Book Review 26 – Parasite

(Parasitology #1)
by Mira Grant

Reading challenge:

  • Dystopia reading challenge

Goodreads link
Goodreads summary:

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm 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.

3 star

Now this sounds like a book I should enjoy and learn something from, but it did not turn out this way, much to my disappointment. It took me two months to read it, which is a long time for me – I’m able to devour an 800 page book in a few days. It has to be a really great book though and Parasite did not grip me. I was constantly falling asleep when I tried to read it in the evening and that is never a good sign for a book. When I read a compelling story I can’t let go of it even if my eyes are filled with sand from a lack of sleep. And I had really high hopes for it. Maybe it just wasn’t what I needed.

Parasite has an amazing premise – who has ever heard of using genetically modified tapeworms to help heal chronic conditions and other maladies? It sounds crazy yet it totally works in the book. Perhaps fewer people would us it if it ever became a real option – we have people scared of proved and tried vaccines for their children, so I doubt anyone would go for genetically modified tapeworms. You never know, though and that is what makes this premise so awesome. It’s inspired.

The problems I had with the book are length, pacing, and characters. The confusion of our heroine Sally, the person we follow around when things start to spiral out of control, kills the action. The sharp spike of terror we should feel when people turn into raving zombies just doesn’t appear. Perhaps I’m desensitized by watching all those Walking Dead episodes. Maybe other readers connected more with the book, but I truly struggled with it. We must read through descriptions of her everyday life, her fears and her past. It feels superfluous. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, for her or other people in her life to figure things out, or just forget about SymboGen patents and start researching the parasites when things spiralled out of control. Where are other groups of people crying out foul? I can’t believe SymboGen can control the internet or other people from spreading the word. They can’t control mobile phones or face-to-face conversations.

So, when I was despairing of ever finding out the truth, although I was pretty sure I had it figured out, the pace picked up and I even started to enjoy reading it a bit. Sure it’s the last hundred pages or so, but by then I knew everything was being set up for a sequel. One I won’t be reading because I’d rather focus on other series. But maybe one day my curiosity will get the better of me and I’ll pick it up, just to find out how they will save humanity from the worms they’ve willingly ingested. Perhaps this book would make an amazingly creepy movie, but as a book it just doesn’t deliver on its promise.


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