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TPG Reviews: Parasite, by Mira Grant

January 11, 2014

A good start to a new series

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.

parasite cover

My rating: 7/10

Well, here’s a review I probably should have written a lot sooner. I finished this book over a fortnight ago and so it’s not as fresh in my mind as I’d like; nontheless, I feel it’s fresh enough for a decent review to be written.

I liked Parasite. I liked it quite a lot. It’s essentially a zombie novel, when you get right down to it, but it manages to feel completely and utterly fresh in spite of this. Much of this freshness can be attributed to the main character and narrator, Sally Mitchell. In the novel’s opening, Sally is brought back from the brink of death by her tapeworm following a mysterious car accident. Now going by “Sal”, Sally has no memory of her life before the accident  and has had to re-learn every single facet of life.

Sal’s situation brings with it an inescapable connection to Symbogen, who use her story as publicity for their “Intestinal Bodyguard”. This connection drags Sal into a web of intrigue surrounding the corporation, with people on all sides seeking her for their own ends. Sal narrates all chapters and the aforementioned amnesia really shines through in her narration, making for a fascinating viewpoint.

Several of the novel’s supporting characters are also well done. A special mention in particular goes to Tansy, for…um…reasons.  Saying too much on Tansy would spoil things, but suffice it to say that she is a wonderfully crazy individual with some truly excellent dialogue to match. Any scene with Tansy in it invariably became a highlight of mine, and I imagine this will be the same for a lot of other readers. Nathan, Sally’s love interest, was another favourite: he came off as kind and caring without being depicted as totally perfect, and his romance with Sal was one of the instances where I took a romantic subplot completely seriously.

The plot was engaging, if a little slow to get started, and there were no points where reading actually became an effort. The science, meanwhile, was believable at a glance; I assume a biologist could make short work it, but personally I had no problem suspending my disbelief. All things considered, things were pretty good.

Unfortunately, this book has two main problems that keep it from being truly ground-breaking. Sal’s family, first of all, seemed rather flat to me. They didn’t appear in that many scenes and, when they did, there were times when it felt like they were reading from a script. This made one scene in particular a lot less impactful than was probably intended. The second problem is the ending: it resolves nothing and then ends on a “twist” that was painfully obvious from about one chapter in. Said twist is actually pretty interesting, and I look forward to seeing how it gets used in the sequels, but…it’s just so obvious, and so made for a rather anticlimatic final scene.

All in all, Parasite is well worth your time. It gets a little slow at points, sure, but for much of its length I had a great time with it. I will be sure to pick up the sequel, and could well end up reading some of this author’s other books in the meantime.

Have you read Parasite or are planning to read it? Read any other books by this author? Read anything at all that’s good, lately? Post your thoughts down below 😀

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4 Comments
  1. SarahClare permalink

    I am planning to read this book. I really like the concept, and I’m interested to see how the ‘zombie’ theme can be reinvented. Because you’re right, it’s essentially a zombie book. It reminds me a little of Resident Evil, in how it seems more scientific than paranormal.

    Great review! 🙂

    • Hope you enjoy :). RE actually makes for a surprisingly good comparison, now that I think of it, though I can see the situation in Parasite becoming a lot more less clear-cut than it is in Resi.

      I notice you run a book blog; I assume you plan to review this later on? If so, looking forward to it!

      • SarahClare permalink

        Ha ha! Yes! When I actually get to it. My ‘to be read’ list is mahoosive..

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