Orbit/Hachette Book Group; 10/29/13
Hardcover, 512 pages
Parasitology Series #1
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.
My Thoughts: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.
In Parasite by Mira Grant people are intentionally allowing parasites to be implanted in order to improve their health. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!
It is 2027. Sally (Sal) Mitchell survived a car crash six years ago and woke up in the hospital with no memories from her life before. Her miraculous survival and recovery is attributed to her SymboGen Intestinal Bodyguard. It's a tapeworm that has been genetically engineered to keep people free of diseases and other harmful medical conditions and parasites. While Sal lives with her parents and her sister, Joyce, she is essentially a totally different person from the Sally they knew before the accident. Her father, Colonel Alfred Mitchell, United States Army, is currently the director/lab manager of the USAMRIID San Francisco research center. His connections are why she had an early specialized version of the SymboGen implant.
Sal's boyfriend, Nathan Kim, is a parasitologist who refuses to have any Intestinal Bodyguard because he's not completely convinced they are without other side effects. Neither Sal nor Nathan trust SymboGen co-founder Dr. Steven Banks, but Sal is required to meet with him at the SymboGen research building when asked for tests so they can monitor her health and recovery. Everyone's doubts begin to increase ten-fold when weird sleep-walking people suddenly start showing up - and some of them are becoming aggressive.
The chapters open with excerpts of information that was taken from books or autobiographies - mainly from the trio of researchers who started SymboGen and explores their early experiments with tapeworms dating back to 2015. What is written stands out in sharp contrast, some of it cautionary, to the reality in 2027. And the direction the researchers are going all seems plausible today. Yes, of course, why not experiment with parasites and change them genetically so they will help you. What could possibly go wrong?
I really enjoyed this book. While I basically liked the first book in Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, I never went on to read the other books because I didn't really care if the zombies got them or not. This time around I have to hand it to Grant. I want to know what happens. I'm ticked off that after 500+ pages the story is to be continued. I want to know more, darn it, and I want to know what happens next right now. Whew. Rant done.
As she delves into biomedical experimentation in Parasite, I would favorably compare Grant to Crichton in this case - with the exception of the ending. I do wish that the story had more closure and wasn't a too-be-continued.
The writing and pacing is excellent and the main characters are well developed. Grant does an incredible job playing on our desires for good health with little investment of time or labor to get that good health. Add that to the experimental genetic modifications being made to all sorts of plants and animals today and you could see this future happening.
For a horror novels, the details aren't terrible gruesome, but you have to prepare yourself for thinking about tapeworms and worms inside people, growing and living. That fact alone may be too much for some people.
Go to the website and watch the three SymboGen video. Think about health care for all. Consider: Good Health Starts Within.
This one is Very Highly Recommended.
Mira Grant lives in California, sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests you do the same. Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire - winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. Find out more about the author at www.miragrant.com or follow her on twitter @seananmcguire.