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Parasite Eve Hardcover – October 1, 2005
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Pre-order today
From Publishers Weekly
Japanese pharmacologist Sena's biochemical horror novel, which won the first Japan Horror Novel Award, has lost something in translation. Notwithstanding the many academic footnotes, the author fails to suspend disbelief in the book's outlandish premise;that mitochondria, subcellular organelles, have secretly evolved and developed an intelligence superior to Homo sapiens. Alternating between past and present, the story opens with a car crash that imperils the life of Kiyomi, the wife of scientist Toshiaki Nagashima; that "accident" sets in motion the mitochondria's elaborate scheme involving a parasitic kidney transplant to inherit the planet. The plot reaches almost farcical levels when the cell component manipulates organic matter to form podlike human simulacra, complete with fake genitalia. Readers expecting the thrills or suspense of Curt Siodmak's classic Donovan's Brain or even Michael Crichton's Prey will come away disappointed. (Sept.)
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"Parasite Eve combines Michael Crichton's scientific cutting-edge plausibility wiht David Cronenberg's abject flesh/sex horror. Throw in Frankenstein and The Blob, synthesize, and enjoy." - Fangoria
"Parasite Eve will appeal to general readers, and not just devotees of science fiction and horror." - SF Magazine Japan
Top customer reviews
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The writing is very scientific. If you don't like getting down to the raw science of a sci-fi novel, then you might not like this too much. I love science and scientific explanations of how things work, so this was a learning experience for me as well as being entertaining. It's like you're being taught biological science, but in such a way that you don't feel like you're "at school", if you get what I'm saying.
The plot of the story is great. I love the ideas behind the plot, and the way it makes you question whether or not your own body could rebel against you like that, and you'd have no way to do a thing in the world about it. That said, the writing can get sort of tedious in some places, especially if the author goes into more specific technical detail about things. That can cause the narrative to bog down a little at times. The characters, too, can suffer from this, since the focus shifts off them and their emotional investment in the story and onto the dry science of it all. I think there wasn't enough time set aside to character development in general, though I don't know if this is a cultural thing. This is, after all, a book by a Japanese author, and one of only 2 novels by Japanese writers I have ever read before. The writing style is definitely different than Western literature, so that could account for some of the issues I had with story focus and character development.
If you're into science fiction and horror, especially when the two genres are combined, you'll probably enjoy this book.
The protagonist, I believe, is the titular character, but most would probably argue it's her lover - in any case the story is about the two of them coming together and ultimately changing the world. The author was actually working on his PHD in pharmacology when he wrote the book and he makes the idea of a sentience lurking undiscovered in each of our cells hideously believable. If I have any complaint it's that the sequels are only available as Playstation games, but they are not impossible to find...
Yes, this is pretty icky in spots, and it has the pacing that is usual in translations of Japanese novels. That is, it appears slightly off to the western reader. But, guess what? Some of us find that very appealing in a thriller.
I found the idea of mutant mitochondria excellent (always thought that would be a good idea, and there are several other science fiction writers that have tackled that possibility very well). The writing was strong enough to make my heart break for the husband, Toshiaki Nagashima, and for Kiyomi's parents.
I didn't expect the end of this book to play out as it did, and that is always a plus for me, too. The writer kept me engaged and surprised clear to the end.