The first Mira Grant book I ever read was Feed. It was before I knew that Mira Grant was the same person as Seanan McGuire. I devoured Feed and the subsequent books in the Newsflesh trilogy and I also read a lot of McGuire’s books (published under her real name). I was really excited when I saw Parasite on my library’s bookshelf and I couldn’t wait to read it. It’s sort of a horror book, but it’s also science fiction (with a heavy dose of science — though how accurate that science is, I’ll leave it up to the scientists).
The story follows the life of Sal, who awakens from a coma after being in a horrific accident. She doesn’t remember anything from before the accident and she spends a lot of her time trying to figure out who she is now (a nicer person than before the accident) and what’s going on with her life (she has health (physical and mental) issues). The reason she’s alive is because of Symbogen, the company who is studying her body (and also paying for her healthcare). Symbogen is the pharmaceutical company that has created a tapeworm that humans ingest — it keeps us healthy (after everything we’ve done to destroy our immune systems).
The heart of Parasite is not the tapeworm or Sal’s life — it is a mystery. While Sal is trying to live her life, people around her are getting a weird sort of sleeping sickness and this is the heart of mystery. What’s really going on at Symbogen, what really happened to Sal, what’s going to happen to all these people who have this tapeworm inside them — and is any of this even connected at all. Grant weaves a fantastic, and often realistic, slightly horror-esque story about what happens when we mess with our bodies.
I loved the novel because the writing is pretty awesome. But I especially loved it because Grant does an exceptional job with her characters and her plot never falls short. Even though this was the first book in the series, it was fantastic in all the right ways. I’d recommend it to people who don’t mind a little horror. It’s not quite a zombie novel (but it kind of is, in a sense), but if you like those you won’t be disappointed. As for the science part of science fiction, I guess hard science fans probably will find problems with it, but if you can look past those, it’s enjoyable. I can’t wait for more.