Parasite by Mira Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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'm going to first say that this is not my first time reading the words of Mira Grant. I know her by her real name, Seanan McGuire. I'm quite in love with her fun little InCryptid series. I had been thinking about reading her Mira Grant works for a while, and when I was at the library I saw this book. Before I picked it up, I started looking for her Feed books, but didn't find them. So I said, "Why not?" and picked this up.
In Parasite, people have bio-engineered intestinal tapeworms to help them regulate their medications, allergies, and to keep them from getting sick. Six years ago, Sally Mitchel - she now goes by Sal - was in a car accident and declared brain dead, until she woke up the day they were going to pull the plug. She has no memory, and no tapeworm. Now people are starting to cut out and "sleepwalk." Sal is caught in the middle, and she's looking for answers.
My initial reaction was that I thought it was a bit predictable. I totally figured out the end. And then I thought about it some more and realized that I think it was supposed to be that way on purpose. The "big reveal" was really more for the character than the reader, putting this work squarely in the "character focused" category. When I thought about it that way, I was less disappointed. But only just slightly.
You see, I like character studies. I like them a lot, but I didn't find Sal all that compelling. She was pretty boring and average feeling. She was just kind of, meh. I liked the parts where she talked about her love of carnivorous plants and wish there was more of those little quirks to her.
I suggest checking out The Rook for a slightly better done version of a woman waking up with a completely new personality.
Overall, while the science felt a tad iffy, I liked the world building. It was a traditional zombie story meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers, so it feels much different than a group of intrepid survivors band together to... survive. Thank the holy high heavens. I was getting tired of that particular plot.
What I really liked was the theme of science as a double edged blade. It's one of my favorite themes because ethical quandaries can make for great character moments.
I'll probably read the next one when it comes out because I'm the type of person who wants to know what happens. I give it three stars for a bland protagonist, but the writing is good and the premise is interesting. I suggest checking it out if you're looking for "zombie" stories outside the mold.
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