Author: Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)
Published: October 29th 2013 by Orbit
Pages: 512 pages
Status: First reading, November 05 to 09, 2013
Genre: Science fiction, near future, medical thriller
I don’t know about you guys, but I find parasites truly disgusting and quite disturbing. Not snakes, not spiders, not insects but parasites – if you want to really creep me out tell me about parasites. About six months ago Caustic Soda did a podcast on parasites and they reminded me all over why I think they are the most disturbing creatures on the planet. And me because I am the odd type of person who actually like to hear/read about things I find confronting I was quite looking forward to reading Parasite.
The themes of Parasite reminds me a lot of Feed on a very superficial level, but this is very much it’s own book and the characters are totally different. Both books deals with a bioengineering near future thriller where some sort of medicine has gone horribly wrong and we end up with something like zombies. They are also both thrillers and of course written by the same author, but that is where the similarities stops. Grant is exploring the idea that we as humans are willing to be sold something that is too good to be true if it gives us what we want aka. good health. Who wouldn’t want to get rid of cancer, allergies, autoimmune disorders, get easily regulated medicine etc… If your doctor told you the product was safe, wouldn’t you take it? I think I probably would – especially if he suggested it in the middle of pollen season.
I really like that in both Parasite and Feed it is not Science who are the villains, but things has gone wrong because of human error, human mistakes and human motives. Greed and arrogance can make us do stupid things, can make us careless and:
“Sometimes humanity is the reason we can’t nice things.”
Lets talk a bit about the characters, Sal is our protagonist and she has amnesia. She had a car crash a few years back and had to relearn everything. She is both an adult and a person with only 6 years of experiences which makes her a rather interesting protagonist. Like most other amanisa stories in fiction she has discovered that the she don’t like the person she was before she lost her memories and that she is now a totally different person. She is the person her experiences has shaped her to be. She has been extremely sheltered, her parents treat her like a teenager and Sal struggles for independence. Because of her sheltered life she is not a particularly brave person and she is young enough not to be particularly competent either, but she is intelligent, extremely sweet and quite sharp. Unlike most of Seanan McGuire’s other protagonist Sal is not a kick-ass heroine – she is more like the horror protagonist, poking her nose where it would be wiser not to. Sal has a quite distinct voice in the novel and says wonderful things like:
“Conservation of panic is important”
I really enjoyed Sal and Nathan’s relationship and how Sal’s family was coping with her not having their daughter’s memories. The family has to deal with the fact that the daughter they knew before the accident is now dead and that they have a different person as a daughter who look just like the girl they knew. It is not a new idea but it is great to see it explored again.
Sal’s interactions with SymboGen Corporation (go watch the videos), are so interesting. On the one hand they are her protectors and her health care providers, on the other hand she is their test subject and she always fears that someday they will just keep her there. But at the same time their company is the first home she has any memory off. She feels more at home at hospitals than she does at her own house.
I really enjoyed the small bit’s of fictional non-fiction in between the chapters, small interview bits, bits of advertisements and diaries. They worked as great world building and freed us from long exposition pieces within the rest of the text.
The challenge that is set in Sal’s part, is does she want to know what is really going on, or does she want to say ignorant, obvious and perhaps even safe? Does she want to open the doors that can not be closed again, because you can not un-know something.
I am very much looking forward to the next one and I was sad when it finished. I could easily have read 500 pages more and not tired of it. So I am very happy the next book comes out next year.
I tried to find a picture for this one, but tapeworms are just too darn disgusting so I gave up