Parasite was not an easy read for me. The beginning of the book was slow and I couldn't help but feel completely grossed out by the thought of a tapeworm ensuring one's health. Have you ever seen what a tapeworm looks like? Do yourself a favor - DON'T GOOGLE IT - you really need a strong stomach. (no pun intended).
The novel begins as a collection of scientific articles, excerpts from scientists' biographies, and even SymboGen commercials interspersed with the narrative. The book is set in the near future where due to the hygiene hypothesis, humans have lost their natural immunity to disease. The scientists at SymboGen develop an "intestinal bodyguard" to manage the health of the population. Most of the population has such an implant until things start going wrong.
Now, there's a lot of suspending belief if you are to enjoy this book. I kept reminding myself that this is a work of fiction and that the author wants to create a world like this, it is her prerogative. I'm just along for the ride. With that in mind, I slogged through the first part of the book, hoping to get hooked.
I think that the book worked for me because of the characters. The main character Sally/Sal (Sally before her accident and Sal after the accident) kept my interest because of her drastic change in personality. The new Sal was so very different from the old Sally. She was practically a stranger in her home. I liked Sal and loved her relationship with her boyfriend Nathan. I did not like her family and I found that they treated her like a child, even though she was an adult. My favorite character was the slightly off Tansy who was incredibly kickass and childlike at the same time. I loved her lack of brain filter. There were some very funny scenes with this character.
The second half of this book moved along at a quicker pace, especially after Sal received a secret message that was tied to a creepy children's book from Nathan's past. The addition of quotes from this book added an eerie feel to the book.
This book had an interesting if a little unbelievable twist to it. It did make the book more entertaining and I am glad that I stuck with it. This was the first book that I've read by this author and I am looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit Books for a review copy of this book.
Check out our group discussion of Parasite on Badass Book Reviews.