Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: Symbiont

SymbiontAuthor: Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology, #2
Released: November 25th 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 518 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon


The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world's population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde.
Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.

Usually when a duology becomes a trilogy or a trilogy becomes a more lengthy series overnight, I grumble and complain and become instantly resentful of both the author and the publisher. But when I discovered that this duology somehow grew to become a trilogy, I felt nothing but satisfaction and joy. More books from Mira Grant are always good news to me. In fact, if Parasitology suddenly became a 180 books long medical thriller/soap opera hybrid, I’d still be a happy camper. That’s how much I admire this author and trust in her ability to always, always deliver.

Like Parasite, Symbiont is mostly told from Sal Mitchell’s perspective, with diary entries, chapters and correspondence from other characters in between. Sal’s voice is nothing like what we usually get from Mira Grant. She is a frightened girl, hesitant, unsure, often whiny, and a follower by her own admission. For the most part, Sal doesn’t even try to be brave (which can admittedly be a tad exhausting at times), but in Symbiont, we witness her growing at least somewhat stronger and more confident. She will never be the most traditional heroine, but then again, she’s not the most traditional human being, so I suppose that’s all right.

My experience with medical thrillers is virtually nonexistent which makes it impossible for me to compare Symbiont with others of its kind, but the amount of research behind this book is obvious and quite impressive. One could never accuse Grant of doing things halfway. The science in her science fiction is always so believable and infinitely scary. I kept imagining my brain being slowly eaten by a parasite and let me tell you, it was not a pleasant thought at all.

The pacing could have been better, especially in the first half. I felt that some events included were absolutely inconsequential and that the story would have functioned a lot better without them. But the second half of the book has no such issues –it was, in fact, so tense that I sometimes forgot to breathe.

In addition to her excellent worldbuilding, Grant’s characterization is, as always, superb. This stands true for more than just Sal – each and every one of her characters is built to perfection. Through Dr. Cale and Dr. Banks, we are offered insight into the minds of two mad scientists with brilliant minds and sociopathic tendencies. Dr. Cale was especially interesting in that regard because she actually tried to adhere to basic ethical and behavioral standards, but it was always a conscious effort, not something that came naturally. I’ve also noticed that Grant always includes a slightly unhinged, homicidal girl (Foxy in Blackout and Tansy in Parasite and Symbiont) as the perfect source of comic relief. This may be a template character for Grant, but it is always endlessly entertaining to me.

”Hello?” I tried again. “Look, I’m all like, barefoot and lying in yuck, and that’s a serious infection risk, so could you maybe come and get me and take me somewhere clean? Or better, give me back my shoes and let me go? I promise not to murder you even a little.”

While Parasitolgy didn’t necessarily capture my heart like Newsflesh before it, its quality is unquestionable. I have no doubt that we’ll be getting a spectacular finale next year. I for one can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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'm glad to see that you enjoyed this one minus the pacing. I really enjoyed the first book and know I'll read this one eventually. I've not read her Newsflesh series which I've heard is really wonderful. Great review!

  2. I had no idea that this turned into a trilogy! Yay that this was a great second book!

  3. I have never read a book by Mira Grant, Maja, but I have a couple of her books. I guess I need to change that seeing as you enjoy her books so much. I love what you have to say about the world building. It sounds amazing and I'm curious about the main character. I've read a few medical thrillers in the past and have really enjoyed them. You should check out Tess Gerritsen's medical thrillers too. They are amazing.
    Lovely review, Maja!

  4. I've never read Grant's books but I've seen lots of praise for how well-researched they are. Considering I tend to over-analyze the science-y aspects in these types of books, I should give this author a try sometime because I get the feeling I won't be disappointed.

  5. I prefer her UF books ;)
    But these are sure cool

  6. I still need to read the Newsflesh trilogy and I have the books in my Kindle library but I really enjoyed Parasitology and I'm really happy to hear you enjoyed Symbiont enough for 4 stars even if the pacing in the first half had some issues, which is good to know for when I read it!
    Great review Maja!

  7. I find these books daunting, Maja. But I'm on a mission to resist reading door stoppers. Mira Grant also is an unchartered territory for me, so I'm doubly wary. I'm a little worried that the heroine would be a bit hard to take, considering she's not a very confident character. I'm going to have to take your word for it, Maja.

    Great review!

  8. For the most part, I hate it when an author tries to squeeze more books out of a series, but in this case it seems justified. I hadn't realized that Parasitology had morphed into a trilogy, so thanks for the happy news. I love a good genre hybrid!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads.

  9. The world building and characterization sounds good even if the pacing could have been a little better

  10. Sal's a great character. I appreciate that she's not a typical heroine and am excited to hear that she grows into some of her potential in this story.

  11. I have her first book in her zombie series but haven't started it yet. Wasn't sure if this one would be up there for me to want, but you have changed it. I now know I want this series as well! Plus, I'm an ending girl so knowing the first half is slow-ish but you are rewarded with the second half is fine by me! :)

  12. I was hunting down my ARC of book one the other day because I must dive in and read this series.

  13. I don't think I could handle this series. I was just telling my husband that anything with viruses or parasites totally freaks me out. I'm glad you enjoyed though!

  14. "I kept imagining my brain being slowly eaten by a parasite and let me tell you, it was not a pleasant thought at all."

    That would be me as well Maja! By the end of this book (or the first one really since I haven't read it), I'd be utterly convinced I had a parasite and I'm sure I'd have a number of psychosomatic symptoms to prove it ;-) Medical thrillers are not a good genre for me. I'm way to much of a hypochondriac!

  15. While Newflesh is hard to compare to..I am loving this series as well.

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