Parasite by Mira Grant
Talk about a perfect Halloween read! I sat down on October 31st to read this, and just blazed through it. Next time I looked up, it was hours later, long after dark, and I had zombies on my brain. Zombies. Zommbbbiiiieeeees!
Enter Sally, a survivor of a horrific crash who wakes up with no memory of her life before the car accident. (YES! Amnesia plots are my favorite.) She’s a miracle survivor, so for the last six years, as she’s slowly re-learned who her family is, who she is, and even how to speak, she’s been a bit of a natural science experiment for the company whose medical breakthrough (a living tapeworm-like implant that fixes your body) made her survival possible.
But the company (and the government for whom her father works) are keeping secrets, and as people start collapsing from a mysterious sleeping sickness – and saying her name! – Sal finds herself caught right in the middle of it.
I’m no zombie fan. Never. But this wasn’t really a zombie story. It was a speculative (medical?) suspense thriller full of corporate machinations, amnesia, and…a side-plot of zombie apocalypse. Mira Grant is a master of suspense, putting me on the edge of my seat in anticipation that just built and built as Sal navigates her life, her turbulent relationship with who people tell her she used to be, and all the medical tests she has to take. The take on zombies is also novel and intriguing. It’s medicine run amok, humans overreaching, the guilty in denial, and a moral question of whether the zombie cure is worse than murder.
While I haven’t read Grant’s previous series (Feed, Deadline, Blackout), I did read theothercanary’s reviews of the two books and I’m definitely seeing parallels – a twist on the classic zombie story, the hearth-pounding escalation of tension, the way each chapter is prefaced with a snippet from a book or news reel that drops hints about how exactly the zombie disaster came about, the dark side of science and technological advances…
In fact, these surface similarities made me all the more worried about whether Sal and her sweet boyfriend scientist, Nathan, would even survive this book. Because, well, Feed.
If you loves the Newsflesh trilogy, you’ll see Mira Grant’s all over Parasite.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. Sal’s family’s bizarre, cruel, and out of proportion behavior just plain irritated and confused me. At the end of the book, I have an inkling of a suspicion that I know what was going on (and I really hope the next book addresses it head on), but the jerking around meant I was was getting reader whiplash and gnashing my teeth. Sal’s eventual response to all of this near the end of the book was a balm of satisfaction.
I could also see the revelation of the last page a mile away. And by a mile, I mean, I saw the writing on the wall pretty early on, and then it smacked me a couple times in the face about half-way through the novel. By the time Sal is forced to face the truth, we’ve been anticipating that big reveal for a couple hundred pages.
All that’s left now is the crazy possibilities of where the books will go from here. I can’t imagine it, and I love that.
Book for review provided by Orbit Books/Hachette Book Group.