(Cover picture courtesy of Orbit Books.)
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 Intestinal Bodyguard worm 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.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ARC ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
I would have picked up this book for the cover alone, but when I saw it was by Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire I knew I just had to read it. She did write one of my favourite trilogies ever, the Newsflesh Trilogy, after all. But would Parasite live up to my expectations?
It did, but in a way I didn’t expect. There wasn’t exactly the kick-butt awesomeness that made Feed an instant favourite with me, but Parasite channeled that same level of awesome in a different way. The heroine, Sal, is nothing like George from Feed but she is also an amazing character. Having almost died six years ago in a car crash, her parasitic implant from SymboGen saved her life—except that she remembers nothing from her own life and has become a completely different person. Amnesia is difficult to write about in fiction because it’s used quite a bit, but Mira Grant did it in a believable and scientific way: Sal had to relearn everything she knew before, including how to breathe, walk and tie her own shoelaces. Six years later she’s still learning the subtleties of human interaction, helped by her amazing boyfriend Nathan.
This book has been described as a medical thriller and that’s a pretty apt description. There is a lot of scientific jargon in it and so many explanations in typical meticulous Mira Grant fashion. Did I understand all of it? No, science was never my strong point anyway. But did Mira Grant explain it enough that normal people like myself can understand what’s going on? Of course! I’m sure the science in here can appeal to many different people on many different levels, depending upon their interest and knowledge of the subject at hand.
As always, there are incredible plot twists. Some I saw coming from a mile away, others completely threw me off even if looking back on it they made complete sense. The book doesn’t exactly start off with someone poking zombies with a stick, but I certainly wouldn’t call it boring as Mira Grant gradually ratchets up the tension over 500+ pages. Believe me, you won’t be able to put Parasite down. It’s just one of those fantastic books that you won’t put down for anything, including getting a proper night’s rest. If you’re also worried that there’s the old Evil Corporation trope in here, don’t be. If you’ve read Mira Grant’s books before, you’ll know she puts twists on all tropes like that and if you haven’t read her books before, prepare to be wowed.
Three dimensional characters, gross science and a fast-paced plot that throws lots of twists and turns makes Parasite one of my new favourite books. It releases on October 29, so if you haven’t already pre-ordered it, do yourself a favour and go do that now. You won’t regret it.
I give this book 5/5 stars.