Author: Mira Grant (pen name for Seanan McGuire)
Publication Date: October 2013
Number of Pages: 504
Reason for Discovery: I loved Feed, so very, very much.
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.
When I saw Parasite at Barnes and Noble several days before it was supposed to be on the shelves, I had to buy it. This is the first physical, fiction book that I have bought in a long, long time. This was one of those bird in the hand situations. I could start Parasite on Saturday with a hardcover, full-priced book on Saturday, or I could get the kindle version on Tuesday. There really was no question on what I had to do.
In this new duology, most people have a tapeworm living inside of them that protects them from illness. Sal is the poster child for the SymboGen Corporation, because she survived a horrible car accident due to her SymboGen tapeworm. Although Sal is grateful for her tapeworm and that SymboGen is still paying for all of her medical and rehabilitation costs six years later (Sal has no memories prior to the accident and had to relearn how to do everything), she does not completely feel that the corporation doesn't have her best interests in mind. She keeps having the feeling that during one of her biannual visits to SymboGen, they aren't going to let her leave the company's grounds.
Sal versus the ominous Symbogen would have been amazing story on its own; however, Mira Grant knows how to plus a story. Around the time of her biannual SymboGen medical review, people are starting to act a bit strange. People are starting to develop a "sleeping sickness." People appear to zone out and just stare into space. After several cases of this zoning out, the sickness seems to be getting worse. People go from starting into space until violently attacking people. Suddenly, SymboGen, Sal's father who is a medical researcher for the military, and a mysterious third figure all
want to get their hands on Sal for her own protection.
Mira Grant knows how to write a scary, SF story that feels believable. Each chapter begins with snippets from interviews and memoirs from the scientists at SymboGen that made the tapeworm. These snippets sound like something real scientists that have gotten a bit too full of themselves would say. Although the idea of having a tapeworm inside of me sounds crazy, I can believe that people would take a pill with a tapeworm egg, if it meant that they would never get sick again. Mira Grant did a great job describing the scientific horrors of both the zombies and the tapeworms. Besides the science freaking me out, Mira Grant knows how to write scary zombies. There is one particular scene in which Sal is being attacked by the zombies that made me regret staying up late reading the book.
Something that I really like about this book is about how much grey there is. There are a few factions that you can potentially cheer for and that Sal can work with, but none of the factions sound like winners. I really like the fact that Sal is being forced to side with someone who doesn't have her best interests in mind, because, let's be honest, in situations like the zombie apocalypse, no one is going to have your best interests in mind.
I had two critiques for this book. One, I wish that there was a bit more information about the tapeworms and their medical advancements. I just was a tiny bit confused about some of the details like how people ingested the tapeworm. I should note that I zipped through this book, so this information may have been in there, and I just missed it. Two, some of the plot points seemed super obvious. Granted, Sal is supposed to be similar to a six-year old due to her car accident, so she misses out on social graces; however, she did seem adept enough to maybe question certain things. I was just really surprised that particular plot points couldn't have been figured out earlier. What I am hoping is that everyone knew certain plot details and were just acting dumb around Sal.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book with the one exception of my second critique (i.e., people taking a lot more time than normal to figure some stuff out). I have confidence that Mira Grant will allay my concerns in the second book.
I give this book 4 out of 5 kitties.