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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2013)
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.

504 pages, Hardcover

First published October 29, 2013

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About the author

Mira Grant

56 books5,289 followers
Mira also writes as Seanan McGuire.

Born and raised in Northern California, Mira Grant has made a lifelong study of horror movies, horrible viruses, and the inevitable threat of the living dead. In college, she was voted Most Likely to Summon Something Horrible in the Cornfield, and was a founding member of the Horror Movie Sleep-Away Survival Camp, where her record for time survived in the Swamp Cannibals scenario remains unchallenged.

Mira lives in a crumbling farmhouse with an assortment of cats, horror movies, comics, and books about horrible diseases. When not writing, she splits her time between travel, auditing college virology courses, and watching more horror movies than is strictly good for you. Favorite vacation spots include Seattle, London, and a large haunted corn maze just outside of Huntsville, Alabama.

Mira sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests that you do the same.

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Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
February 27, 2019

i'm calling it now - this is the year of the tapeworm.

seriously, TWO tapeworm novels in just a matter of months?? i am on a roll, boy howdy.

and as cool as tapewormy horror novels are, i was going to read this no matter what it was about, because i love mira grant.

greg got to this before i did, even though my desire for it was so great, so while he was reading it, i kept grilling him for feedback, and he was having a sort of tepid response to it. and when i finally started it myself, at first i was puzzled and scoldy: "why didn't you love this? this is great! this is everything a mira grant book should be!"

it felt like a return home

but as i got further along, i had to admit that on every level, it is a lesser version of the glory that is the newsflesh trilogy. the characters are a little less sparkling, the science a little more dubious, there are some problems with her broadcasting situations that should have been surprising when revealed…

but honestly, the newsflesh trilogy took a little while to work its magic on me, so i have really high hopes for the rest of this series - i want to know where this is going.

with this book, we are asked to rally behind sal - a young woman who has, essentially, only been alive for six years. after a devastating car accident, she was diagnosed as irreparably brain dead, and was about to have her plug pulled when she suddenly woke up with absolutely no memory of her life before the hospital. physically, she is 26, but she has had to reacquaint herself with her family, learn how to read, and basically figure out how to become human all over again.

this isn't always convincing - she seems to have picked up too much too quickly, has too much cleverness about her, and has even managed to land a boyfriend (reader crush alert!). she has way more conviction and strength than is realistic for someone who has only been alive for six years, and for someone who has been closely monitored and prodded the whole time, without getting much real-world experience. she has more personality than you would expect, and it is frequently an irritating one, but it is one of those "go with it" situations, and she grows on you. she does.

meanwhile, in the science portion of this book, the pharmaceutical industry is a thing of the past. most of the world's population, including sal, have been implanted with genetically modified tapeworms which inhabit their human hosts and fix every imaginable ailment: allergies, diabetes, cancer - all are things of the past as the little tapeworms absorb and recalibrate and fix what ails ya. they are kind of like those contraceptive implants, only more ambitious. oh and birth control?? yeah, they do that, too.

and it's all wonderful - no more pesky pills or injections, and the savings!

"They represent millions of dollars saved in pharmacological costs annually. That doesn't even take into account the savings they naturally cause in the areas of preventative medicine and allergy control. They've changed the face of medicine."

but now, those tapeworms appear to be responsible for an epidemic that has started causing people to go into a sleepwalking mode, and become erratic and violent. sal, with her status as human oddity/guinea pig to the symbogen corporation - the tapeworm pioneers taking credit for her miraculous recovery, her parasitologist boyfriend, and her scientist-father and -sister, is in a unique position to get to the bottom of the epidemic. but as she learns:

If you ask the questions, best be sure you want to know.

this may not be as satisfying as newsflesh, but it is still the warm bath of a mira grant book - it is instantly recognizable and comforting. all the newsflesh tricks are there: each chapter opens with a quote from a major player in the scientific community responsible for the outbreak and it all has that special mira grant plausibility to it, and once the "wait, tapeworms?? intentionally inside me??" has passed, you are grudgingly swept up in her measured and detailed explanations.

also, it has that mira grant humor i like:

"The lab is not prepared for civilian visitors. They'll be ready for us shortly."

"Do you mean 'not prepared' like 'they need to clean up,' or 'not prepared' like someone dropped a vial and now it's all melting flesh and screaming'?" I asked. I wasn't sure I wanted to know the answer. I wasn't sure I'd ever sleep again if I didn't know the answer.

it also has that tricky-to-pull-off idea that there aren't good guys and bad guys, just better or worse guys.

"No one has only your best interests at heart. Not me, not your parents…and not Whether you've met her or not, you should keep that in mind for when she does manage to catch up to you - and she is going to find you, Sally. She's not the good to my evil. She's not going to solve all of your problems with a wave of her hand and a cup of hot cocoa. You're smart enough to know better than that. People like us…we don't get easy answers like that."

it doesn't end on a cliffhanger. it ends on a realization that anyone with more than six years of living or reading will have seen coming, but there are still plenty of questions, and knowing mira grant, more characters to meet, grow fond of, and then watch die. good times. also, dogs and carnivorous plants.

and i really hope they publish the children's book referenced throughout - illustrated by someone who does the haunting-creepy well. maybe renee french?? i would buy it and treasure it.

a note on tansy. she was greg's favorite character, and i can see the appeal of a tiny cute sociopath-pixie who kills without blinking and says very odd socially-inappropriate things, but she hasn't grown on me just yet. but i'll get there.

i want more and i want it now.

come to my blog!
December 4, 2013
The trouble with writing believable science fiction in a contemporary or near-future setting is that the reader has to willingly suspend a great deal of disbelief. It's a familiar setting, so chances are not a lot of things have changed by then, scientific progress is advancing, things are evolving, but the book's setting and plot should be believable enough for the reader to think: holy shit, this could actually happen. This book was well-written from a fictional point of view, but for anyone with a remotely scientific background, who has ever taken a Microbiology 101 class, or with an amateur's understanding of how the FDA works...this book requires a lot of teeth-grinding to get through. The next two paragraphs will mostly deal with science and pharmacology-related ranting related to the book, repeat. Scientific ranting. You have been warned. Skip them if you want to get to the meat of the review dealing with the actual characters and plot.

I am not a scientist by trade, but I have a good enough understanding of science, pharmacology, and god knows I've taken way too many lab classes to be a willing skeptic when reading this book. I have to admit, Mira Grant did an excellent job with the scientific jargon in this novel. The lab write-ups, the sterility of the SymboGen environment, the constant exposure to a laboratory and hospital environment, and the italicized scientific names for the parasite species all serve to disguise the fact that it doesn't seem like she ever took an introductory lab class. The year is 2027; not so far from now. Unless the FDA approval process or standard lab procedures have drastically changed by then, I find this book to be lacking a lot of credibility. Within the first chapter, I groaned as we were given the description of a Ph.D doing research on a cadaver in her lab. She doesn't use gloves because as she stated, the species is inert and completely safe. No! No! NO! You always use gloves in the lab, particularly when you operate on a dead corpse. Animal, human. It doesn't matter! There is always a risk; blood, bodily fluid, bacteria, viruses. You never know when a lab species is dangerous; there is no such thing as complete safety. Gloving is not optional, EVER! A genius Ph.D scientist who doesn't follow elementary lab procedures? Stupid! Adherence to lab rules is a must, children!

I could not help thinking as I was reading this book that so much trouble could have been averted had the actual FDA process been followed. I mean, it's not a perfect process by any means, since there have been plenty of craptastic drugs released in the past resulting in horrifying fetal disfigurements, among many other terrible side effects. Since then, FDA regulations and the process of getting a drug approved have been much stricter; many, many trials on human subjects are absolutely required for a drug to be proven as safe for human use. It is an expensive, time-consuming procedures, running well past 10 years sometimes, and with a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Few drugs make it past the approval process, as little as 10%. Even then, the drug is not perfect. New side effects are constantly regulated and reported every day, and drugs are constantly monitored. SymboGen...gah! They got this parasite approved, tested, and implanted within millions of people within ten years?! MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. This is, as the CEO of SymboGen puts it, "universal health care." With all the hullabaloo going on about universal health care/AKA Obamacare these days regarding people not wanting regulation over their own health, does it really make sense that so many people are willing to get an implant within their body, when the implant is a parasite? It's supposed to be beneficial, sure. Plenty of things are beneficial, it doesn't mean people actually do them. Getting millions of people to put down the fucking donut is an impossibility in itself, but a parasite is a whole other matter. The thing is, parasites are a really icky thing for a lot of people. It's a primal fear of the unnatural. Humans prefer structure; worms, snakes, spiders, anything long and creepy and crawly and slimy lacking limbs or with excessive limbs are a turnoff. The thought of millions willing to go through this, so soon, stretches the imagination. The idea that the FDA would allow this extremely invasive parasitic implant to go on the market within such a short period of time, is highly dubitable.

Ok, end rant. Breathe...breathe...

The book itself, suspension of disbelief aside, is pretty damn good. I am generally not a fan of Mira Grant, but she's done it this time. This book was absorbing, informative, the narrative style took some getting used to, but ended up being extremely effective. The chapters are interspersed with narratives, slices of information, be it from a supposed "interview" or a news blurb, or even a poem or quote from a literary work that's somewhat related to the book's theme. It annoyed me at first, but the little bit of information ended up being very useful and enlightening regarding the plot as it unfolds.

In the future, parasites are a thing. They provide the essence of health care. Get a parasite implanted in you, and your health care needs are taken care of forever! You know those birth control implants? No need to take a pill every day? Well, these parasites do it ten times better. No need to take any kind of medicine again. Ever. They're like universal health care implant. Got a health issue? Your parasite will deal with it! The thing is...they're acting up. Suddenly, people with the implants are developing sleeping sickness...first, they fall asleep. They fall into a stupor. They shamble around (zombies!!!!!). Then...they become aggressive. It's like The Walking Dead becoming 28 Days Later. The premise is awesome, and the development of the plot is fantastic. It is very slow initially as we follow our main narrator, and I admit I lost my patience at times, but it develops considerably faster past the 30-40% mark. The twists and turns the plot took hit me like a pick-up truck. I think I'm pretty good at predicting where a story will go, and I thought this book was going to be predictable. I was wrong.

Our main character is Sally. She is, to put it kindly, a brat. Sally has forgotten who she is thanks to amnesia resulting from a severe car accident when she was, according to her sister, playing chicken with a bus. She may not remember who she was, and that may be a good thing. The previous Sally was frankly, a huge bitch. Actually, the new Sal is not much better. She may not be a bitch, but man is she annoying. She is 26, but acts like a teenager. Sal behaves like a willful child at times, rebelling against the authority figure, rebelling against SymboGen, while knowing that they held and still hold the key to her survival. She has a love/hate relationship with the corporation in the truest sense of the word. Her life is saved thanks to the transplant, and she is being medically covered in every way while under their protection, but she is also in their control; Sal feels more like a guinea pig than a functional human at times. I could sympathize with her on this, except she is just so whiny. She is a petulant, rebellious teenager. Her amnesia is quite total, she is barely functional, and had to relearn the English language. Sal has done surprisingly well since, but her mental development really seemed to have stopped at the age of fourteen. Thankfully, she does grow up through the course of the book, and ended up to be considerably more competent than for which I initially gave her credit.

I love the supporting characters, and how they're portrayed. There is a diverse cast, there are people who aren't white (gasp!), there are people who are gay, straight, and just experimenting. It is never a big deal, there's no underlying Message. It is a realistic portrayal of people that any of us could know in real life, and that's part of what made this book so believable, despite the scientific quirks.

It may or may not be the author's intent, but I see a lot of moral themes in this book. The greed of corporations, the power of pharmaceutical giants...and they are pretty damn powerful. There are a lot of moral debates and power plays where pharmaceuticals are involved; they are a major billion-dollar industry. Follow the money. It works every time. They have numerous lobbyists, and their methods of wooing doctors into prescribing their drugs are questionable at best. There's also the question of playing god. It's a theme in Frankenstein, and it's a theme in this book. It is playing god, what the scientists in this book have done, and it inevitably comes back to bite them in the ass. Just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean you should. It's on a microscopic scale, there is no splicing together of salvaged body part, it is more genomic splicing, but the results are no less devastating.

Overall, this was an enormously enjoyable read, considerably more well-written and better than the silly premise would have you believe. Highly recommended.

I received this book as an advanced review copy from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
531 reviews58.6k followers
March 8, 2018
Even though the ending was reeeaalllyyyyy obvious... this was a fun sci fi book to listen to. An interesting concept but a forgettable story.

I'm not planning on continuing the series simply because I don't really care to see where it goes or what happens to the characters!
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews334 followers
February 27, 2022
If you were offered the chance to prevent illness, boost your immune system — never worry about taking a pill again, would you do it? SymboGen Corporation is now offering the Intestinal Bodyguard in the distant future. A genetically engineered tapeworm custom fit to your body. Almost everyone has one. It is a medical breakthrough, a miracle. Some things are too good to be true. The tapeworms are not just tapeworms, and they are evolving. Who will win control of the host body when things start spinning out of control. Oh man, this book was excellent. I couldn't stop reading.

Profile Image for Kathylill .
162 reviews173 followers
November 2, 2013
In short, I didn't like it. I've had a hard time even finishing it. The outcome was predictable from the start, the novel lacked action and I just couldn’t relate to the main character.

The novel lacked action in first place. It’s a very long description of a 6 year old child waking up from a cocoon her family and friends have built around her. After suffering from extensive brain damage during a car accident Sal woke up without any memories. She doesn’t know who she is, doesn’t know how to speak, read or write, has forgotten everything she ever learned. The story starts 6 years later with her having a boyfriend and sexual relationship while still living under the surveillance of her parents and the company that fabricated the tapeworm and having weekly psychological therapy. Without giving to many spoilers away, but: This is just so unrealistic. A six year old child (at least regarding her psychological condition) is having a sexual relationship with a doctor specialized in Parasitology while her tapeworm is apparently responsible for saving her after the accident and nobody thinks this is weird?

Let’s forget the relationship and have a look at the rest of the story. We get to accompany Sal to a lot of therapist sessions, medical treatments and examinations and nobody in the last six years found out that her tapeworm no longer is there where it should be? All this fancy ultrasound gel sessions and examination gadgetry in the future and no one ever considers of looking in her intestinal area? I was awed, but not in a good way. One other thing had me really wondering. Did you ever have a car accident? I had one, and I remember it. For 6 months I had nightmares of driving and not being able to brake. But after all, I still drive my car. What I don’t understand: Sal can’t even remember her accident but she is so over the top when driving with people in a car: Listening to radio is taboo as well as being emotionally excited; people should have both hands on the steering wheel while driving and their eyes always on the street. Every person in this book is being characterized by his driving style. It really is annoying.
As much as I like apocalyptic novels about viruses that wiped out mankind this book didn’t do it for me.

With thanks to Netgalley for providing me with the ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Brandi.
329 reviews798 followers
November 2, 2013

Gave up at 37% because this was terrible.

It's because of my sick fascination with this type of thing that I bought this book instead of getting it from the library. I have a love/hate relationship with knowing about parasites, and other creepiness that can gross me out, so I expected to love this book on the merit that it would have me completely freaked out. Nope. BORING.

It was so obvious what was going on with her (though I admit I hadn't thought that for Sherman - I skimmed to the end once I was done with forcing myself to read it), but that was only part of my annoyance. She used some nice language but didn't know 'dork'?! The whole I-don't-know-slang-even-though-it's-been-six-years was a bunch of bullshit I thought.

I also didn't fully buy her fear of driving. She remembered absolutely nothing before waking up in the hospital, but somehow that fear manifested?

I didn't need the descriptors for dog behavior either (reading those bits made me think of a word count to meet), but beyond that I thought the writing itself was pretty dry and really fucking boring.

I've read Feed and actually liked it pretty well, even though I'm not a big zombie fan, but these two books feel as though they weren't even written by the same person. I'm going to assume this book is a "it's not you, it's me" issue though, but damn... I really wish I'd kept my $9.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,510 followers
August 30, 2013
I got fair satisfaction out of this medical thriller with elements of science fiction and psychological horror. I was aware of the buzz and fandom surrounding Grant’s Newsflesh Trilogy kicked off with “Feed” in 2010, but I avoided them because of my aversion to zombies. I figured I might do better with “Parasite” because it concerns a medical innovation that goes awry, and I love to see exposures of the evils of corporate greed.

The premise is that a bioengineered tapeworm is developed that confers immunity to a lot of human allergies and somehow maintains a balance of blood chemistry that prevents certain chronic diseases. In a setting of San Francisco in 2027, the majority of people have adopted the technology (the “Intestinal Bodyguard”) and made the SymboGen Corporation very rich.

Our first person narrator, Sally Mitchell, age 20, has had some kind of seizure while driving and has a terrible accident which leaves her brain dead. But she wakes from her coma, unfortunately with total amnesia. She becomes a pet project for SymboGen as a potential example of their product aiding in such a recovery. Six years after awakening, she still has no memory of the old Sally, but through therapy and support she has developed into a caring, thoughtful individual. She lives under the guardianship of her parents, works in an animal shelter, and enjoys a love relationship with a doctor, Nathan. She has a lot of nightmares and anxiety attacks, but otherwise cuts an empathetic figure in her courage, humor, and resistance to agendas placed on her by SymboGen, her parents, or her boyfriend.

In the prologue to the book, we get a preview of the horrors that slowly build as the story procedes. We are presented a scene of her at home alone with some neighbors appearing disheveled in her yard. One man has eyes that were:
totally empty of anything resembling humanity or life. Dead eyes. He looked at me like a man who had crawled out of his own grave.

So we are set up to expect a lot of scary scenarios (no, they are not zombies), and one can’t escape the presumption that SymboGen has something to do with it. But the narrative is a bit slow to get there for me. Maybe I’ve read too many Crichton thrillers, which are so effective at keeping the tension building. Yes, Grant does better at developing her characters, but as a more colorful bit character concludes later in the book, Sally is “a poster child for dull”. Also a bit disappointing, as science fiction the advanced capabilities engineered into the tapeworm involved a bit too much hand-waving for my taste. But then again, others might consider more efforts at scientific plausibility to be a drag to the story. Some of the drag I experienced in the tale relates to the novel being a set-up for a series. As a common practice I don’t appreciate, big surprises and thrills placed near the end leave you hanging for the next book to resolve.

This book was made available through Netgalley (publication date expected Oct. 29, 2013).
Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,115 followers
July 7, 2013


This is what Parasite by Mira Grant made me feel:

* It made me want to go on youtube to look for videos of carnivorous plants. Needless to say, I stumbled upon the weird part of that crazy site again. CANNOT UNSEE WHAT HAS BEEN SEEN.
* It made me fucking scared of elongated little buggers who may just have the capability to enter your body and stay there... FOREVER.
* It made me want to sit in my little corner and rock myself until the end of time.
* It made me want to put protective gear... IN MY SKULL.
* It made me want to die now before I feel nature's wrath upon us.
* Basically...

This book is both disgusting and fascinating, both disturbing and engaging. I've never read anything by Mira Grant before, but holy hell! I'll surely buy her books from now on! This one was mad crazy good! I mean, sure, I blame the sudden appearance of my fears of parasites/worms/carnivorous plants or whatever thingies on this author, but to be honest, I regret nothing.

Here we have Sal who's had an accident, and thanks to a tapeworm installed inside her body, she finally got the chance to live again. When she woke up from her vegetable state, she remembered nothing - not even her language, the name of her parents, absolutely nada - and had to start at zero. 6 years later, she's finally better and is a contributing member of society. Yeah, she still gets therapy sessions and medical check ups at SymboGen, the institution who helped her live again, and is still guarded by her parents day in and day out, but at least she's living. Then suddenly, people are transforming. There's a sickness going around where people suddenly stop being themselves and become empty, lifeless shells moving about. SCARY EH?!

For the first 40 or so percent, we're left in the dark about almost everything. It was very slow, and it gave us an overview of Sal's life and her relationships with other people. But honestly, I didn't mind it very much because it made me understand what the heroine was going through, and the hardships she was facing. Grant really has this uncanny ability to make these fictional people feel so real and genuine; nothing sounded forced or unnatural at all. You can feel Sal's frustration and insecurities overflowing from the pages, while also sensing the tension escalating all around. There were small scenes here and there, but you can totally feel the eerie atmosphere building up as you put the pieces of the puzzle together.

And then everything went loose after 50%, where you get your answers and some shocking plot twists that I didn't see coming. I swear, at exactly 52%, my jaw dropped to the ground, with my mind going WTF WTF WTF?!?!?! It's that intense and gripping, dude. I have no other words. Sure, there were a lot of scientific terms dropped here and there, and I'm no zoologist, virologist, or heck, I'm not even that good at science, but I still enjoyed reading all about them. DO NOT GOOGLE THE TERMS PLEASE. THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!! It becomes incredibly fast-paced, with lots of creepy and heated scenes with the heroine against the "sleepwalkers", against her family, and against the corporation that installed the tapeworm inside her and everyone else. At the last page, I was like this:

Also, there's some good character development here, too, with regards to the heroine. At the beginning, I didn't really like her that much (although I understood her) because she came across as too whiny, and too forceful with her feelings of rebellion against.. well.. everyone else! And the fact that she kept on saying she didn't know what to do, she didn't know what else to do, when the answers were kinda obvious... BUT!! She matures in the end, and I really liked how she stopped whining and finally did something for herself. You go, girl! You need to respect and love yourself more!

All in all, it was a fricking awesome read. I can't wait to read Book 2 and Mira Grant now officially joins the ranks of other authors in my to-watch-for-future-novels list. This book is hauntingly compelling and amazingly creepy. It gives a lot of food for thought when it comes to biotechnology and bioengineering. It sure taught me that not all progress is good progress! I sure hope the sequel is along the way!

Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,163 followers
January 3, 2018
First off.. ewwwwwww! Parasites. Tapeworms. Gross. And, dangerous.

Secondly, this book is pretty boring until around page 130ish. Then, it gets really good.

Sally was in a horrible car accident and was brain dead after being in a coma for ages. Luckily, the world has come up with an amazing new health plan that saves mankind from almost every kind of sickness or malady. It's a tapeworm, of course, but don't worry because this is a friendly tapeworm that lives in your body to protect and serve you.

Like a disgusting slimy police-worm. He is there to eat all of the bad chemicals, bacteria, allergens, or viruses that enter your body so that you stay healthy. So, maybe more like a creepy crawly bouncer.

Apparently, in the near future, just ten years or so from now, we are all going to be willing to swallow these tapeworms, without even being on a reality show and being paid to do it. Somehow, I find that hard to swallow, much like I would find it hard - no - impossible to willingly swallow a tapeworm. The book was still good, though. Not for a person with too weak of a stomach!
Profile Image for Kristalia .
383 reviews612 followers
October 5, 2015
Final rating: 4.5/5 stars

“No one wants to set out to be a hero, and discover that they've been a villain all along.”

Mira Grant is amazing woman & writer. First, she captured my attention with Newsflesh, the series worth all the hype - and also - it was a series that i will never forget and the one that i reread already. What i wanted to say, given how much i loved her previous series, i had high expectations of this series as well.

We all want things that can never happen, and even when we know they’re not going to become reality, we keep on wanting them.

First of all, this series has a really interesting (and really my-stomach-doesnt-like-this-so-much) idea, where every sickness was healed. It was promising and Mira Grant delivered it spectacularly - except for some really predictive moments which i saw coming from... the beginning actually (which is why i gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5, and also maybe because it wasn't as shocking as Newsflesh's Feed - which was SO DAMN SHOCKING IT HURT).



In 2027, medicine on Earth advanced on a level that healed humans of every sickness . So let me start from the begining. Once upon a time, there was a trio of scientist who wanted to change the world - so no one ever gets sick again. Their company was called SymboGen , and they developed a nice solution for all of their problems - a genetically modified parasite typeworm.

After the successful demonstration on Sally Mitchell, the girl who "died" because of brain damage, and who miraculously survived it - almost everyone decided to have the " Intestinal Bodyguard " implanted in them. But... they are not just parasites...




Sally Mitchell died in June, 2021 when she was 20 years old. She died the moment she ended in a car crash. But instead of being dead - she found herself pretty much alive. But there was something that went wrong: she ended up with amnesia, literally wiped out of all memories she had - how to be human, how to speak, to read. SymboGen's tapeworm,which was implanted in her before, healed her. Because it was unusual that she survived such a giant accident, SymboGen offered treatment, but also to do some "examination" when they needed too.

Six years later, Sally Mitchel is a completely different person than she was before: now she is calmer, nicer person and it confuses all who knew her before. But the fact is, she doesn't want her old memories back. Especially since she has a boyfriend who cares about her as she is now. But, living a new life is as a big challenge as is the fact that she may know what is happening, even though she is not yet aware of it.

-- Sally was really likeable character, i loved her curiosity, her thinking - i just liked her,okay?


Nathan Kim is a doctor, a parasitologist, who met Sally in a hospital. But despite being parasitologist, he refuses to have anything with parasite that SymboGen offers. He supports Sally and really loves her, and he tries to help her, in any way possible.

-- Not much is revealed about him at the moment, but knowing Mira Grant, she may put some chapters from his POV (*i pray for that to happen*). He is mysterious, but really lovely character and i really loved everytime he appeared in the book.

Other characters:

I really loved Tansy , of which i will not speak anything else, since it would be a spoiler, but i especially loved her crazyness and her sense of humor. Adam was interesting as well and i wish to learn more about him in the coming books. I don't know how i feel about Sally's parents but generally, i did not like them. Either they were too supportive or too controlling and i understand Sally and her decisions because of that. All in all, secondary characters were quite interesting.


It was hard getting into the story first, but i decided to push it on and see what will happen. Knowing Mira Grant because of her other books, this series may be quite unpredictable in the upcoming installments .

I really loved it and enjoyed it and i recommend it . Now, i shall painfully wait for other books to be published... *life is cruel mistress*

Over and out.

This review can be found on my blog: infinity-of-time.blogspot.com also known as...
Profile Image for Scarlet.
187 reviews1,159 followers
July 24, 2013
Wanna know the first thing I thought of when I read the blurb of Parasite?? Monsters Inside Me!! That frightening, super-gruesome documentary that can kill your appetite or make you throw up, depending on when you watch it, if at all. And tapeworms!! I remember there was an episode where this girl went blind because tapeworms had eaten away her retina. Gross, I know, but it's real, people!

I mention this because it may have something to do with why this book fell flat. I was, quite simply, disillusioned. I went in expecting some freaky horror-show about parasitic tapeworms and while the idea was right there, the horror was not. Hardly one or two scenes stood out for their creepiness. The rest was bland and so much tamer than what Animal Planet had me expecting.

Parasite envisions a future where people can opt for genetically engineered tapeworm implants to oversee their health and thus do away with manual medication. SymboGen is the corporate giant behind these revolutionary tapeworms and when a nearly-dead Sally wakes up from a coma, SymboGen claims the tapeworm implant saved her life. Sally, however, is a slate wiped clean. She remembers nothing. Six years later, Sally is still struggling to fit in with a family she doesn't remember, even as she's unwittingly becoming the poster-child for SymboGen.

The first 40 percent of this book is all talk and no action. Okay, there's some action but that is like a tiny island in a sea of dialogue. Mostly, we get to follow Sally around and hear her talk. Sally talking to her father. Sally talking to her boyfriend. Sally talking to the staff at SymboGen. Sally talking to the co-founder of SymboGen. A lot of these conversations are meaningless jibber-jabber. They are also very boring, since Sally is not particularly witty.

There's a big brain-bending revelation around the 50% mark, which is where the book truly shines. There's another big revelation that you can logically infer from the first one, even if you are no genius. Except, it takes Sally the rest of the book to arrive at that conclusion. Yeah, she's not particularly bright either.

Actually, I'm not sure what to say about Sally. I'm just going to quote what one of the other, more interesting characters had to say about her:

"She's annoying, she's whiny, she has the learning curve of lichen."

Yeah, that sums it up. Except I feel guilty because the poor girl has amnesia.

Also, many events in this book are hinged on happy coincidences. Sally's sister is a scientist, so is her father and so is her boyfriend. There are other things too, that I cannot delve into without giving away spoilers.

VERDICT: Parasite could have been shorter and scarier. A great idea like that should have resulted in a great book, but the extraneous stuff got in the way. Overall, Parasite was just okay. And it definitely did not scare me.

If you are looking for parasites of the scary kind, watch the Animal Planet documentary. Provided you can stomach it, of course.

*With thanks to Netgalley for a free digital copy*
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,864 reviews370 followers
September 27, 2019
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 of Frankenstein, 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 book Into the Drowning Deep with it’s dark twist on mermaids. I have her Newsflesh 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 to Parasite.
Profile Image for Alina.
757 reviews254 followers
February 7, 2020
* Plot: 4★
* World building: 3.5★
* Characters: 3.5★
* Language/Humour/Witticism: 3.5★
* Enjoyability: 4★

Little boy with faith so thin,
Little girl so strong within,
I said I’d never leave you, and I’m sorry, but I lied.
If you’re set to pay the price,
Learn the ways of sacrifice,
Leave this world to grieve you, take a breath, and step outside.

The broken doors are waiting, down the path you’ve always known.
My darling ones, be careful now, and don’t go out alone.

Shadows dancing all around;
Some things better lost than found.
If you ask the questions, best be sure you want to know.
Some things better left forgot,
Some dreams better left unsought.
Knowing the direction doesn’t mean you have to go.

The broken doors can open if you seek them on your own.
My darling boy, be careful now, and don’t go out alone.

Lies are truth in tattered clothes,
At least that’s how the story goes.
Once you’ve found the keyhole, then you’ll need to find the key.
Don’t be scared of what’s to come, Don’t forget the place you’re from.
Take your time. Remember, you’ll be coming back to me.

The broken doors are open - come and enter and be home.
My darling girl, be careful now, and don’t go put alone.

Walk the way you think is best,
Solve the riddles, pass the test.
Try to keep your balance when you think all else is lost.
Give it time, but not too much,
Give it space, but keep in touch.
Once you’re past the boarders, then you’ll have to pay the cost.

The broken doors are waiting, strong and patient as the stone.
My darling boy, be careful now, and don’t go out alone.

Find the key that knows the lock,
Find the root that knows the rock,
Find the things you’re seeking in the place you fear to look.
Promise me that you’ll take care,
You’ll show caution, you’ll beware.
There are many dangers in the pages of this book.

The broken doors are waiting. You are stronger than you’ve known.
My darling girl, be careful now, and don’t go out alone.

Certain lines can’t be uncrossed,
Certain maps will get you lost,
Once you’re past the border, then you’ll have to play the game.
Roll the dice but count the cards,
Break the glass but keep the shards.
The world is out of order. It’s been broken since you came.

The broken doors are hidden in the blood and in the bone.
My darling child, be careful now, and don’t go out alone.

Love me once to lose me twice;
Learn to take your own advice.
Try to love the darkness if you want to reach the light.
Know your quest but leave your name.
I will love you all the same.
There’s beauty in the starkness of this never-ending night.

The broken doors are open, and they yearn to bring you home.
My darling boy, be careful now, and don’t go out alone.

Excerpts from fictional work DON’T GO OUT ALONE by Simone Kimberley
(published 2006 by LightHouse Press; currently out of print)
Profile Image for Rose.
182 reviews78 followers
August 9, 2013
I don't know where to start with this review. I only know that I need to start it now because I have this weird thing that keeps me from starting a new book before I've written a review for the book I've read before. And I really just want to start reading a book now and forget about the snooze fest that was Parasite.

I've read Mira Grant's Feed a few months ago and wasn't a fan. It was one of those huge tomes where you wonder: why did I put myself through this and waste my time? I didn't hate it but it bored me to death because I just felt meh about everything that was happening. The narrative style was dry (pff, why let the main character show any kind of emotion during a zombie apocalypse?), there was a lot of info-dumping and a whole lot of political stuff going on that I just couldn't have cared less about. Everyone talking about a heartbreaking ending made me curious, which is why I pushed myself through almost 600 pages. What for? An even more indifferent reaction than to anything else I've felt for that book thus far.

Anyway, while reading Parasite I came to realize that Mira Grant's work just isn't my cup of tea. I love me an occasional plot-driven book but that doesn't mean that I want the book to be filled with one-dimensional characters, a whole lot of info-dumping of science stuff that is close to making me fall asleep, which is why I just don't care about the plot. While the narration style in Parasite differs from the one in Feed, it still reminded me heavily of Feed. I felt no connection to any of the characters, even if here they at least showed some kind of emotions. I didn't care for this world we're introduced to, where humans can have tapeworms implanted that will secure their health. The concept sounded interesting at first and I was looking forward to—next to giving Grant another chance—exploring this world where something like that is possible.

But for me, Parasite had nothing interesting to offer. Probably that's only going to be me (after all, I was one of the very few people who just didn't get what was so great about Feed) but I just don't see the charm in this.

I saw the plot twists coming a mile away, there was nothing that kept me glued to the pages and I'm usually one that eats things like this up. I may not know a lot about science but if a book offers me the chance to learn more about certain topics, I'm all up for it. I just don't like the kind of books that think it's necessary to have endless of pages of science talk that I don't understand and thus don't care about. Considering that there's nothing in the story I can connect to, I might as well read my school text books from back to back then.

All I can say is that I came to realize Mira Grant's work isn't my cup of tea. A whole lot of info-dumping, nothing that makes me care in any way for the characters and because the two things are already making my reading experience a chore as it is, I don't care for the plot either. The ending made me curious about how Grant is going to continue the series but I'd have to read glowing reviews to even start thinking about reading the sequels myself instead of letting someone spoil me.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,975 followers
August 21, 2015
This was more than a well-crafted suspense novel. The world-building was very reinforced, perhaps too-much so in one direction, but the effect was pleasing. Snippets of interviews and the children's book sufficed to creep me out consistently. As for the main character, I was generally just fine with the idea that she was a six year old in a 26 year old body for a very good reason. She was super naive. That's fine for a character, but it did give the readers a bit of breathing space. Omniscient view means less surprise, but that's okay when you're setting up a much larger scene for the next novels.

The novel tries to be several things at once, and that's always a hard task, but I think it succeeds wonderfully. Suspenseful science fiction with a twist that was only surprising to the main character. I think it was intentional. The idea was telegraphed dozens of times, after all, and it gave the feeling of absolute inevitability. The novel couldn't have gone anywhere else in the mind of the reader, and I'm great with that. It hammered the nail in the coffin.

I might be sounding a little bit like I didn't enjoy the novel by the way I'm not gushing over it, but the truth is very different. I loved it. It had the big reveal with the lead-in for much bigger things to come, and that's always satisfying. Knowing the author's style, I can expect a much more fantastic rabbit trick in the next novels, and I have faith that she will pull it off with panache.

If I'm at all subdued in the review, it's because the tension has not been relieved in the slightest. I'm still in the novel and unable to move on.

That's a good thing, right?

Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews127k followers
September 2, 2016
Humans have discovered a way to eliminate all illness through the use of genetically modified tapeworms until *spoiler!* people realize that this is not a good idea. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for in my dystopian fiction – suspense, high-level secrets, great characters without the romantic drama YA fiction, compelling writing, and just a touch of horror. It’s first in a trilogy, and I’m really excited to read the next two books!

— Katie McLain

from The Best Books We Read In August 2016: http://bookriot.com/2016/08/01/riot-r...
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,954 followers
October 21, 2013
One confused dog.
A woman without her memory.
And a whole lot of bugs.

I'm fighting off the urge to quote Samuel L. Jackson. The infamous Snakes on a Plane quote kept running through my head while reading this book, except swapped out with the word "worms" instead of "snakes." There weren't actually any parasites on a plane though (even though there were a lot of them), so I am refraining.

So, Parasite...it's kind of like The Host, except with a believable breakdown and a more polished writing style. Yes, I know that parasites and aliens aren't exactly the same thing, but the concept of a taking over a human body through a worm connecting to the brain gave me a few flashbacks, even if the story is completely different.

I have a thing for stories which keep me guessing about who is trustworthy, or if anyone is who they seem. Sometimes I over-think things and make mountains out of molehills, but it's still fun when you aren't always sure of who is telling the truth, and you spend your time coming up with theories in your head.

This is going to be a wild ride and I can't wait to see what's up next.

This book provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You can also find my review on Booklikes
Profile Image for Ellen Gail.
839 reviews377 followers
September 7, 2017

This review has been edited for content by SymboGen Corp. Please remember, your health is too important to trust to just anyone. We thank you for your understanding.

So, what can I say about Parasite, another winner from Mira Grant? Her Feed series will always have a special place in my heart. Feed was the first book I read in my new home. And it was such a joy to just sit in MY chair and read MY book in MY house and everything was quiet and perfect.

“Isn't that the justification used by every scientist who made something wonderful, only to discover that they've made something terrible? 'We did it for Science.”

Anyway, now that I'm past that tangent, lets talk Parasite. Who knew intestinal parasites could be so much fun! [SymboGen would like to add that the intestinal parasite can not only inject fun into your life, but health, vitality, and a worry-free lifestyle!]

Imagine a future where a genetically engineered tapeworm can guard your immune system, deliver your medications on time for you, fix problems in your body before you even have to notice them! SymboGen cornered the market with their Intestinal Bodyguard™ But people have started to sleepwalk, the kind of sleepwalking where they don't wake up, sometimes even becoming violent during it. Surely this couldn't be connected to these tapeworms implanted in so many people. Could it? [SymboGen's legal team would like to remind readers that ZERO of these allegations can be proven and they are blatantly false. The Intestinal Bodyguard™ is completely safe. And those who continue to spread false rumors of "sleepwalking sickness" in connection with SymboGen will face legal action.]

Sally, who prefers to go by Sal, woke up after a car accident that should have left her brain dead. With no memories, with no skills at all really, she was basically a 20something infant. SymboGen takes a special interest in her, even six years after her accident, when Sal has managed to build her mind and life from scratch. After all, her parasite saved her life, a total miracle. One that SymboGen wants to watch VERY closely. [SymboGen will not discuss any details relating to Sally "Sal" Mitchell or our involvement with the subject.]

So I LOVED this. I expected to like it, I mean, I really never go into a book thinking, "Boy, I'm sure going to hate this!" But this was fantastic! The dog Beverly is amazing. I love when fictional pets have a place and a purpose in the story, and Beverly is the perfect dog. I wish I could pet her. This is what my life is now, wanting to pet fictional animals.

And the plot! What fun! The side characters were all so well developed, every last one. Because it's been a month since I've read this, I'm blanking on some of their names. But that's NOT the book's fault, or a mark against it. In fact, I can still remember specific scenes and characters. I'm just total shit at names.

I won't say anything else about this because I have nothing to complain about! Almost DAILY stuff gets on my nerves, but nothing in Parasite annoyed me! And there are a lot of happy surprises in the plot, even if you figure some of them out ahead of time, it's a fun ride to get there.

[SymboGen would like to remind readers that if they choose to read Parasite, please keep in mind the highly biased perspective towards what has continually been proven a safe and effective medical revolution, as well as our company in general. SymboGen Corp. has never been convicted of any wrongdoing. And we never will be.]

5 stars and I've got the sequel on hand and ready to go any day now!

PS: sorry it took me a month to write this. Great things come to those who wait. :)

Also, I am lazy.

Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,890 followers
October 27, 2013
4.5 stars
The first thing you need to know about Parasite is that it is not Feed. If you expect the emotional impact of Seanan McGuire’s debut as Mira Grant, you will be sorely disappointed. Feed is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of book and it’s unlikely that Seanan will ever repeat it.

The second thing you need to know about Parasite is that it’s brilliant nevertheless. This is Mira Grant after all, so if sci-fi medical thrillers are your thing, very few authors write it better than she does. For me, the point of these medical thrillers is to convince the reader that what they describe is possible. The amount of research Grant puts into her books and the way she presents her “facts” pretty much guarantee that her visions of the apocalypse will be accepted as probabilities.

In many ways, for me, reading Parasite was similar to what I imagine an out of body experience would be like. It was virtually impossible to read a book written by the same author and similarly structured as my favorite book in the world and not make constant comparisons. However, while it quickly became clear that Sal is no Georgia Mason, it also became clear that I was going to like her for who she was. Sal cowers occasionally, she tends to scream at most unfortunate moments and she even faints here and there (I simply can’t imagine George fainting or screaming), but she has a backbone of steel that becomes evident when it’s most needed.

Mostly, I have lived my life for this past decade and a half simply hoping that I would still be alive when the judgment day arrived. After all, what’s the point of helping to create an apocalypse if you’re not going to be around to see it?

Is it just me or should allowing tapeworms to grow in your stomach be frowned upon in normal society? Even if those tapeworms are in many ways beneficial? On the other hand, when I stop to think about it, who said that the words ‘normal society’ apply to us? And just how far can our boundaries be pushed, with the right marketing campaign?

There were reports, but they were all proven to be false, and gradually, the ad campaign was phased out, leaving the world sold not once, but twice, on the idea that a worm was a solution to all their problems.

Oddly, the reason for sparks of disbelief that occasionally ignited within me had nothing to do with the medical part of this book and everything to do with the people around Sal. It seemed all too convenient that such a medical miracle would happen to the daughter of a Colonel at USAMRIID, in charge of figuring out the sleepwalking sickness. It was even more convenient that she ended up dating a parasitologist like Nathan, with his family background. While Grant did her best to explain all these things, I didn’t feel that those explanations were entirely satisfactory.

Be that as it may, there remains the fact that Parasite is the work of a brilliant author and that it is not to be missed. If you can handle a tapeworm here and there, run out and get your copy right now.

Profile Image for Justine.
1,134 reviews309 followers
August 6, 2016
3.5 stars

Parasite is a near future thriller that imagines a world where personal health care is essentially managed by individuals ingesting specially bioengineered tapeworms. Well, of course, that completely backfires in the worst way one can imagine as the tapeworms become self-aware and try to take over their hosts.

For the most part I quite enjoyed this book. The story was definitely creepy, and I thought the characters were interesting enough, if not overly complex. However, I also thought the story dragged a bit in parts and that's where it lost a bit on the rating for me. It is also very much "part 1" of a larger story, rather than sitting comfortably on its own. Honestly, I don't think any novel should end with the words "to be continued."

Overall, though, I liked it and want continue the series and see what happens. It can't be good for everyone to have those things inside them.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
October 19, 2015

Mira Grant is a fantastic writer, and why I hadn't read her before I do not know. Parasite reminded me of Sara's Face by Melvin Burgess with the video transcripts and the excerpts from literary sources.

This book freaked me out, it made me squirm, it made me think. It made me stop and think. I didn't need convincing about the overuse of anti-biotics and biocides and how the sterilisation of our environment is bad. I already knew that. But now I'm just going to go ahead and chuck out every nasty cleaning product in the cupboard. Boiling water, lemon juice, vinegar and sodium bicarbonate will do for me.

And then I'm going to go out and get some anti-parasitic shit for me and my family and my dogs and my neighbours cat. And I'll probably hand them out to everyone I meet.

The story builds slowly. You really get to know the characters. Sal isn't my favourite character in the whole wide world, but there is a reason she is how she is. I love the different paces - it's not all super fast, there are more mellow spots too.

There is a thread of mystery all through the story but it's been pushed aside often by Sal in favour of something more important (to her) and the fact that she doesn't want to deal with it. I love when characters direct the plot.

That ending was something else. This book kept me hooked right until the end. And I thought I had everything worked out and I knew what was going to happen, but it was still shocking, so shocking. I just sat at the end, gazing down at my kindle, wanting to read more yet knowing I wouldn't be able to handle it, not right away.

Sometimes humanity is the reason we can't have nice things.

I received a copy of this for free via NetGalley for review purposes.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,855 reviews846 followers
May 23, 2014
I was looking forward to this story, but unfortunately it just didn't work for me. Instead of feeling horror at events described (which I think is what the author was going for) I was just bored. Probably doesn't help that there's frequent info dumping in between actual plot progression.

Also, the story felt very similar to the Feed/Newsflesh series which I liked overall, but not enough to read/listen to another 500+ pages worth. I had just read *listened* to the Newsflesh series over the last two months, so maybe the close time between reads made the similarities stand out more to me. Others may not have the same issue.

I'm not going to rate this because even though I did read 85 pages that's still only 17% of this book.

A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stepheny.
381 reviews542 followers
July 24, 2018
I am not a fan of bugs. I don’t freak out about them, I just avoid them if I can-barring two exceptions. But I am fairly certain that if a doctor told me I had a parasite I would die. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic. I’d probably throw up and pass out. I’m a total champ, I know. The idea of having a bug inside me is enough to send me over the edge!!

This book is about that. Only worse. People are voluntarily putting parasites in their bodies. Why? WHY the fuck would anyone do this? Probably the same reason people willingly eat tapeworms. *vomits all over keyboard at the mere thought*

Ok, now that I’ve got that cleaned up….where was I?

Oh yes. Welcome to a world where people give themselves parasites. These parasites act as body guards. Quite literally too. They protect your body against all sorts of things, heal you, kill things that will harm you etc.

Still, this is something that gets added to my ever-growing Big Bag of NOPE.

I say this, but if it could cure cancer? Repair brain damage? Who am I to say what I would or wouldn’t do to save my own life?

It’s definitely an interesting concept. The characters are interesting, and the storyline was intriguing. The bombshell at the end I was expecting…but can see why it was necessary to continue the series. I’m disappointed Overdrive doesn’t have the rest of the series. But I’ll get around to the rest of them eventually. This was the perfect combination of horror and sci-fi for me!

And a couple of last minute thoughts: I'm not sure why Goodreads is indicating that I've read this book twice. I have not. I've only read it once. Also, the audio was really well done!!
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,032 reviews2,604 followers
November 25, 2013
2.5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...

Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire has wowed me before with her work, more specifically, with the book Feed in her Newsflesh Trilogy. I confess my deep love for zombie goodness, which is why I was so excited when I got my hands on Parasite, her new novel that appears to contain similar horror/thriller themes. Due to several factors, though, it turned out that wasn't able to get on board with this one as much as I'd hoped, but I did very much like the subject. Tapeworms, how deliciously creepy!

The book takes place about a decade into the future, where medical science has taken a great leap forward with the development of a genetically engineered tapeworm. Brilliant scientists at SymboGen Corporation have figured out a way to modify this parasite so that it would live in mutualistic symbiosis with humans. Our bodies give the tapeworm a place to live, and in turn it boosts our immune systems, secretes drugs and medications, protects us from illnesses, allergies, and all that good stuff. Within years, almost everyone on earth has one of these implants living within them.

We are then introduced to Sally Mitchell, our main character who woke up six years ago after being diagnosed as brain dead following a horrific car accident. Her recovery has not been complete, however. Despite being a young woman on the outside, Sally/Sal has in essence only been alive for six years because she cannot remember anything of her life prior to her accident. She woke up a complete blank slate, and had to relearn everything like language, social behaviors, and even basic things like how to eat. Nevertheless, SymboGen touts her as a miracle, crediting their tapeworm implant for preserving her life.

Sticking things into our bodies that don't belong there has never turned out well in these kinds of stories though, especially when they're parasites that scientists have tinkered with. Which brings me to my first thought -- that this book would have been better and more suspenseful if the science aspect had been stepped up a bit. On the one hand, being an avid reader of sci-fi and fantasy means that I am no stranger to suspending my disbelief; pretty much anything can go in this genre, as far as I'm concerned. However, there's also much to be said about authors who can use science to create nightmare scenarios that are so realistic that even their most outlandish ideas can seem convincing. Books like Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park or Timeline, for example, are fun to read for this reason. The research in them are at a level where I can actually entertain the thought of their stories being possible.

This wasn't something I could do with Parasite. Admittedly, I may have been a little over-critical of its premise because of my background in biology, but I think most readers with a basic knowledge of microbiology or genetics will also find some issues with this book. There are not a lot of explanations when it comes to the tapeworm, you just have to accept that things are the way they are. It's definitely not a deal-breaker, but not being able to picture this story as a realistic situation does lessen the suspense somewhat. But not unlike those crazy made-for-TV disaster movies you see on SyFy, Parasite is still a lot of fun.

Sal's character, however, was a whole other matter. I've said it before and I'll say it again: main protagonists are so important for me, and not being able to like them or connect with them makes it harder for me to enjoy a book. First of all, I found it hard to believe that Sal is at such a high level of proficiency when it comes to social behavior and language, considering she started from scratch only six years ago. Beyond that, her personality is also like that of a spoiled brat who thinks she knows everything.

In some ways, I understand that Sal is supposed to be a little naive, being technically just six years old and all. But I've lived almost five times that and I'll still be the first to admit there's just so much I have yet to learn, and Sal's self-centered attitude really got on my nerves, along with her apparent disdain for authority figures. Sometimes, I wondered if I would have enjoyed this book more as a Young Adult novel, because then the premise and the main character's attitude would not have felt so out of place.

I suppose Sal's history also excuses her for not being all that discerning, or for not having the best judgment of people and situations. I don't think it'll take long for most readers to guess the ending to this book; personally, I was able to predict the "twist" by the halfway point (and I don't think I'm the most perceptive of readers either) but it's something Sal only manages to figure out in the final few pages, significantly lessening the effect of the cliffhanger. If any suspense still remained for me at this point, the conclusion pretty much negated it and made me realize that perhaps this book just isn't for me. For a future Mira Grant fix, I will probably pick up Deadline and return to the Newsflesh Trilogy. Tapeworms are interesting, but I think I like her zombies a lot better.
Profile Image for Stefani.
329 reviews97 followers
July 7, 2013
I am not sure where this book went wrong for me but I went into it with high expectations. I am a fan of Mira Grant, I find her to be a very good writer and I have enjoyed what I’ve read from her in the past. And I started off enjoying this too, but somewhere along the line it just lost its appeal and I ended up bored.

The idea behind this book is a good one although I have to admit I was skeptical about the idea that science had engineered tapeworms to treat our medical ills. These things can secrete medication, adjust metabolism, mend some injuries, and a whole host of other things. But I have a hard time believing that just in a decade from now 99% of society will be totally cool with intentionally ingesting a parasite. I didn’t really buy that but then I had to remind myself that there are people out there who buy tapeworms off the internet to lose weight so maybe it’s more possible than this wouldn’t be as hard of a sell as I believe.

The main character was interesting but she got a bit old after awhile. I liked Sal ultimately. She was in a horrible accident that left her clinically brain dead and on life support. Her family was about to end life support when she woke up against all medical odds. The company that manufactures these tapeworms suspect that her “implant” played a role in her recovery and so offer to pay all her expenses in exchange for studying how that is possible. Unfortunately this is when I began to suspect that I knew what was going on, I looked at the synopsis and looked at Sal and thought “I hope I’m wrong about this!”

The story moved a bit slower than I would have liked but the information was interesting so I didn’t get bored. We met some new characters that I liked and I enjoyed the people we met at first. I hated Sal’s family. They were bossy, secretive and pains in the ass. More than once I found myself cringing when they said something to Sal and I thought, how could you SAY that to your daughter! I didn’t like the people at SymboGen because they were just all creepy and narcissistic. The secretive people that are determined to give Sal answers weren’t much better since they were clearly using her for their own means. By the end the only characters I liked were Sal, her boyfriend, and Tansy.

The big reveals were equally great and disappointing. The first big reveal floored me. I didn’t see it coming a mile away and I felt as betrayed as Sal did. But I recovered quickly since technically we didn’t know the character all that terribly well. But the second big reveal was awful. Remember that moment in the very beginning when I thought “I hope I’m wrong”? Yeah, I wasn’t wrong. It shouldn’t be that blatantly obvious.

At the end of the day I enjoyed it but the ending took away from my enjoyment a little bit. I am interested enough in the second book that I will definitely read it but once again I suspect I know what the plot is going to be and I pray, please let me be wrong!
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Author 4 books39 followers
August 7, 2022
This was fantastic! Everything I could ask for in a thriller.

It was slow, especially the first half, but the expertly woven tension kept me more than engaged. I won't go into detail due to spoilers, but yeah, the way information is revealed throughout the book was brilliant and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The characters were great. Each was unique and fully fleshed out. The book (and trilogy I think) is told from Sal's POV, 1st person, with occasional snippets from interviews and journals from other characters at the start of each chapter. That was a great way to expand the world without taking the focus away from Sal and her journey.

Sal does seem 'fragile' in a certain sense. She cries and faints numerous times in the book, but while that would normally irritate me from a main character, I didn't mind this time. She was involved in a horrific car accident at the start of the book and declared legally brain dead, and as such her health is closely monitored by SymboGen, because the story is that the parasite they created to improve everyone's health saved her life somehow. It was pretty obvious from the start what was going on with her, but other mysteries where piled on top of that, and I need to know the answers!

The parasite is implanted into millions of people around the world. Again, I won't go into detail, but uh oh...

Onto book 2!

Rep: Sal is dyslexic. Bi and lesbian side characters. I will preface this and say some of these do die, but I don't think it falls into the Bury Your Gays trope because of the nature of the story and how a lot of other people die too.
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