The year is 2027 and the humanity has never been as healthy. All health issues have been erased with the help of one pill, which contains a parasite, specially designed by SymboGen Corporation. This parasite lives in human intestines and cares for its host. There are no negative side effects..that are known yet. Sounds like a great book, right? Well, it really is!
Mira Grant designed a near-future world that seems perfect, but we see it all starts to fall apart. Increasingly more cases of “sleeping sickness” are occurring, where a person just shuts off, goes blank and after a few minutes he becomes aggressive towards other people. There is no cure for this condition.
Parasite is told from point of view of Sally Mitchell, a young woman, who had a car accident a few years ago, but thanks to her parasite she survived. She lost all memories of her life before accident and she had to re-learn everything. Grant did great work characterizing Sal, she was really weird and naive sometimes, but not dumb. Because Sally survived the impossible, she is considered a medical miracle and SymboGen is regularly checking on her, making various tests on her. Sal’s boyfriend Nathan is a parasitologist and her father is in the government, so when weird stuff starts to happen, Sally has a special access to some important information. She finds herself in the middle of things, trying to find out what’s going on while trying to avoid the sleepwalking people trying to kill her.
I liked the main character, Sal, she was funny and weird. Nathan was a perfect boyfriend and I really liked their relationship, but I also liked that there wasn’t much romance in the book. I didn’t like Sally’s family, her parents were very strange and cold at times, like they didn’t care for her. Between characters, there were letters of three scientists who created the tapeworm and founded the SymboGen company. These were really creepy sometimes, saying like “we screwed up big time, and once it starts to show, the whole humanity will go to hell”. I loved reading those and I loved how Mira Grant included them in the book.
There were three or four really scary scenes in the book, but I was a bit disappointed because I was prepared for a full-on horror. I should add here that I’m not easily scared. I thought the author could make this a lot scarier, but she decided to not go down that road and write more like a medical thriller. Still, this book was scary because of how a future like that is totally believable. I honestly believe things like that could actually happen, we people are already meddling with nature so much, this wouldn’t be out of line at all. So after all, it did scare me and I also had a nightmare shortly after reading Parasite starring these parasite-zombies! The only disappointment was the big revelation at the end, which I totally saw coming, and probably most readers will.
This was the first Mira Grant (pseudonym) or Seanan McGuire (author’s real name) book I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last! I can’t wait for book two in Parasitology series, Symbiont! Meanwhile I can read her Newsflesh series, because if it’s anywhere near as good as Parasite, I’m in for a great series. Highly recommended!
*I received this book in exchange for and honest review. Thank you Orbit Books and NetGalley!*