Review: Parasite

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: ParasiteParasite by Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology #1
Published by Orbit on October 29, 2013
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 512
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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three-stars

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.

Once again, I find myself in the position of having to write a disappointed review of a book by a favorite author. This just is not my year. Expectations certainly are a factor in such an experience. Little can compare to the amount that I love Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Trilogy. As such, odds of Parasite being THAT good were low. Even so, I’m left underwhelmed by Parasite. While I do think it’s a decent novel, it lacks the powerful characters, the dark humor, and the strong plot that made Mira Grant’s first series so unforgettable.

On a surface level, Parasite seems rather similar to Feed, almost as though Parasite tells the story of the outbreak that led to the other novel. Unlike Feed, with its focus on politics, Parasite is full on science. It’s all parasites and body chemistry and things I generally do not understand. Grant explains the science in a way that was easy for me to understand, albeit a bit slow, because so much science. As to the accuracy of the science within, I can’t say, but I was willing to believe it as a fictional construct. I mean, hey, zombie-ish creatures are not the most believable, so I’m willing to suspend a bit of disbelief. So far as making fantastical science fiction read like real science, Grant really excels.

Another aspect of Grant’s fiction that I love endlessly is how positive and open-minded her books are. Sick of books with only white characters? How about gay characters shown only as stereotypes? What about women placed only in marginalized positions? READ MIRA GRANT. There are so many characters of various diverse backgrounds in Parasite, as well as a lesbian couple and a bisexual. None of these characters are defined by the color of their skin or their sexual orientation. It’s truly a thing of beauty. Oh yeah, it’s sex-positive too. Parasite is like an antidote to all the subtle shaming and heteronormativity in fiction.

Sally, or Sal as she prefers to be called, Mitchell is no Georgia Mason. They share a couple of qualities, but Sally’s much less abrasive. She doesn’t like people much, but it’s largely because they don’t understand her or want her to be something she’s not. Sally’s smart, but in a limited way since she only has six years worth of knowledge and memories. While it’s good that she’s her own person, I missed the sarcasm, the sardonic wit, and straight out bitchiness of Georgia. Sal’s naive and a bit on the blah side, to be quite frank.

In fact, that’s my biggest problem with Parasite. There were a couple of scenes where it really clicked, but the characterization just wasn’t there in this one. The villains are villanous, the protagonists are meh, and that’s pretty much it. Sure, I like Nathan and Sal, but there’s not all that much too them. This could be part of Sal’s limited experience and even talented writing, but it didn’t make reading about them for five hundred pages go by quickly. The best characters are definitely Beverly, Sal’s doggy companion who does not die, and Tansy, a legitimately crazy girl but one with definite personality.

The plot’s pretty good, with a couple of scenes that are legitimately creepy. Much of the horror is in a psychological vein, imagining such a scenario and what it would be like to deal with it, rather than overt attacks. There’s no way to know who to trust or how to be safe. If you’re expecting epic twists like in Newsflesh, think again though, because I predicted every single surprise reveal. I suspect this is also due to the heroine, who’s doesn’t have the reasoning yet to put a lot of things together that were obvious to me.

Though this came out quite negative and ranty, I did like it, but I can’t muster any more passion than that, sadly. The rantiest positive reviews are always the ones that let me down. I will definitely be reading the sequel despite my middling response to Parasite. Still, I urge you not to start here. Start with Feed and see Mira Grant at her best. Then, prepare yourself for something less epic and read Parasite.

Favorite Quote:

“Do I feel isolated from her? You bet I do. Lucky bitch died that day, at least as long as her memories stay gone. I’m just the one who has to deal with the paperwork.”

8 responses to “Review: Parasite”

  1. Meg says:

    *sigh* Parasite is definitely no Newsflesh. I’m wrestling with this because while I genuinely liked Parasite, I’m sad that it wasn’t as fabulous and is it fair to rate/review a book through the lens of the author’s previous work? I think if I hadn’t read Newsflesh first I’d be all ‘this book is creepy, fascinating and awesome’ instead of ‘this book is creepy, fascinating and awesome, but…’ I JUST DON’T KNOW.

    On a totally different note, am I the only one left with a desperate desire for some Tansy/Sherman fanfic?

  2. Kayla Beck says:

    I really want to read this, and I haven’t read any Mira Grant. Maybe I will read Parasite first, so if I don’t love it, I’ll have Feed to fall back on. Also, I wonder about something about Sal just from reading your review…
    Kayla Beck recently posted…Audiobook Review: All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle ZevinMy Profile

  3. Bonnie says:

    I felt the same. While I couldn’t come up with anything in my review that I legitimately loved about this, it was still enjoyable and I’ll of course be anxious for the follow-up because clearly Mira Grant is full of magic like that.
    Bonnie recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Best Scary ReadsMy Profile

  4. Aww man. I was looking forward to this one because I love the cover. Am currently reading Feed because of your review of it. So glad I didn’t start with Parasite first!
    Dana (Little Lovely Books) recently posted…Adding to the Stacks #7My Profile

  5. Nara says:

    Tansy was definitely certifiably insane. I feel like it’s all fun when she’s in a book, but if she was a real person, I’d probably avoid her- she seems kinda dangerous haha.

    I actually loved this book- mostly because of all the science. I think most of it was pretty accurate- all the info I actually knew was accurate, at any rate.

    Sounds like I’m going to need to read Feed. If it’s better than Parasite, it must be pretty dang good.
    Nara recently posted…Sci-Fi Month: Introductory PostMy Profile

  6. kara-karina says:

    That’s what worked against this book. All the fans of Mira Grant knew she was capable of so much awesomeness, and Parasite became a major let down when that awesomeness didn’t show up. Like you I felt meh, Christina. Tansy was pretty cool though.
    kara-karina recently posted…The Postman Knock #52My Profile

  7. Dragana M. says:

    I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy Parasite. I haven’t read Feed so I went in without any expectations and ended up enjoying this one. I agree protagonists were a little bit flat but the idea of parasites was so creepy to me and all the science facts made me have nerd-gasm. 🙂
    Dragana M. recently posted…Book Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasMy Profile

  8. Winterborn says:

    I enjoyed the entire newsflesh trilogy, it was hardy amazing but had some solid twists and turns and interesting world building.

    This… eh. I think it’s really hard to enjoy a novel with a big twist ending when it’s clear exactly what is going on in the first forty pages. Oh well, now that said ‘big reveal’ is out of the way the follow up might be free to be good.

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