Published: October 29, 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.
In Parasite, Mira Grant imagines a near future in which genetically modified tapeworms are a universal health-care solution. Once implanted, the worm provides immune-system support, making its human host healthy for the duration of its life — though like any good piece of commodified progress, the worms have planned obsolescence and need to be replaced regularly.
Sal Mitchell owes her life to her parasite, which brought her out of a coma after a serious car accident. Unfortunately, her memories vanished, and her current personality is only 6 years old. She lives a life that’s half lab rat and half surreal puberty, living at home, dating a doctor (though not one of hers), and relearning language and social idiosyncracies in a treading-water existence. Something’s got to give — and does; people start contracting a bizarre sleepwalking sickness just as Sal starts getting cryptic messages about what she already suspects. This pandemic is no accident.
This is a very thought-provoking book that causes you to think that maybe a medical cure could be worse than the disease and in 2027 that is the case.
SymboGen, the corporation responsible to the miraculous tapeworm implants, has secrets it’s not sharing and Sal and her boyfriend are trying to find out what they are, especially now that her father and sister have been hit with the “sleeping sickness”. Of course, they are blocked at every corner and don’t know who trust, including her boyfriend’s mother, who was a head scientist on the team discovering the tapeworm implant and now is in hiding.
Because of Sal’s unique medical situation, SymboGen does semi-annual check-ups on her and each time it is harder and harder for her to stand all the poking and prodding. There are memories that want to surface and she’s not sure she wants to face them, but at the end she has to because there is no getting away from the facts. I can’t tell you any more because that would ruin the entire book but, as a reader, I could see the writing on the wall long before Sal did and I was shocked to the core.
Fantastic book. Looking forward to the next installment.