Parasite (Parasitology #1)
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.