Thursday, December 05, 2013

Review: Parasite by Mira Grant

Title: Parasite
Author: Mira Grant
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Parasitology #1

Hardcover, 504 pages
Publication: October 29, 2013 by Orbit

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review

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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.

I remember hearing about this book when the author was still in the process of writing it and I thought the premise sounded creepily interesting. Parasite is the first book in a duology by Mira Grant, pseudonym for Seanan McGuire. Parasite is narrated by our protagonist Sally/Sal Mitchell (Sally before accident, Sal after accident). Sal had an accident leaving her brain-dead and on the verge on getting removed from life support when she suddenly wakes up from her coma. It turns out that Sal is only alive because of an engineered tapeworm (yuck) created by SymboGen Corporation. Sal has no memories of her life before waking up from the coma; being forced to learn everything from the start like a toddler (ex. speech).

The year is 2027 and thanks to SymboGen Corporation the majority of the world’s population all has a genetically engineered tapeworm inside of them for protection against sickness and to boost their overall health. The first half of the book was quite slow as the author sets up the world and characters of the novel. Sal has been adjusting to society for 6 years since her coma, and the way she acts and talks is much like a young child. She doesn’t know anything and still has a hard time grasping basic/slang English.  I wasn’t a fan of Sal at the beginning because of her medical condition she did read like a passive adolescent. I also didn’t understand her absolute fear of riding in a car/bus, especially if she has no memory of it (the accident)…I still think its weird and frankly it doesn’t make sense.  Thankfully Sal wasn’t passive the entire time. As the story progresses we see people start showing symptoms of the ‘sleeping sickness’ (kind of like a zombie state, your body is moving but no one is home), and Sal finds herself in the middle of the outbreak, trying to solve the problem and finding out what  SymboGen is hiding.

At the beginning of each chapter there are two short biography snippets from 2/3 SymboGen founders/creators. These little snippets give a more in-depth view of how things came to be. There were also quotes from the characters and short poem/passage from a children book that added another creep factor to the story. Many reviewers said this story is far-fetched and if you know anything about biology/microbiology than hold those thoughts at the door or you’d be angry while reading this book. While the concept does seem out-there, I do think something like this can possibly happen in the future. NOT the whole; having billions of people swallow a tapeworm (disgusting) but if it was a one-time pill/procedure that promised to cure you from all sickness including cancers etc…then I’m sure many people would jump on that bandwagon; or at least those that can afford it. 

Overall I enjoyed Parasite, there wasn’t much action as I would have liked but the story was engaging at least. This is my first time reading a book by the author under the pen name Mira Grant (I’ve read her other series under McGuire) it was different from her fantasy series but still good. The ending of the book was pretty predicable; I think anyone reading the synopsis alone can figure the story out before reading the actual book. The book also ended abruptly which sucks because readers are going to have to wait an entire year to know what happens next. I want to know what's going to happen to all the 'sick' people! Plus the ending takes an interesting turn (not the big revel) but there are more than two groups at play behind everything.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a scifi medical-mystery or horror. Now I’m off to check out Mira’s Newsflesh Trilogy! :)

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