Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Parasite by Mira Grant

Title: Parasite
Author: Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit (Oct 29, 2013)
Hardcover: 512 pages
ISBN: 978-0316218955
Series: Parasitology (Book 1)
Electronic Copy: Provided by the Publisher

"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 Intestinal Bodyguard worm 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."

I recently noticed that Mira Grant's Parasite had been sitting on my NetGalley dashboard for a while. And I knew it had been very well received by the readers therefore I decided it was time to wear my lab coat, safety goggles and rubber gloves to handle this specimen.

Parasite is narrated from the point of view of the main female protagonist Sal (Sally) Mitchell. When Sally was 20 years old she had a seizure while driving. She lost control of her car and drove straight into the path of an incoming bus. The two vehicles collided without slowing down and the impact sent Sally slamming into a nearby wall. After the accident she was pronounced "clinically brain dead". Her parents and sister hoped that she might wake up one day but the damage from the accident had been too great. She was gone. She was not coming back. Or so everybody thought. Thanks to her intestinal bodyguard, Sally (Sal after the accident) woke up with total amnesia, even unable to speak. She was born again.
"I am alive because of a genetically engineered tapeworm. Not a miracle; God was not involved in my survival. They can call it an "implant" or an "Intestinal Bodyguard," with or without that damn trademark, but the fact remains that we're talking about a tapeworm. A big, ugly, blind, parasitic invertebrate that lives in my small intestine, where it naturally secrets a variety of useful chemicals, including - as it turns out - some that both stimulate brain activity and clean toxic byproducts out of blood." 

You see... We think that there are going to be nanorobots controlling many aspects of our bodies in the near future but in Parasite, SymboGen do better than that. They genetically engineer custom tapeworms, SymboGen Intestinal Bodyguards, for each willing patient.
"Without SymboGen, I would have died. I needed to remember that. No matter how much I hated the therapists and the tests and everything else, I owed my life to SymboGen."

Parasite is the first book of Mira Grant's that I've read. Contrary to most bloggers around me I hadn't read her Newsflesh books so I won't be able to compare Parasite with her earlier works. But I can say that I was pleasantly surprised with her prose and her energetic dialogs. Opening of the chapters with descriptions of video footages recorded by various protagonists certainly added to the story and to the general atmosphere of the book. Unfortunately these weren't enough for me to love Parasite. It's such a pity that the plot couldn't be on par with the author's prose.

The story lacked considerable pace, especially at the first half of the book. Twice I thought we were shifting up gears, a third through and halfway through, to be disappointed shortly after. I kept waiting for the action during a story that mostly came across flat.

Furthermore, the plot was unable to convince me. I haven't done any research on it but most of the time, at least about anything that's not instinctive, I would have expected Sal to behave like a 6 year-old. She was far from that. Her speech, her thoughts and especially her analytical capabilities fully reflected her adult age.

I also felt like the profession of Sal's father and sister, and the introduction of a dog were too convenient... too contrived. Dad and sister's working for the San Francisco branch of USAMRIID - the United States of America Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases helped certainly the author in adding some twists to the plot. Introduction of the dog wasn't necessary in my opinion. It was a cheesy move. I would not have been too surprised about it if it were done 30 years ago much more skilfully by King or Koontz. Perhaps the dog has a role to play in future instalments of the series.

Parasite, the first book of Mira Grant's that I've read, was unable to satisfy me. The author's prose makes me certain that I will try another book of hers in the future, truly hoping that she can create better plots.

Overall: 6/10
"Roll the dice but count the cards,
Break the glass but keep the shards."

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