Author: Mira Grant
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Summary from Goodreads:
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.
We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.
But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.
If the name Mira Grant rings a bell, it may be because I reviewed the three books in her Newsflesh trilogy for you last year. Grant did a great job with zombies, so why wouldn't she do the same with tapeworms, amiright? YAY, ZOMBIES AND TAPEWORMS. I guess you shouldn't proceed in this review if you dislike icky things?
Alrighty, well, the first thing I liked about this book is the scientific detail.
And then, the first thing I kinda disliked about this book is the scientific detail.
(Let's back up.)
If you've read the Newsflesh trilogy, you know that Grant is really, really good at giving her sci-fi villains (in that case, zombies, in this case, tapeworms) a solid scientific foundation. This isn't like The Walking Dead where we just kind of have this virus that's turning people into zombies, and you don't get a lot of detail about it, but you just accept the fact that people are now eating other people and YAY NORMAN REEDUS. Nope, Mira Grant makes sure you know exactly how, biologically, that was possible, and I thought that was a super cool spin on the usual zombie novels that I see.
At first, I was intrigued by her explanation of the whole tapeworm situation in Parasite. Basically, in the not-distant future, a health care company developed these tapeworms as implants to live in everyone's intestines, because the overuse of sterilization and hygienic cleansing caused us to all be getting sick all the time (a true scientific theory even now), and the tapeworms could be used to deliver medicines and other treatments in order to prevent these infections from occurring. Okay, got it, I am on board, I like where this is going.
However, in the last third of the novel, as the action picked up, the science got to be a little TOO much at times. Kind of hard to follow, and more than a little confusing in some parts. Don't get me wrong, I like some guesswork with my plot twists and such, but this started to feel less intriguing and more frustrating after a while. By the end, I think I had a pretty good handle on what was happening, but at some points I do wish the science was dialed down justalittle so that I could sit back and enjoy the action a bit more. I do respect the fact that her scientific detail seemed to be extremely well-researched though. Can't knock that, because it's impressive to see in a fiction novel these days.
Beyond the whole issue of the science--if you liked the Newsflesh trilogy, I think you will enjoy Parasite too. The action moves along at a pretty similar pace, there are lots of unpredictable twists, and the characters all have a bit of that spunky nature that I came to expect from Georgia and Shaun in Newsflesh. I found the protagonist (Sal) to be a little hard to believe at times (she's supposed to be fairly naive because of an accident that she was in 6 years ago, but still manages to be rather cunning when it counts...), but overall it's just a fun cast of characters to dive into.
Final verdict: despite the occasional feelings of confusion that I battled during this book, I'm definitely interested enough in where this is going to be eager for the next installment in the trilogy. I don't feel as completely invested as I did after I read Feed (the first installment of Newsflesh) but you've hooked me, Mira Grant--I'm in for at least one more ride.
Also, special shout-out if you liked my Norman Reedus mention.