Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Review: Parasite by Mira Grant
Listened to this one on Audible too.
Spoilery thoughts behind the link:
In the near-future, the SymboGen corporation has manufactured the Intestinal Bodyguard, a designer tapeworm hybrid, which boosts our immune systems, secretes the drugs we need, helps us heal from injury and protects us from illness. It's a medical miracle, and almost everybody has one. Of course, it's all too good to be true - SymboGen forced their tapeworm through the testing process two quickly, and lied about its genetic makeup. The tapeworms are taking over our brains, and of course there is a massive coverup.
My first thought, after reading the first little bit of the book, was "OMG it's toxoplasmosis!!" Because that is some Seriously. Scary. Real-life shit. Which I've read up on, because I'm one of the infected, and it seriously freaks my shit out. Maybe others have already written some thrillers inspired by these kinds of crazy behavior-affecting parasites, but this is the first I've seen. I've been waiting one.
I was really excited, at the beginning of this book. Especially since it was obvious that our protagonist WAS her tapeworm. She was in a bad car accident which she seemed to have caused herself for no readily apparent reason (hello, behavior-affecting parasite!). She had been brain-dead long enough that her family was about to pull the plug. When she woke, she could remember nothing of being a human being - she could only remember the hot, warm, dark, and the sound of drums. She had to learn how to do everything again from scratch. As we learned more about the parasites, it was clear that Life was Finding a Way ala Jurassic Park - the tapeworms are sterile and only able to reproduce in laboratory settings, etc., etc.
A little over 1/3 of the way through the book, I was starting to get really exasperated, because it seemed to be turning into a Zombie Book. I thought about putting it down. I REALLY don't like zombie books. Some quick googling and very mild spoilers convinced me to keep going. People posted that there was a Big Surprise, and I should keep at it! It would be worth it!
At half-way through the book - THERE IT IS!!! Ha ha ha ha ha!! The reveal that they spliced in toxoplasma gondii DNA. And... then, I began to find the science progressively less believable. The real turning point for me was the scene with the doctor telling us she smuggled out the first generation parasite in her gut so she would have proof that SymboGen should have known about the possibility of the parasitocalypse that was unfolding. They removed a living piece of her tapeworm, and she tried to kill the rest and flush it out of her body. Turns out she didn't kill it all - it moved from her intestine into her abdominal cavity and wrapped itself around her spine. She was very grateful that it didn't chew its way out of her intestine and kill her. Um....What? I'm not a biologist, granted. But we're not talking about a microscopic parasite here, one that can easily move between blood and tissues. We're talking about a large TAPEWORM. Did it.... phase through the wall of her intestine? If I'm missing something obvious here, someone please comment - I would like to know!
From that point in the book, more and more of the pages seemed to be dedicated to the Zombies (the people whose minds were being incompletely taken over by their parasites). And it was getting grosser and grosser.
About 3/4 of the way through the book, I reached my limit. It was grossing me out too much, and wasn't giving me anything I was particularly enjoying in return. I didn't feel I had learned anything new or interesting that I hadn't pretty much figured out at the very beginning of the book. Have I mentioned I don't like zombie books? I really, really don't like zombies. Life is short, and there are way too many books that I'll never be able to read. I put this one down, and moved on to the next one.
I really enjoy Seanan McGuire's books in the fae universe. I'll definitely be looking for more of them! I'm about done with the zombie books, though.
Up or down ballot (note for myself): DOWN. I don't like zombie books, and didn't finish. I would like to request less horror and gore, and more interesting things to think about. Please.