Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Length: 528 pages
Release Date: November 25, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Parasitology Trilogy
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
This is the second book in the Parasitology series by Grant; this was originally going to be a duology and was extended into a trilogy. The third book, Chimera, is set to release late 2015. This was hands down my least favorite book Mira Grant or Seanan McGuire (her other pen name) has written. I am a huge fan of all of Mira Grant’s/Seanan McGuire’s other books. For some reason though this series is just missing the mark for me.
Sal is coming to terms with the fact that she is no longer human. Her human host Sally died in the car accident she was recovering from in the first book (Parasite) and the tapeworm Sal has taken over. While Sal is reeling from this news, the world outside is falling apart. Sleepwalkers, including more aggressive variants, are taking over humanity completely. Sal and her boyfriend Nathan (who is a parasitologist) are working with Nathan’s mom, Shanti, to try and figure out how to stop this crisis and save humanity. Shanti is one of the scientists who helped to develop that tapeworm implants to cure disease in humanity.
I will start out by saying that the first book in this series, Parasite, was my least favorite book by Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire (although I still thought the story for that one was decent). This book was worse than Parasite. It is long and it feels long. It is also very wordy and the same ideas/concerns are rehashed over and over again.
It is still readable and decently written. There were just too many plot inconsistencies and the books is way, way too wordy. It’s like the story doesn’t know whether to be an action-packed zombie novel or a philosophical discussion on the ills of science/medicine gone awry. It teeters in the middle and ends up being pretty bad at both. There is also this strange power struggle going on between the three scientists that helped develop SymboGen’s tapeworm. It’s like all three scientists want to play God and so they like to jerk each other around a lot while humanity dies around them. Honestly it comes off as an obnoxious medical drama of sorts.
I found myself skimming portions of the story and then going back to reread them to make sure I hadn’t missed anything (I hadn’t). Vast portions of this book could have been left out and the story would have been better for it. I am not sure what happened here, but this is a bloated book. It is a book I did not enjoy written by an author I thought could do no wrong. I am very disappointed. It is still readable and there are sections and ideas within this book that are interesting. But, wow, this book needed some cuts and some editing before publishing.
Okay enough complaining…well okay there might be some more complaining. I have had trouble with the whole concept of this series right from the beginning. The idea that vast portions of humanity would allow themselves to be infected with a tapeworm to prevent disease is just..well…really unlikely. People are incredibly stubborn and incredibly protective of their bodies. It’s taken a lot for me to set all that aside and accept that “yes, of course everyone would get tapeworms implanted”.
The confusion comes in with the Sleepwalkers and the more aggressive tapeworms. There seems to be kind of two types of people infected, or maybe they are going through stages? It’s just all very confusing. People without tapeworm implants are not supposed to be infected, because it’s not an infection it’s a parasite. So I am still a bit confused about how cities are collapsing if only people with tapeworms are getting taken over. What is everyone who doesn’t have a tapeworm doing? Also why do they need the dogs to sniff out sleepwalkers? Aren’t they noisily moaning all the time? Or do only the active ones moan and the other ones need to be sniffed out? So confused…
All that confusion aside… let’s talk about our two main characters Sal and Nathan. Sal (Sally) has been a very confusing character. She is constantly passing out (we are given a reason for that finally in this book), she seems both too naive and too ruthless at times. In the last book she was supposedly still human but at the end of that book we find out she’s not. Now she’s getting used to be a tapeworm living in human skin. Okay I kind of get all that. Then in the second half of this book they are all like “Oh, but maybe you ARE still human too!” Okay make up your mind and get on with the story…I am totally losing interest here…
I do enjoy some of the ideas behind the story. I also enjoy the research that must have been done to write this book, there is interesting information on parasitology and genetics in here. Additionally I enjoy the relationship that Nathan and Sal have; it is one based on mutual respect and trust.
Overall parts of this book were okay but I did not enjoy the majority of it. The book is too wordy, too slow, and too long. There is too much back and forth in the plot and too much rehashing of the same ideas over and over. The characters are inconsistent and the side plots about scientist power struggles are too dramatic and preachy. I haven’t enjoyed our main character and am having a really hard time with the main premise of the whole series (that vast portions of humanity would allow parasite to be implanted into their bodies). I would recommend reading Grant’s Newsflesh series but would recommend skipping this one. I won’t be reading the final book in this series because I just do not care.