Parasite was a really cool science fiction/ bio-medical thriller. As I was reading it reminded me a lot of Orphan Black. You’ve got an evil corporation, bio-technology that can do very good and very bad things, and a lot of mystery. And like Orphan Black this book keeps you on your toes and never dumbs it down.
The book begins with the story of Sally, who nearly dies in a serious car accident, until the parasite implanted in her brings her back. The only problem is that her memory is erased. Not just her childhood memories, but every bit of social development and knowledge as well. She’s an adult who has to relearn to speak and read English, to understand social etiquette, and to get to know her family, who are complete strangers. She’s basically a stranger to herself — she renames herself “Sal” to distinguish between her former and new life.
In a series of articles we learn the back history of how this parasite was developed. It is now implanted in most people – it regulates illnesses and medical conditions like allergies and high cholesterol. People are in the best health they’ve ever been, all thanks to the SymboGen corporation.
Six years after Sally’s accident, she encounters someone with “sleeping sickness”. In other words a conscious person suddenly turns into a zombie with no warning. The sleeping sickness starts to affect more people, and there doesn’t seem to be a cure.
It’s a race to figure out what’s causing the sickness before it spreads to more and more people. SymboGen of course has a big stake in figuring out the cause (or hiding the cause), as does Sally’s sister and father, who are in government intelligence, and her boyfriend, who’s a doctor.
Anything else I tell you will be too much. The book is long but a lot of fun to read – think science fiction meets infectious disease. If you like a good “no one is who they appear to be” kind of novel, you’ll enjoy this one. There’s a lot of science and it’s pretty technical — since I can’t tell you if it’s realistic or not, I just went along with it.
I compared this book to Orphan Black (I would also compare it to Love Minus Eighty) but not for the pacing. This book felt long at times, especially the first third. I think it could have used some editing. If you’re expecting a quick zombie read, you’ll be disappointed. But I like a more detailed, slower-paced read. Also I will say I saw the ending coming, after having a conversation with my husband who had already read the book. But there are plenty of twists and turns in this story and I wasn’t bored.
I’m fascinated by memory issues and language development, so those things alone kept me hooked. Imagine an adult who has to relearn every single thing – the book glosses over this at times but periodically reminds you when the other characters question whether Sal is in fact a functional adult (interesting legal issue as well). I also loved the identity conundrum caused by Sal’s resentment of Sally — her former life.
The thing I didn’t like? This is just one more trilogy I’ve now signed up for. Sigh. I kind of with more people would write stand-alone novels, but that’s just not the way of things.
Mira Grant has one other series, The Newsflesh trilogy, and also writes under the name Seanan McGuire. The second book in this series is expected to be published in November.