Parasite. Book Review

Grant_Parasite-HC-664x1024PARASITE by Mira Grant
Orbit, p/b, 512pp, £8.99
Reviewed by Stewart Horn

Following a car crash, Sally Mitchell has been in a coma for weeks. The family gather to switch off the life-support machine when she wakes and sits up, healthy but with no memory of her life at all.

It’s set a couple decades in the future and most human health problems have been eradicated by a genetically engineered tapeworm that lives in out gut and keeps the system balanced. Nobody worries about diabetes any more, or epilepsy, or allergies – the worm can take care of it.

But the worm is getting restless. It wants autonomy.

The first couple of chapters of this novel read like a typical zombie apocalypse novel with some pseudo-science thrown in. It is all that, but don’t dismiss it. Grant’s greatest strength is creating characters we care as we follow their journeys, rooting for them and getting scared when they’re in danger. She manages this even when they are psychopathic killers, or not quite human. The science is eerily plausible.

It’s paced and structured as a conspiracy thriller, and by the end the zombie bit has hardly begun.

Thoroughly recommended for its emphasis on character, though there is enough action and suspense to keep the horror fans happy.