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SPOILER ALERT!

Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite - Mira Grant


Review based on an uncorrected advance content provided by NetGalley.

 

Sally Mitchell had an accident. Or did she?*

 

*Quote taken from Parasite provided by NetGalley


Parasite was definitely difficult to rate and that's mainly because at the end of it, I didn't know how I felt. 
First of all, let me just say that I love Mira Grant, she really has a knack for bizarre apocalypse scenarios, she's a well-documented lady and overall a good writer. But, you know there's always a but, I feel like Parasite was a bit draggy. Please don't shoot me - I will most definitely buy the book in October and re-read it.

Why do I feel it was draggy? Well, as Mira Grant was building her story I felt like she overwhelmed it with details I didn't really care about. Details like Sal is going to her boyfriend where nothing happens, Sal is going to shower, Sal is going to work, after work she's buying a carnivorous plant for her boyfriend and so on and so forth. This can get a bit tiresome, I was constantly feeling like the plot wasn't moving forward.
So that's -2 ★.

The idea of the story is not bad at all, I quite enjoyed all those bits about the tapeworms and how they significantly improved the life of millions - until shit hit the fan, but anyway... let's get into it.

We meet Sally Mitchell who lives in an increasingly sterile world where people, with their ever-weakening immune systems, find themselves in dire need of a medical advance that can solve all their medical problems. In order to fill this need, the Intestinal Bodyguard™ is invented.
In the future, almost every human being has an Intestinal Bodyguard™ implanted in their body. But let's get back to Sally a bit...
Sally actually likes to be called Sal because really, she isn't Sally anymore. We're introduced to Sal's life 6 years after Sally had a car accident in which she suffered severe brain damage that rendered her a "vegetable" that would require to be on life support. She miraculously recovered - all hail to the Intestinal Bodyguard™, a tapeworm genetically engineered to cater to its host's every medical need. The only problem was that she woke up amnesic so she basically had to re-learn almost everything including English. SymboGen, the multinational company that supplies these Intestinal Bodyguards™, takes quite an interest in her life after the accident and she basically becomes a lab rat.
As the story unravels, we find out that the Intestinal Bodyguard™ is more complex than the normal folks know.

What the normal folks know is that the implants are a mix of human and tapeworm DNA. But it's not only that, there's also something that connects the two: toxoplasma gondii.

If you don't know what toxoplasmosis is, please google it, it's of utmost importance.
Apparently, this makes the Intestinal Bodyguard™ highly capable of infesting ones brain and therefore taking command of its host. Scary, isn't it? That's sort of what happened to Sally's body, only there was no Sally anymore so the parasite, that would ultimately become Sal, had no resistance from the original owner of the body. Complicated a bit, I know, but bear with me.
Almost everyone who has this Intestinal Bodyguard™ implanted in their body, starts to suffer from the sleeping sickness. People suffering from this sickness start walking around with lifeless eyes, at first they're non-aggressive creatures, some of them even non-responsive, but then of course they start bitting and choking people to death as the parasite in them learns how to infest without causing such damage that the body can't move anymore (?) - I didn't quite get that part, I feel like we'll get to that in the second book.

Sal and her boyfriend Nathan (who's also a parasitologist), find out together that it's truly the Intestinal Bodyguard™ who's causing this sickness, but no-one else in the world knows this, except SymboGen and the mad doctor of this series - Dr. Shanti Cale.

Let's talk about Shanti Cale a bit - she's pretty important. Dr. Shanti Cale's actual name is Surrey Kim, at least that's what she was called when she lived with Nathan and her husband. She had a PhD in genetic engineering and parasitology, and she worked for a rather small medical technology firm.

So as to fill an important gap, I already told you that Nathan was Sal's boyfriend - they met each other when Sal took her younger sister Joyce, assistant biologist, to the hospital for something I don't remember anymore. It is completely accidental that they happen to like each other very much.
Nathan Kim's mother, Surrey Kim also known as Shanti Cale, is one of the three scientists that worked on the Intestinal Bodyguard™. There's also Steven Banks, co-founder of SymboGen - the guy with the money who could fund this operation and Richard Jablonsky - the guy who's also a scientist and also a founder. Anyways, these three people made it all happen, bending some rules here and there, making mistakes that may ultimately lead to the end of mankind. Dr. Shanti Cale is the genius one though, we are told that without her, Intestinal Bodyguard™ wouldn't have ever happened.
You might be wondering why Dr. Kim had to change her name to Dr. Cale. Well that's complicated, there is a lot to explain. Steven already had the company which he called 'SymboGen' and he had a billion dollar idea, but no one to make it happen so he went with a proposal to Dr. Kim. She naturally accepted but because the plan would've required early and aggressive human testing there was a chance that they all might go to jail, so she agreed with one condition - that her family will not be harmed by her actions. Long story short, faked her death, changed her name - you know, all the things mad scientists do.
These three fellows really end up in a bad place as they encounter a lot of difficulties. Steven gets all paranoid, he is constantly afraid that Richard or Shanti will start to talk about the flaws of the Intestinal Bodyguard™, starts blackmailing people. Apparently, Steven had something so bad on Richard that the latter ultimately resorts to suicide, also consumed by the guilt of what they have done. Shanti goes into hiding fearing for her life.

The characters were likable, I guess. I especially liked Tansy (Subject VIII, Iteration II a tapeworm that has control over a body that suffered severe head trauma, similar to Sally Mitchell's case. One of Dr. Shanti Cale's experiment with which she tries to prove that the Intestinal Bodyguard™ can take over ones brain) who is a lot like a character we already encountered in the Newsflesh series, a bit crazy here and there, but efficient and funny. What more can I say? 
Parasite ends with a revelation and a promise for more, similar to the first two books in the Newsflesh series. I'm definitely gonna follow this book series, the storyline has a lot of potential and I hope Parasite will make it big.
I hope you'll enjoy this book at least as much as I did and remember...

... good health starts within.