When I read the blurb of this book, I was pleasantly surprised. This sounded like something new, something exciting and something that could really happen, maybe not in the near future but certainly some time. But while reading the book, my fascination waned and there were numerous times when I was extremely bored... unfortunately. Still, Parasite was a good book and maybe I'm going to check out the sequel.
In the very near future, millions of people are hosts for a 'friendly parasite', the SymboGen tapeworm, living in people's small intestine. When Sally Mitchell lies braindead in hospital after a severe car accident, the doctors talk about switching off any life-sustaining measures. But somehow the impossible happens and she comes back alive with no memory about her past life. She has to learn how to speak, eat, walk and everything else anew. It is the year 2027 now and Sal has been back to life for 6 years. She still needs to be monitored by SymboGen who want to use her to placate the numerous benefits of their tapeworm. She has a boyfriend, Nathan, who's a parasitologist (by chance). But suddenly there are more and more incidents that remind the experienced reader of zombie attacks. People seem to lose their mind, brains switched off, shuffling around, blankly staring into space or even acting violent. What happened to those people?
This is the situation, the setting, the starting position plotwise of this novel. And for exactly the first half of the book nothing happens!! Sal just walks from one place to another, has a few zombie encounters but nothing really happens! It was highly frustrating and it took all my self-motivation skills to keep on reading.
Then there was Sal, the female MC who describes everything from her perspective. It was hard to relate to her. I mean she was supposed to be madly in love with her boyfriend Nathan but I didn't feel any love vibes at all. Occasionally, they would jump into bed together and... again... nothing there. Sal is supposed to be smart and figure things out quickly but I don't think she does that at all. She felt pretty dumb to me. And Nathan was the ever friendly, loving boyfriend without a fault. Nothing interesting there to find either.
There's a lot of science talk in the book so it requires a lot of concentration sometimes to get through them. But I think that simply belongs to any good science fiction novel. The plot was awesome actually, I loved the idea of this parasite. I loved the descriptions of SymboGen, of the labs, of Sal's slow recuperation, of how she dealt with her family afterwards.
And in the second half of the novel, we finally meet a few interesting characters. I can't talk about them too much without spoiling anything but here I even had a few funny moments which I was very grateful for.
The big conclusion at the end didn't feel so big at all, since I had guessed it already from the very beginning of the book and most readers probably will too. I can recommend Parasite to all fans of medical science fiction who don't mind a few zombie-like scenes. But you need to have some patience with this rather long book. I hope the sequel will further develop the characters and make Sal a little bit more lively.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
In short, I didn’t like it. I’ve had a hard time even finishing it. The outcome was predictable from the start, the novel lacked action and I just couldn’t relate to the main character.
The novel lacked action in first place. It’s a very long description of a 6 year old child waking up from a cocoon her family and friends have built around her. After suffering from extensive brain damage during a car accident Sal woke up without any memories. She doesn’t know who she is, doesn’t know how to speak, read or write, has forgotten everything she ever learned. The story starts 6 years later with her having a boyfriend and sexual relationship while still living under the surveillance of her parents and the company that fabricated the tapeworm and having weekly psychological therapy. Without giving to many spoilers away, but: This is just so unrealistic. A six year old child (at least regarding her psychological condition) is having a sexual relationship with a doctor specialized in Parasitology while her tapeworm is apparently responsible for saving her after the accident and nobody thinks this is weird?
Let’s forget the relationship and have a look at the rest of the story. We get to accompany Sal to a lot of therapist sessions, medical treatments and examinations and nobody in the last six years found out that her tapeworm no longer is there where it should be? All this fancy ultrasound gel sessions and examination gadgetry in the future and no one ever considers of looking in her intestinal area? I was awed, but not in a good way. One other thing had me really wondering. Did you ever have a car accident? I had one, and I remember it. For 6 months I had nightmares of driving and not being able to brake. But after all, I still drive my car. What I don’t understand: Sal can’t even remember her accident but she is so over the top when driving with people in a car: Listening to radio is taboo as well as being emotionally excited; people should have both hands on the steering wheel while driving and their eyes always on the street. Every person in this book is being characterized by his driving style. It really is annoying.
As much as I like apocalyptic novels about viruses that wiped out mankind this book didn’t do it for me.