I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
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 tapeworm 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.
I read this book to fill the Creepy Crawlies square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
I never thought I would ever say this: I wish this book had been scarier. I’m not a horror reader, generally speaking, although I’ve been gradually developing a bit of a taste for the genre. If I had to describe this one, I would tell you that it’s like a mash-up ofFrankenstein, The Girl With All the Gifts, and Jurassic Park (but substitute tapeworms for dinosaurs).
Mira Grant is the horror writing alter-ego of one of my favourite authors, Seanan McGuire. I was genuinely creeped out by her bookInto the Drowning Deep with it’s dark twist on mermaids. I have herNewsflesh trilogy in the future of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project. But I was disappointed with this novel when I had guessed at about the halfway mark exactly what was going on. Not that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book, but I just couldn’t imagine any reader being fooled beyond that point.
What I did appreciate was the basis in science--I’ve read about the Hygiene Hypothesis (roughly, we’re too clean and our immune systems are developing autoimmune diseases just to have something to do). Also that we evolved to deal with internal parasites and they evolved to calm our immune systems in order to survive. Too clean and no calming parasites equals allergies, food sensitivities, and self-destroying syndromes.
Like so many twenty first century stories, this book is filled with conspiracy theories--it’s difficult to choose between them. Should we believe SymboGen with their bio-engineered tapeworms, or the renegade scientist with her own version, or Sal’s father who works for the military? They all have their own takes on things, leaving Sal wondering who really has her back or if all of them are against her or using her. A paranoid story for paranoid times.
I guess I’m over conspiracy theories and although the tapeworms were a bit squicky, I didn’t find them horrifying. Perhaps a side effect of having been a biology major early in my university career. So although I am loathe to say that I didn’t like something written by an adored author, I don’t think I’ll be bothering with the sequel toParasite.