Series: Parasitology #2
Published by Orbit on November 25th, 2014
THE SECOND BOOK IN MIRA GRANT'S TERRIFYING PARASITOLOGY SERIES.
THE ENEMY IS INSIDE US.
The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world's population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde.
Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.
A segment where at least two of our bloggers collaborate to share their thoughts in a joint review discussion.
Today, Bry and Fry discuss the latest segment of Mira Grant’s Parasitology series, Symbiont
F: Going to have to tell you all now, this will not be a spoiler free review. Just stop reading if you don’t want to be spoiled, otherwise, continue on into the tapeworm madness.
B: Symbiont has finally arrived, and while we anticipated the next (and thought to be the final) segment of Parasitology eagerly, we were saddened by the prospect that this series was supposed to come to an end. But good news! There will be more in store, because Parasitology has reproduced into a trilogy!
F: I’m glad that it’s not the end of the series. I’m also not sure if you’re trying to make a tapeworm joke by calling it a segment. Anyway, this book suffers from what I will lovingly refer to as middle book syndrome. Some stuff happens, some action ramps up, but nothing overall concludes or becomes more evident. Unlike Deadline, with it’s huge cliffhanger, Symbiont ended with a little less bang.
B: (Unintentional puns are the best!) I was about 85% through the book when it hit me, “there is just no way she is going to be able to concisely wrap this up and give us answers by this point” because the action had only really started to take off. Which is not to say the rest of the book was dull, but it was constructed in a way that what was happening had to be accepted in the moment in anticipation of answers later — a later we will have to wait on another book for. Symbiont picks up right after Parasite, in that Sal has just become self aware of her ‘sentient tapeworm’ existence, and is attempting to navigate what this means for her ongoing life and choices.
F: That was kind of a crappy cliffhanger, to be honest. I’m used to Mira Grant leaving me crying in a heap on the floor. All she gave me was something I’d figured from the beginning of the novel. Not to say it wasn’t crafted well, it just wasn’t the cliffhanger I wanted.
B: Well, there were still some unwelcome surprises, but we’ll have to hit on that a little later. First, it needs to be said that the beginning of the book is filled with a lot of Sal blacking out. And I mean A LOT. If you were playing a drinking game for every time Sal blacked out, I’d fear for your health. After I mentioned this to Fry, she kept a tally through the book. What was the final count?
F: I did! She passes out eight times. Surprisingly, once she gets back to Doctor Cale and her crew, she doesn’t pass out again. I, of course, didn’t count panic attacks in which she went to hide in the hot, warm dark, as she was not unconscious during that time. That would have upped the count significantly.
B: That is my biggest complaint with this book – the repetitiveness. If it wasn’t blacking out, it was ‘the drums’, or the ‘warm dark.’ I get that tapeworms may not be the most complex of species, but since they’re passing as humans in their host, it grew a bit frustrating.
F: I’d make a Doctor Who joke, but it’d be just gibberish to you. But, yeah, the whole thing with the repetitiveness was giving me Anita Blake flashbacks. At least no one was having awful sex.
B: Just casually mentioned sex. Speaking of, the massive lust vibes from Sherman felt new! I feel like from the first book, Sherman was the character with the most growth – that growth being into complete evil-genius-sadist-monster-creep, but for some reason, I liked him more for it?
F: It’s because you have a villain boner. And he’s kind of the best sort of villain. I didn’t know what to expect from him at all. In the first book he was just one of her handlers, charming in his own way. But then you found out he was a tapeworm and now he’s just all over the place. Building his tapeworm army, cutting into people’s heads, wanting to breed people for tapeworm insertion.
B: Generally, I do, yes. And agreed, Sherman was entirely unpredictable in his new evil plot. it made him compelling, and so did his company. Clearly, hanging out with Sherman is a good way to meet interesting people/tapeworms. One of his henchmen (haha) was by far the most interesting character in the series: a trans-sexual tapeworm. Whoda thunk? Mira Grant, taking sexual representation to a new level, once again.
F: Ronnie was by far my favorite. He is currently housed in a young female body, yet has totally imprinted male from previous hosts.
B: Ronnie just by existing opens a whole new can of worms (my puns are on fire today!) when it comes to the science of Parasitology, and the implications for what is to come in the third book. Are tapeworms actually capable of developing independent ‘identity’? Are they capable on some level of absorbing and maintaining memories, if they are forced to switch hosts? These will all have major ramifications later on — especially with regard to what happens to Tansy, and Anna.
F: The Anna thing was super messed up. That opens up a whole lot of doors. Is the person with whom the tapeworm us using as a host still in there? Anna was, as far as we know, the only tapeworm integrated from both part of another tapeworm and set into a conscious human. The other tapeworms become sleepwalkers or don’t fully integrate.
B: Anna’s conversion was the shock factor of this book that I expect from Mira Grant. It was brutal, and senseless, and completely left unresolved, just to make you stress more. Imagine what could happen if Big Pharma could just get ahold of undesirable people, for any reason from political belief, lifestyle, whatever, and just turn them into hosts for sentient tapeworms to perform their bidding?
F: Well, that’s part of what some of the other sectors want to do. What if, instead of capital punishment, you were deemed unfit for society and were made a tapeworm host instead? Your body could still contribute and sustain the economy by doing lower class work.
B: I’m so glad there is another book to answer these questions. There is so much to touch on. What happens to the rest of the world, plagued by sleepwalkers? In Newsflesh we’re thrown into the rising almost a generation after it began, so things were already being handled and organized. Parasitology is right in the middle of the apocalyptic chaos, and thats a whole other issue to tackle.
F: Hopefully the last book answers everything. There’s so much left unsaid. With for warring factions, and very little in way of motivation besides trying to spin the downfall of humanity to their own means, she’s got her work cut out for her. I mean, they were in the middle of a rescue attempt and then there was that whole thing with Sherman’s folk? Why you gotta poison the water supply? What does that even help?
B: He’s just so evil, and I have a feeling he’s going to devolve so much further in the process. But now that so much of the weighty plot has been addressed, can we talk about Fishy? Fishy deserves some spotlight.
F: I love Fishy. He’s a gamer, computer whiz, who at some point during the outbreak lost his wife to her implant. It caused him to have a mental break, and he’s pretty sure that he’s in a video game. I don’t feel like he actually has weapon’s training, but he certainly figured out the mechanics. At one point, he gets in and drives a boat, having no idea how. If the game put it there, he must be able to? Right?
B: And when they’re crossing through areas of the city infested with Sleepwalkers, he really isn’t concerned about running out of ammo. Smash some vases and you’ll find some for sure, right? He’s ready to ‘trigger the boss fight’. And if they lose, no worries, he’s ready to log out and get back to his life. Its hysterical, and heartbreaking in one.
F: Some of his actual speeches, though are perfect. Sometimes it sounds like someone yelling into their headset at stupid characters, and other times it seems like he’s trying to advance the storyline with prompts.
B: He was the perfection of comic relief, without going overboard and killing the mood. His inclusion is a testament of the author’s ability to balance a scene and give it real complexity, to thrill you and keep you entirely engaged.
F: Hopefully we don’t have to wait over a year for the next book.
B: No, waiting for this one was hard enough. It was a middle book with some kinks to work through, but more than ever I am thrilled to see how this all plays out in the end.