Let me just start by saying I had really high hopes for this book. I first saw it featured on a blog I trust at the start of the year. I thought the concept sounded amazing and unique. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The publisher was kind enough to send it to me a few days before it came out and I started it immediately. I was not disappointed!
Parasite is the story of Sal, a woman who is in a car accident and declared legally brain dead. When her family is about to pull the plug on the machines keeping her alive, she suddenly wakes up. All thanks to the SymboGen parasite. In the future in this book most people are fitted with an intestinal parasite which helps with a range of health problems such as allergies. It basically means no more taking so many pills just to survive day to day. Unfortunately she has no memory of anything before waking up. The book jumps ahead six years, and Sal can now walk and talk just like before. Only she is a different person completely, as she has no memories of her old self.
In the book we first see the “sleeping sickness” while Sal is shopping at the mall. The “sleeping sickness” is basically people acting like zombies. The reason behind this is pretty obvious if you’ve read the blurb, the parasites are taking over their hosts’ body. Quite a lot of the book is taken up with the protagonist trying to figure out what’s going on and why people are starting to act this way. Though it’s quite obvious to the reader, I don’t feel like this took away from the story at all.
My favourite part of the whole reading experience is Grant’s ability to build horror gradually. I’m not one to read horror or thriller novels regularly. The only horror I can be said to read is zombie novels (got to love a good zombie story). But the scary scenes in this novel were done so well! No jump-y moments (hope that makes sense!). It was very much a gradual build to being scared, which left me screaming “shut the freaking door” at the book. I found this to be very effective and there were quite a few scenes that left me with goose bumps.
As I said above, I love zombie stories, and I think that was one of the reasons I loved this book so much. It wasn’t an outright zombie novel, but it did have a few of the elements of a good zombie story. To me it seemed like the absolute start of a zombie novel done really well. There was no sudden “oh god, run for your life!” It was very much people seeing other people acting in a strange way and thinking they were sick and then pretty much going on with their daily lives. Even though you suspect where this series is going to go with the whole zombie-like apocalypse, you still see where the people seeing what is happening in the story come from. So what, you see a few people acting like zombies walking down the street, what are you supposed to do? Quit your job and find a cabin in the mountains to hide away in? Or dismiss it as a fluke that could never affect you and go about your business as usual. I found this aspect of the story to be so interesting and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series goes with this.
I won’t take the time to comment on the characters, because this is primarily a plot driven story. As much as I liked and disliked some characters, for me the plot is what makes this book so good.
Parasite is quite a slow paced novel, except for a few key scenes that make this book as good as it is.
I would definitely recommend this novel for anybody who loves a good zombie novel, or a slow building horror.
Have you read Parasite? What did you think of it? If you haven't read it yet, are you thinking of getting of it?