In the interests of full disclosure, I haven’t read Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series so I have absolutely no idea how it compares. That said, based on how truly amazing Parasite was, if I had any money I’d have run out and bought all three books already.
It’s just so good.
Plot summary: A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.
I know it sounds really odd – tapeworms trying to take over the world or something. But just trust me when I say that Parasite is so, so much more than that.
Being Sally Mitchell sucks sometimes. There’s always another doctor who wants a question answered and thinks the best way to do it is to poke a stick through the bars of my metaphorical cage. I didn’t volunteer to be the first person whose life was saved by a tapeworm. it just happened.
I have to remind myself of that whenever things get too ridiculous: I am alive because of a genetically engineered tapeworm. Not a miracle; God was not involved in my survival. They can call it an ‘implant’ or an ‘Intestinal Bodyguard,’ with or without that damn trademark, but the fact remains that we’re talking about a tapeworm. A big, ugly, blind, parasitic invertebrate that lives in my small intestine, where it naturally secretes a variety of useful chemicals, including – as it turns out – some that both stimulate brain activity and clean toxic byproducts out of blood.
The characters are also pretty much perfect. Sally is slightly naive, but then again she’s technically only six years old. Having said that, she doesn’t fall into any of the usual traps – she doesn’t withhold information from the authorities for no reason, she doesn’t fall head-over-heels in love with a horrible man at first sight and she doesn’t decide she can deal with the whole thing herself, despite it having nothing to do with her.
All the characters’ decisions are rational and well thought out. There were times when I shook my head at what I thought was a silly twist or lazy writing… only for it to be either a) not what I thought or b) explained so well and so logically that it ended up making perfect sense. Parasite is as far from lazy writing as you can possibly imagine – every plothole, every doubt, every niggle is closed and I cannot think of a single fault with the story.
The only thing that irritated me was a tiny, tiny thing. Sally is terrified of cars, as you can imagine you would be after a near fatal accident. Unfortunately it’s just way over the top – she turns into a sniffling, whiny mess when anybody so much as glances at her while they’re driving. ‘How could they do that to me!?’ Aside from anything else, Sally, you were driving when you had your crash. You. So shut up. Like I said though, small point, and otherwise she’s a respectable heroine.
The relationships also work very well. Sally already has a long-standing boyfriend when we jump into the story, so it’s a pleasant change not to bother setting up a new romantic interest. Their relationship is a factor, but it’s more of a sub-sub-plot. He supports Sally when she needs it and plays a large part in the story in his own right, but he never bullies her or resents her. A good love interest, all told.
What’s more complex is Sally’s relationship with her parents and sister and it’s done… you guessed it, perfectly. There are an awful lot of issues regarding Sally’s accident and how her personality has changed, and Mira Grant doesn’t shove them under the carpet. The resentment and tension are felt very subtly to begin with, but then it builds gradually until it’s an unavoidable situation. Perfect.
The ending is slightly predictable, but like I mentioned before, it’s so well done and so… perfect that it really doesn’t matter. it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination. I was a little frustrated because I hadn’t realised that this was going to be a series and now I won’t get to find out what happens for practically forever. Points to the author though – there is a dramatic conclusion, but no obvious give-me-your-money cliffhanger. Like I said, no lazy writing here!
So. Perfect. This book is perfect. I do wish the blurb had been phrased differently as it did take away the mystery of what was causing the sleeping sickness, but I understand that isn’t the author’s fault. It was interesting watching the characters figure it out, but maybe it would have been better to learn along with them. But hey ho.
Parasite is a book that will capture your full attention and not let you go until you’ve turned the last page. It’s not some silly little zombie book – it’s a complete and well thought out story that’s, dare I say it, perfect.