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Parasite Hardcover – October 29, 2013

3.7 out of 5 stars 271 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Parasitology Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Big Fall Books Preview 2013: Sally--an amnesiac and the poster-girl for the corporation that saved her life--wants answers. It’s 2027, a near-future that is frighteningly like our present, and a corporate-owned treatment has rendered illness obsolete… until "sleeping sickness" hits, growing to epidemic proportions. What once kept everyone safe turns out to be beyond deadly. We see events unfold as Sally does, and her frustration becomes our own. Who can she trust? Can we even trust her? The first book of this ominous duology blends sci-fi imagination with the terrifying authenticity of horror then delivers like a creeping thriller, getting under your skin in a very good way. --Robin A. Rothman

From Booklist

Grant, author of the excellent Newsflesh series, turns from the walking dead to something that could be even more frightening. In the near future, a medical-scientific breakthrough leads to the creation of the Intestinal Bodyguard, a genetically engineered parasite that lives inside the human body and wards off numerous illnesses: a tapeworm, basically, that makes us healthier and allows us to live longer. But now, when most people have a Bodyguard living inside them, something goes horribly wrong, and the parasites have decided they’re tired of being guests inside our bodies. Grant is tackling some of the same themes here as she did in the Newsflesh novels (where the trouble started because a beneficial medical breakthrough had unintended consequences), and fans of that series will definitely want to check this new book out. But fans of Michael Crichton–style technothrillers will be equally enthralled: as wild as Grant’s premise is, the novel is firmly anchored in real-world science and technology. Grant is well known to horror fans, but with Parasite, she’s likely to acquire a new whole new group of readers. --David Pitt

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Product Details

  • Series: Parasitology
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1St Edition edition (2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316218952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316218955
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Parasite is hard to categorize -- and that's a good thing. It has elements of a corporate conspiracy thriller, a biotech thriller, a creepy science fiction/horror novel, and a mystery. It combines a low-key love story with an offbeat family drama. At its heart, Parasite is an "aliens take over human bodies" story, a staple of bad science fiction, but with the refreshing twist that parasites are substituted for aliens. Parasite will teach you more about tapeworms and other parasites than you might want to know, but it tells an innovative story and builds tension without resorting to car chases and explosions.

Sally Mitchell, brain dead and on the verge of having her organs harvested, opens her eyes. She awakens in a blank state, her brain wiped of its memories. Sally has been given a new life by virtue of a genetically engineered tapeworm called the SymboGen Intestinal Bodyguard. Six years later, she's relatively normal, but very different from the person she doesn't remember being before her accident. Sally copes with being reeducated, studied, and psychoanalyzed, while living in fear that SymboGen will stop paying her medical expenses if she isn't an appropriate guinea pig.

Sally's life becomes even complex with the outbreak of an apparent disease that turns people into dangerous shambling sleepwalkers. My initial reaction to this was "oh geez, Mira Grant found a way to add zombies to the story." Fortunately -- since the world really doesn't need another zombie novel -- Parasite takes off in a wild and unexpected direction. The mystery of Sally's true nature is telegraphed so often that the reveal isn't much of a surprise, but that doesn't detract from the story. Other revelations at the novel's end are more surprising, and they whet interest in the next installment.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I found this book in the Sci-Fi section of my local library and was intrigued; nice cover, promising plot, new author (for me).
The plot:
Sally Mitchell has been given a new lease on life. Declared clinically dead after a tragic auto accident her family was about to throw in the towel and consent to cessation of life support when she miraculously opens her eyes. For Sally, who has total amnesia about her past life and has to relearn everything one normally knows from childhood, this is equivalent to a rebirth.
Her recovery is attributed to The Intestinal Bodyguard, a tapeworm developed by the Symbogen Corporation, which has been readily accepted by most of the human race. This parasite is ingested in pill form to take up residence in the intestinal tract, thus guarding their human hosts from every conceivable pathogen, including cancer, and even regulating endocrine function to control diabetes, obesity and pregnancy.
Unfortunately, in order to rush this discovery through the required FDA hoops Symbogen Corporation and its three founding partners have taken a few shortcuts with potentially deadly consequences to the human hosts. Unaccountably, hordes of innocent people are succumbing to a mysterious 'sleeping sickness' which basically turns them into predatory Zombies. It is up to Sally and her boyfriend Nathan to save the human race.
The narrative is in Sally's point of view. Although obviously intelligent her amnesia clouds everything with a filter of naivete that soon becomes annoying. By about page 50 I was ready to give it up, the whole mood of the story was beginning to remind me of "The Little Shop of Horrors" for some reason, complete with cartoon characters and carnivorous plants.
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Format: Kindle Edition
If you've read the Newsflesh trilogy, you will find the themes and characters in this book familiar, but disappointing. If you haven't read Newsflesh yet, read that instead. And then don't make the mistake of assuming that another book by the same author will also be good. You'd be wrong.

This book's a dud. Slow paced, uninteresting characters, with a plot that heavily depends on outrageous coincidences. If you have any tendency to analyze the reasonableness of what you're reading, you will be constantly annoyed. You are a young woman who finds out something important about an incredibly scary disease that is striking down hundreds of people: there's a test for it. Your father is head of the local military disease unit -- but you don't tell him about the test because (a) you're worried about losing your own medical care and (b) he's being mean to you. Makes sense, right? Alternatively, you are the father of the above stupid and selfish young woman. For some reason you suspect that she's hiding something, so rather than ask her reasonably to tell you, you keep her in virtual house arrest for 5 days and then (mild spoiler alert) pretend to be sick yourself and attack her in order to scare her into giving up what she knows. I mean, who are these people?

There are also some very basic stupidities about the science in the plot, and you don't have to be a scientist to be aware of them. A big part of the mystery revolves around the idea that nobody (except the evil corporation who created it) quite knows the composition of the genome of the eponymous parasite. Hello? This is set in the future, not the past. We sequence genomes every day now. Anyone who wants to know the DNA composition of an organism can just throw a sample on the sequencer.
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