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 Intestinal Bodyguard worm 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.
“Isn’t that the justification used by every scientist who made something wonderful, only to discover that they’ve made something terrible? ‘We did it for Science.’”
This is far, far outside what I typically read. Closer to what Newsflesh readers enjoy than October Daye readers. Since I don’t typically read this genre or this type of series, I don’t actually have knowledge of what tropes are typically used. I can’t tell what is a trope and what is just Seanan. I just know I’d probably be disappointed if I decided to pick up another parasite takeover series.
In a lot of ways, Parasite was what I expected for Newsflesh going in only knowing it was about zombies. This is the story of the outbreak. This is the story of the start, when weird things first start happening. This is the story about someone so thick in the middle of everything, that everyone wants her. It is based in science to its core, where every step of the way it is driven by the science and by the need for more science. Even if that science requires me to suspend every bit of knowledge I have gained until this point in my life.
In a lot of ways, it also feels like the later parts of Newsflesh. We have the creepy scientists who are just trying to save the world but somehow know everything. We have the hiding in the middle of nowhere so no one knows where they are. We have the creeping around and the stealing and the survival. There is also the random person that can come out of nowhere and kill you! Definitely like Newsflesh.
The characters are interesting. The main character, Sal Mitchell, is way, way more interesting than she appears to be in the beginning of the book. What makes her so interesting? Read and find out because that is spoilers in the worst way. She also has memory loss in a way that actually makes sense!! She cannot remember anything before her accident. Well, not everything is gone, she remembers the warm, hot, red, dark. Other than that, everything is gone, and she had to start from nothing. She had to learn how to use language again, she had to learn math and how the world works, how to use her muscles for things more than what was in her muscle memory, and even who she is. The accident, the memory loss? It changed who she was, which isn’t a surprise.
Since Sal is only 6 years old, since that is when she had her accident, it makes the love interest even weirder than it already was. Nathan Kim is extremely accepting of Sal’s inability to remember her past. Which, I suppose, isn’t so weird since he didn’t know her from before her accident. However, with every step of this book, with every new twist and turn and really weird revelation….Nathan is completely fine with it. For someone entirely willing to accept…everything he has had to accept so far, you’d think he’d be a lot more unstable.
There are three different sides in this book. It isn’t just us vs them. No, it is us vs them vs them vs them…and we have to choose a side, the side we think we’ll have the best chance of survival with. The first side we learn about is Dr. Banks and SymboGen. They are the ones who created the tapeworms, and they are really creepy and shady as hell. They swooped in after Sal’s accident to study her in every way they could. Then there is Dr. Shanti Cale, who helped create the tapeworm but left the company for reasons. Cale is creepy, is just like Dr. Shannon Abbey in Newsflesh (so she isn’t really a surprise). The last side is a surprise, because of spoilers. The last side is crazy, as opposed to the greed of Banks, and the apathy of Cale.
The best thing about Parasite is the story of Sal Mitchell vs. the world, though. Everyone lies to her, everyone keeps things from her. Everyone wants to make sure that she finds out certain things on their terms, not anyone else’s, and certain not Sal’s. Her family sucks. They treat her like shit, all because they’re allowed to.
So far, this isn’t my favourite Seanan McGuire series. It is well written, though. Those that enjoy this type of story, with the end of civilization near and a rogue tapeworm, will love Parasite. For me, Newsflesh got me because it was able to drop me into a pit of despair, and this doesn’t manage it nearly as well. I didn’t have as much keeping me invested. Also, I have no idea how the surprise at the end was such a surprise. I thought we already learned that surprise. It was very clearly laid out in the middle.
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Parasitology series page!