Parasite by Mira Grant


Science FictionSuspenseParasite by Mira Grant Parasite
Mira Grant; Orbit 2013

Genetics research promises new solutions to diseases and chronic conditions. SymboGen started working with genetically altered parasites in the second decade of the 21st century. Now, in the 2020’s, the Intestinal Bodyguard (TM) is implanted in millions around the world. It is a tapeworm genetically engineered to live in a person’s small intestines and handle all health needs – keeping insulin levels correct in diabetics, fighting off flus and colds, keeping a heart healthy, providing birth control – the uses are almost endless. The pharmaceutical industry is practically wiped out. Not everyone agrees to have the implanted tape worm, but most do.

Sal Mitchell crashed her automobile in an head on accident six years ago. She should have died. When her parents were about to take her off life support, she woke up. Her Intestinal Bodyguard (TM) tapeworm had kept her alive and restored her physical body. But her memory of her life before the accident is completely gone. She had to start all over again, from learning to walk and talk to reading to being aware of social niceties. SymboGen has paid all her medical bills and have studied her from the time she woke up. She spent the first couple years in their labs as she relearned how to live. Now she lives with her parents, dates a doctor from the local hospital in San Francisco, and works at a pet shelter. She sees a SymboGen psychiatrist regularly and goes in for complete medical screenings twice a year.

Her father is the head of the local government medical facility doing research on medical advancements of the local biotech and medical research companies around San Francisco. Her sister Joyce is a civilian working at her father’s center. Nathan Kim, the man Sal is dating, is a parasitologist at the hospital. Except for the pet shelter, Sal’s world is surrounded by medical researchers. She met Nathan while in the hospital for testing and they ran into each other. She had never been his patient – they are both quick to point that out when people talk about how her worm kept her alive. Sal Mitchell is a medical miracle.

While out shopping at the mall, Sal and her sister see two people “disappear” behind their faces. Their bodies become zombie-like, following some order the bodies understand when the mind appears to be gone. Joyce panics, dragging Sal home, then rushing into her lab. There is some sort of “sleeping sickness” spreading but it has been kept quiet by the authorities. When someone Sal knows is killed by one of the patients, she knows it is worse than anyone realizes. No one is saying anything. Nathan works with the patients at the hospital because it appears to be a parasite the worm doesn’t affect.

When Sal is attacked at her own home, things get worse. She and Nathan follow some clues that have been passed to her. News of the sleeping sickness is getting out. Is there anything Sal can do to help isolate the problem so a cure can be found?

Parasite is one of the Hugo nominated novels for 2014. Mira Grant’s chilling medical thriller shows what can happen when medical science, greed, and man’s desire for an easy cure all come together.

The first person narrative is captivating as Sal shows her life six years after her rebirth. She isn’t Sally Mitchell, the woman who drove her car into the accident, but Sal, a different personality born when she regained her consciousness. In Parasite she reveals her frustrations as well as her triumphs and her confusion as well as her learning. She’s not sure if there is anyone she can trust.

By the middle of Parasite it is obvious where it is going in Sally’s life. The reader shouldn’t be surprised at what  is revealed at the end. That detracts from the novel as the reader waits for it. But Grant winds in the conspiracies  and cover ups, the romances and the friendships, the families and the foes who all can affect Sal’s life and humanity’s future.

Parasite is an absorbing medical suspense that has another book or two to follow in order to know the final outcome.

Notice: Graphic violence, Non-graphic violence, Strong language, Suggestive dialogue or situations

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