Disturbingly Average: Parasite, Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)

Parasite (Parasitology #1)

Mira Grant

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.

Without me, SymboGen would never have existed. There are probably people who would say that was a good thing, too. I have to admit, there are days when I think it would be a good thing. I might even be willing to give it all back if it meant I still had my friends. But you can’t go home again.
-FROM “KING OF THE WORMS,” AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. STEVEN BANKS, CO-FOUNDER OF SYMBOGEN. ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN ROLLING STONE, FEBRUARY 2027.

After reading so many positive reviews from trusted friends of mine, I have to say that I am quite disappointed with Parasite. (I can’t trust you guys ever again!) It has such an original and disturbing premise — tapeworms that can enhance our bodies? said tapeworms turning restless and wanting to live their own lives? If that doesn’t make you squirm in intrigue, then I don’t know what else will. Mira Grant did a great job with the scientific aspect, but in terms of storytelling, not so much.

Summary: After a car accident that left her brain-dead, Sally Mitchell’s family made the decision to pull the plug — until she suddenly awoke with no memory of her previous life whatsoever. It turns out that SymboGen’s tapeworm was the very thing that gave her a second chance at life, and now, closely monitored by both her family and SymboGen, she tries to lead a normal one. But these tapeworms that have been implanted in nearly every human body are tired of being slaves, and they want their freedom back. It’s only a matter of time before the same happens to Sally and the whole world is plunged into chaos…

I used to think that characterization didn’t really bother me much when it came to reading. The characters could be lousy, but if the plot and story telling was good, I’d be able to enjoy the book. Now that I’ve read so many different books, though, that mindset has completely changed. I’ve become more picky, which is probably why the characterization in this book failed for me. It’s not to say that Sally and Nathan and the rest of the cast were horribly done; rather, I found them too bland and shallow – forgettable. Even Sally, who went through a medical miracle, did not interest me much. I admired her spunk and strong-willingness, sure, but those are stereotypical heroine traits, and I wanted to see a more emotional side of her.

Her parents, though very much present in the story, were also poorly fleshed-out. Truth be told, if they’d died, I wouldn’t have felt very much. I didn’t have a very strong connection with them, or with Joyce and Nathan. Honestly, the only truly interesting character was Dr. Shanti Cale, because I felt that there was more to her person than anyone else. She wasn’t completely good, and she wasn’t fully evil either. I did wish that Grant had given a firmer explanation as to why she was so attached to the tapeworms and the SymboGen project, though.

Scientifically, Grant did a fantastic job! While I may not have understood a lot of the scientific terms used, I managed to get the overall gist of what she was trying to tell us, and everything made perfect sense. Parasite is one book where it is apparent that the author did a lot of research to get everything fitted together right. And even though I’m hardly a lover of tapeworms (or any kind of worm), I found myself surprisingly sympathetic toward them and their fight for freedom.

I wouldn’t really classify Parasite as horror, since there’s nothing particularly frightening about it at all. And sometimes, I even found the book to be dragging on quite a bit — even in the middle. Overall, though, I did enjoy reading Mira Grant’s latest, and the science-fiction nerd in me was amply satisfied, despite figuring out that twist at the end ages before. It still sounds like the Feed trilogy outshines this one, so I will have to give those a go!

Who is this book for?

Science-fiction lovers – real science, with scientific termsthat don’t make sense half the time. Or those looking for a fun horror read.

3.5 stars

BOOK SPECS:
504 pages, e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published October 19, 2013 by Orbit
Purchase: The Book Depository + Amazon

11 thoughts on “Disturbingly Average: Parasite, Mira Grant

  1. Like you I’ve read a lot of positive reviews, so even though the synopsis doesn’t actually appeal to me I’d been thinking I should read it. Let the book surprise me (as they often do when I try a fresh genre). But now I’m not so sure: I do like the sound of Sally’s character, but you seem so emotionally distant in your review and ‘bland’ is not a good word to describe any book! So yeah, probably going to steer clear now as I like character driven narratives.

  2. I’ve read so many rave reviews on this one, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it as much as them, Meg ><
    Haha, I think the science nerds in us would be satisfied though xD I love Science and I always look out for accurate facts in a novel! :) So it's great to see that the writer has done her research!
    But the characterization or lack thereof is rather a bummer :( I always like good characters that I can relate to and that I can feel for…
    I guess this book has its up and downs, but I'm glad it was still a relatively enjoyable read for you! :)
    Fantastic review as always, Meg!! :D

  3. I was actually going to buy this one (I was like THIS close *you can’t see me but imagine I am indicating a very small amount with my thumb and my index finger*) I heard so many good things about Grant so I’m glad to see that she did her research. I recently bought the first book in her Feed series so I hope it turns out to have more relatable characters. I also knew that characterization was an important thing for me and after reading so many books, it’s something I really want to see. I’m glad to see you back and awesome review (as usual)! <3

  4. Oh no! I like the characters, especially Tansy, even though she scared me quite a bit since she was obviously psychotic. I liked how Sal was strong and determined not to let her situation and past rule her current life. I thought the plot was pretty weak though and the plot “twist” at the end was totally predictable.But the idea of the parasites is incredibly creepy and makes my skin crawl.

  5. LE GASP. Will you ever trust me again? :| I really enjoyed this book, can’t get over the fact YOU SYMPATHISED for the worms. EWWWW.

    Great review, Meg! <33

  6. I’ve been hearing so much about this book! Too bad you didn’t like it. Characters, for me, are very important, so I don’t think this is my kind of book. And tapeworms creep me out. This reminds me a little bit of Peeps by Scott Westerfeld…

    I hope your next read is better! :)

  7. Oh once upon a time I was the same. Characterisation wasn’t a make or break factor for me – and it’s so strange realising that now! But I guess the more you read, the higher your standards become. Ignorance really is bliss. I’m quite curious about the scientific aspect of the story, but I’m not sure if I have the energy for the rest now. I was initially planning to read it but it seems to have landed on the maybe pile now. (I hardly ever go near the maybe pile these days – far too much else to read!). Thanks for the helpful review, Meg. :)

  8. I’ve been seeing nothing but praise for this book, so it’s nice to get a different perspective one it :) I haven’t read Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series, but I’m really interested in Parasite. And even if the characters were unforgettable, I don’t think it will affect my enjoyment of the book… much.

    I mean, the scientific aspect sounds AMAZING, which was why I was interested in this book in the first place. So as long as the scientific aspect pleases me, I think Parasite and I will get along well :)

    Great review, Meg! Glad that you’re back!

  9. I’ve been disappointed in the reviews for this one, though I just read two positive ones yesterday that had me rethinking my decision to put it aside. *sigh* now I don’t know what to do. It sounds like it will be good, not great, but I’m used to spectacular with Mira Grant. In any case, you should definitely read the Newsflesh books, they are fan-freaking-tastic. I’d love to know what you think of them. (PS, if you’re busy, they’re fabulous on audio, really amazing narration, so you can do them on your commute :D).

  10. Amazing comprehensive review! Answered everything I was wondering about Parasite. Although I’m still not sure as to whether I should give it a go, on one hand, you said it’s not really horror, which gives me the great light since I’m not fantastic with scary things, but on the other hand, I really invest into characters so characterisation is a definite make or break. So far, the positive reviews I’ve heard are mostly from people who are bigger fans of plot and world building, so I’ve been apprehensive. Thanks for the heads up!

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