are gathering in clusters to protect themselves while garbage piles up in the streets, rats run amok, and water runs black. But wait! Really loud and really good rock music also seems to have a deleterious effect on the worms. Five teenagers--a vampire, a poor little rich girl, a schizophrenic, and two boys--are currently starving musicians in a garret, but they form a band and battle the chaos and teenage hormones because, of course, all the wrong people fall in love with all the wrong people. Westerfield knows how to create a narrative. His plots have action, vivid scenes, snappy dialog, and interesting characterizations. He's got it all...except, he writes about vampires, which may be good news for some and bad news for others. But maybe those who don't care for fantasy/horror can be lured by the notion that the vampires are a metaphor. They certainly aren't boring, and their "disease" actually benefits a more diseased society. All readers can have great fun reading this engaging novel and be swept along into thinking about Large Ideas at the same time. (Sequel to Peeps.). KLIATT Codes: S*--Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students. 2006, Penguin, Razorbill, 289p., $16.99.. Ages 15 to 18.
—Myrna Marler\
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-The names of rock bands are used for chapter titles in this intriguing, fast-paced sequel to Peeps (Penguin, 2005), and music permeates the novel. While mysterious, dark happenings have taken over New York City's hot, humid summer (black water bubbling from faucets and hydrants, and rats congregating in packs on city streets), Moz, an aspiring guitarist, and his closest associate, Zahler, search for promising musicians to complete their sound. One night, as Moz tries to save a vintage 1975 Fender Stratocaster as it is inexplicably thrown out of an apartment window, he meets Pearl, an attractive and slightly off-center musical genius. With the help of Zahler, they recruit a street drummer named Alana Ray, and Pearl convinces her talented singer friend Minerva, who is recuperating from a serious illness that appears to have left her with a strange desire for human blood, to join them. Moz and Pearl work through power issues as they become closer. And as the danger to New York City begins to escalate, the band's evolving music and especially the energized singing of Minerva-both described in great detail-play a central role in calling up the deadly forces and ultimately helping to defeat them. The dialogue is crisp and clear and alternately funny and biting. While it will help to read Peeps first, this novel stands on its own. It's a real winner.-Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
Five new first-person perspectives replace Cal's heated singular voice from Peeps (2005) in this continued thriller about an ancient vampire-spawning parasite and its role in saving civilization. Moz and Zahler, guitarists, are walking down the street when a parasite-positive woman throws an expensive guitar out a window. Moz and a stranger-Pearl-catch it in a blanket, and the three form a band. Pearl recruits Minerva-locked in her room for months because she's parasite-positive, light-phobic and cannibalistic-to sing. Alana Ray, a synesthete who drums on paint buckets in Times Square, adds a brilliant backbeat. New York City is in shambles, with garbage piling up everywhere, peeps multiplying rapidly (some nursed back to sanity, others roaming the streets eating people) and mammoth underground worms breaking through concrete to devour masses of humans. The band's urgent music calls to the worms in an obscure hypnotic language. Less startling and revelatory than Peeps; a broader, lateral look at the same world, with suspense, touches of humor and eminently appealing characters. (Fantasy. YA)\

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440678554
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
08/02/2007
Series:
Peeps Series , #2
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
382,353
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Read an Excerpt

The Fall

I think New York was leaking.

\ It was past midnight and still a hundred degrees. Some kind of city sweat was oozing up through the sidewalk cracks, shimmering with oily rainbows in the streetlights. The garbage piled up outside the restaurants on Indian Row was seeping, leftover curry turning into slurry. The glistening plastic bags would smell jaw-droppingly foul the next morning, but as I walked past that night, they still gave off the perfumes of saffron and freshly thrown-out rice.

\ The people were sweating too-shiny-faced and frizzy-haired, like everyone had just stepped out of a shower. Eyes were glassy, and cell phones dangled limply on wrist straps, softly glowing, spitting occasional fragments of bubblegum songs.

\ I was on my way home from practicing with Zahler. It was way too hot to write anything new, so we'd riffed, plowing through the same four chords a thousand times. After an hour the riff had faded from my ears, like it does when you say the same word over and over till it turns meaningless. Finally, all I could hear was the squeak of Zahler's sweaty fingers on his strings and his amp hissing like a steam-pipe, another music squeezing up through ours.

\ We pretended we were a band warming up onstage, slowly revving the crowd into a frenzy before the lead singer jumps into the spotlights: the World's Longest Intro. But we didn't have a lead singer, so the riff just petered out into rivulets of sweat.

\ \ I sometimes feel it right before something big happens-when I'm about to break a guitar string, or get caught sneaking in, or when my parents are this close to having a monster fight.

\ So just before the TV fell, I looked up.

\ The woman was twenty-something, with fire-engine red hair and raccoon eyes, black makeup streaming down her cheeks. She pushed a television through her third-floor window, an old boxy one, its power cord flailing as it tumbled toward the sidewalk. The TV clipped a fire escape, the deep ringing sound swallowed seconds later by the crash on the pavement twenty feet ahead of me.

\ A spray of shattered glass skittered around my feet, glittering and sharp, tinkling like colliding chandeliers as shards rolled and skidded to a halt. Fragments of streetlight and sky reflected up from them, as if the television had split into a thousand tiny screens, all still working. My own eye stared back at me from a Manhattan-shaped sliver. Wide and awestruck, it blinked.

\ The next thing I did was look straight up. You know, in case everyone was throwing out TVs that night, and I should roll under a parked car. But it was just her-she was letting out long, wordless screams now and throwing out more stuff:

\ Pillows with tasseled edges. Dolls and desk lamps. Books fluttering like crash-landing birds. A jar full of pens and pencils. Two cheap wooden chairs, smashed first against the window frame so they'd fit through. A computer keyboard that sent up a splash of keys and tiny springs. Silverware glittering as it tumbled, ringing on the pavement like a triangle when dinner's ready . . . a whole apartment squeezed out one window. Somebody's life laid bare.

\ And all the while she was shrieking like a beast above us.

\ I looked around at the gathering crowd, most of them getting out late from Indian Row, addled by curry. The rapt expressions on their upturned faces made me jealous. The whole time Zahler and I had jammed, I'd been imagining an audience like this one: flabbergasted and electrified, yanked out of the everyday by their ears and eyeballs. And now this crazy woman, with her rock-star hair and makeup, had them mesmerized. Why bother with riffs and solos and lyrics when all the crowd wanted was an avalanche of screams and smashed Ikea furniture?

\ But once the shock wore off, their rapture faded into something uglier. Soon enough, people were laughing and pointing, a gang of boys shouting, "Jump, jump, jump!" in rhythm. A camera flash popped, catching a satanic flicker in the woman's eyes. A couple of faces glowed with blue cell-phone light-calling the police, or nearby friends to come and join in? I wondered.

\ One of the spectators slipped into the impact zone, running half-crouched to snatch a black dress from under a rain of computer cables and extension cords. She backed away, holding it up to her body as if she'd pulled it off a rack. Another ducked in to snag an armload of magazines.

\ "Hey!" I yelled. I was about to point out that this wasn't exactly Dumpster diving-the woman might want her stuff back after this psychotic meltdown was over-but then the CDs started flying. Glittering projectiles spattered on the street like plastic hail, each one impelled from the window by a shriek.

\ The looters retreated-the woman was aiming now, and the CDs were deadly. I mean, compact discs don't hurt much, but these were still in their cases, giving them extra weight and corners.

\ Then I saw it: the neck of an electric guitar emerging from the window, then the whole instrument-a mid-seventies Fender Stratocaster with gold pickups and whammy bar, a creamy yellow body with a white pick-guard.

\ I took a step forward, holding one hand up. "Wait!"

\ The madwoman glared down at me, mascara smeared across her face like black blood, clutching the Stratocaster to her chest. Her hands found the strings, as if she was about to play, and then she let out one last terrible howl.

\ "No!" I shouted.

\ She let the guitar drop.

\ It spun in the air, delicate tuning hardware glittering in the streetlights. I was already running, tripping on smashed plastic and tangled clothes, thinking that there were four hundred bones in my two hands, wondering how many of them that lacquered hardwood would break after a thirty-foot fall.

\ But I couldn't just let it smash. . . .

\ Then the miracle: the guitar snapped to a halt in midair. Its strap was caught on a corner of the fire escape, where it hung, spinning perilously.

\ I skidded to a halt, looking straight up.

\ "Over here!" someone shouted.

\ I glanced down for a split second: a girl my age, with short black hair and red-framed glasses, yanking something big and flat from under the clutter, sending silverware scattering in all directions.

\ "Watch out," I said, pointing up toward where the Strat was untangling itself. "It's about to fall."

\ "I know! Take the other side!"

\ I glanced back down at her, frowning. The girl was holding two corners of a blanket she'd rescued from the pile. She unfurled its plaid expanse toward me with a flick, as if we were making a bed. I grabbed for the other corners, finally understanding. \ We stepped back from each other, pulling the blanket taut, looking up again. Above us, the guitar spun faster and faster, like a kid unwinding on a swing set.

\ "Be careful," I said. "That's a nineteen seventy-three . . . Um, what I mean is, it's really valuable."

\ "With gold pickups?" she snorted. "Nineteen seventy-five, maybe."

\ I looked down at her.

\ "Incoming!" she yelled.

\ The guitar slipped free, still spinning, hardware glittering, strap flailing. It landed heavy as a dead body between us, almost jerking the blanket from my fists. Its momentum pulled us both forward a few skidding steps, suddenly face to face.

\ But there was no awful thud; the Stratocaster hadn't struck pavement.

\ "We saved it!" Her brown eyes were glowing.

\ I looked down at the guitar, safely swaddled in plaid. "Whoa. We did." \ Then the fire escape rang out again. Both of us flinched as we looked up. But it wasn't more stuff falling-it was a pair of human figures, six stories above, descending toward the crazy woman's window. They weren't climbing down the metal stairs, though-they were practically flying, swinging from handhold to handhold, graceful as headlight shadows slipping across a ceiling.

\ I watched them, awestruck, until the girl next to me shouted two terrifying words:

\ "Toaster oven!"

\ It was tumbling out the window directly over our heads, glass door hanging open, scattering crumbs. . . .

\ We bundled the Stratocaster into its blanket and ran.

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