Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: Parasite (Parasitology, #1)

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)Author: Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology, #1
Released: November 5th 2013
Publisher: Orbit
Paperback, 512 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

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.
The first thing you need to know about Parasite is that it is not Feed. If you expect the emotional impact of Seanan McGuire’s debut as Mira Grant, you will be sorely disappointed. Feed is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of book and it’s unlikely that Seanan will ever repeat it.

The second thing you need to know about Parasite is that it’s brilliant nevertheless. This is Mira Grant after all, so if sci-fi medical thrillers are your thing, very few authors write it better than she does. For me, the point of these medical thrillers is to convince the reader that what they describe is possible. The amount of research Grant puts into her books and the way she presents her “facts” pretty much guarantee that her visions of the apocalypse will be accepted as probabilities.

In many ways, for me, reading Parasite was similar to what I imagine an out of body experience would be like. It was virtually impossible to read a book written by the same author and similarly structured as my favorite book in the world and not make constant comparisons. However, while it quickly became clear that Sal is no Georgia Mason, it also became clear that I was going to like her for who she was. Sal cowers occasionally, she tends to scream at most unfortunate moments and she even faints here and there (I simply can’t imagine George fainting or screaming), but she has a backbone of steel that becomes evident when it’s most needed.

Is it just me or should allowing tapeworms to grow in your stomach be frowned upon in normal society? Even if those tapeworms are in many ways beneficial? On the other hand, when I stop to think about it, who said that the words ‘normal society’ apply to us? And just how far can our boundaries be pushed, with the right marketing campaign?
There were reports, but they were all proven to be false, and gradually, the ad campaign was phased out, leaving the world sold not once, but twice, on the idea that a worm was a solution to all their problems.

Oddly, the reason for sparks of disbelief that occasionally ignited within me had nothing to do with the medical part of this book and everything to do with the people around Sal. It seemed all too convenient that such a medical miracle would happen to the daughter of a Colonel at USAMRIID, in charge of figuring out the sleepwalking sickness. It was even more convenient that she ended up dating a parasitologist like Nathan, with his family background. While Grant did her best to explain all these things, I didn’t feel that those explanations were entirely satisfactory.

Be that as it may, there remains the fact that Parasite is the work of a brilliant author and that it is not to be missed. If you can handle a tapeworm here and there, run out and get your copy right now.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I've read some really great reviews for this book, so I'm glad that you still enjoyed this, despite it being really different from her Feed series. I can normally deal with a little amount of gore, so will definitely be checking this book out when I'm in the right mood for it! Great review lovely!

  2. I'm glad that you enjoyed Parasite since many Feed fans did not. As a Mira Grant newbie I really liked it: creepy and thought-provoking.
    I would never accept to have tapeworms growing in me, or some other parasite. S***w the benefits.
    I agree with you that it's all a little bit all too convenient and my hunch is that it's going to turn out to all be a setup in later books. Well, we will have to wait and see if I am right.
    Great review Maja. :)

  3. I still need to finish the Feed trilogy, not to mention I'm determined to try the third October Daye novel before giving up on the series altogether, so when it comes to this author, I have a lot of catching-up to do. I can't say I'm drawn to this idea or concept, but I'm certainly glad you enjoyed it, Maja. Whenever I finish all of Grant/McGuire's previous works, I'll be picking this up for sure. :)

  4. Screaming and fainting is definitely not the best idea for a heroine who's trying to survive...though I guess there's not a whole lot you can do when it's inside your body. On a side note, just the world tapeworm makes my stomach turn. *shudder*

  5. I haven't read the Feed trilogy and I know how much you loved that one. I think I have the first book somewhere.
    Being a biology student, I love reading medical thrillers. My favorite author is Tess Gerritsen. So I'm intrigued by Parasite. Plus, I've heard good things from Jeann @ Happy Indulgence about it and we seem to share the same tastes.
    Great review, Maja and thanks for solidifying my want for the book. :)

  6. I'm not entirely sure I could stomach this one! The premise seriously grosses me out. It's interesting that your doubts were all related to the convenience of the characters and not the medical aspect. Which I guess is a good thing that the science aspect was believable (which I find is pretty rare). I think your review has sealed it for me that I need to read Feed because of your praise... and maybe avoid Parasite *shudders*

  7. "Is it just me or should allowing tapeworms to grow in your stomach be frowned upon in normal society?"

    I'm with you there Maja! But in the context of this book, the whole idea kind of intrigues me. I know after reading it though I'm going to be convinced I have a tapeworm. That's just how I work and why I really have to stay away from watching medical dramas on TV. I'm always POSITIVE I have whatever disease or virus is featured that week. Awesome.

    And I can definitely forgive Sal her screaming and fainting as long as she has that backbone when it matters. Beautiful review my friend!

  8. The whole tapeworm angle made me want to squirm LOL!

    I am so glad you loved this. I wish I would have liked it more but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe I couldn't get past the worms! :P

  9. I purchased this one for my library because we've got a huge medical thriller following but personally, I'll stay far away from this book not because it sounds horrible (far from it) but because my sensitive stomach wouldn't be able to take it. SO glad you enjoyed it though despite the occasional tape worm.

  10. ah! tapeworms ew. I had no idea that's what this book centered around. Creepy stuff. I have this one and haven't gotten to reading it yet, I tend to struggle with adult books so I like to set aside a lot of time to get through them. Though it seems like this one just might have me on the edge of my seat. Also, I need to read Feed so bad! Hubs bought me the book set for my birthday back in February and I haven't even opened it!

  11. Glad it was standing on its own feet.

  12. I saw mant mixed reviews about this book, but I finally gave up and didn't take it, now I think I made a mistake.

  13. Squee..awesome review and you nailed it. Believe it or not Feed wasn't my favorite book of the Newsflesh trilogy Deadline was, and characters were so strong..they became my friends, I bled for them. I am really anxious for book two of Parasitology.

  14. I'm so glad to hear you loved this book, because I know you're as in love with the Newsflesh series as I am, so I'm regaining my confidence in this book after reading a few not so enthusiastic reviews. I started it and put it aside, but now I'll be picking it back up this weekend. I'm afraid the endless comparisons to Feed will be inevitable for me too, but I'll deal with them. And no I can't imagine Georgia ever fainting (she has too much sugary caffeine flowing through her veins to faint properly). Sal sounds great, I'm glad you liked her in spite of the screaming and fainting. Lovely review Maja!

  15. Sheesh, I'm so behind!! I still need to read Feed and all those books, but they are DEFINITELY ones I will pick up soon. I'm glad that you really liked this latest from Mira though. It sounds awesome, if not a little "ugh" when it comes to the tapeworms. haha I do want to read this one. thanks for your thoughts. :)

  16. I looove her Toby books. But I was not a fan of her Feed book

  17. I keep forgetting this is Seanan. I do want to read this one and you made me want it more. The tapeworm thing does seem plausible. When people are desperate for a cure or just to feel well instead of sick, they will try anything.

    Darn it. You also made me want to read Feed right now too. I know I have the first one on my tbr somewhere... LOL

  18. I've been contemplating getting this and I think I will after this. This has me do intrigued. Great review :)

  19. I have this still waiting for review. I intend on getting to it soon as I promised that I would read a Mira book. I don't mind tapeworms and in fact a good majority of the world's population has them.. eww! I wouldn't want one but I can handle reading about them.

  20. I have seen this book around but haven't read any review for it. I'm so happy you enjoyed it and love the way it sounds. Now I'll have to read it. I don't mind tapeworms that much, but still it's gross sometimes. Great review, Maja :)

  21. hum... never read feed, but it sounds like this authors is an amazing writer. Not sure how I would feel about tapeworms, makes me cringe a little.

  22. I picked this one up at BEA and just haven't' had time to get to it yet. Sounds like it might be something my hubby would like as well.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  23. I haven't read any of her books yet, but I've heard amazing things. I am pretty easily convinced about things, especially medically, so I don't think I should have any problems with that. This sounds great!

  24. That sounds great! I am going to have so many books on my "to read" list that I might have to crawl in a corner and forget life and just read! Oh, how I wish ;)

  25. I'm one of the few remaining non-Mira Grant readers, unfortunately. I know I'm missing a whole lot but I just couldn't get into Feed for some reason.

    Anyway, I'm glad she's come through for you again in her new book. Favourites tend to disappoint you less, I found. :)

  26. I still need to read the Feed trilogy so Parasite was my first peek at Mira Grant's style and storytelling and now I'm even more excited to read her previous books since I loved this one!
    Great review, Maja!

  27. Even just the mention of tapeworms has me squirming!

    I'm glad you were impressed with this one Maja, especially with what I imagine were high expectations. I haven't actually read Feed yet, but I'll probably give that one a try before I pick this one up. Honestly, I don't know what to think about Parasite now! For every 'meh' review I read, I see another from someone who absolutely loved it. I guess I should just find out for myself. Thanks for sharing, as always! :)


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