Thursday, May 1, 2014


Horror and tension do not appeal to me as fun leisure-time sensations. I don't like to be scared, and tense cliffhangers are unpleasant.

Nevertheless, I enjoy Mira Grant's books. I don't especially seek them out, but when they stray across my path, I consume them --- usually as quickly as possible, using the Band-Aid-removal strategy --- and enjoy them. Grant's Parasite begins her latest trilogy, this time on the topic of medical-science-advancing-enough-to-implant-beneficial-tapeworms-but-something-goes-wrong. My experience with the previous one (Feed / Deadline / Blackout --- medical-science-advancing-enough-etc-flu-etc-zombies) was positive, but tense. I read Feed over a few weeks; I read Deadline and Blackout in a single weekend. Immediately. Perhaps my lack of exposure makes me susceptible to the stress of cliffhangers, or the reasonably plausible zombies and well-used varieties of format drew me in.

I liked Parasite. Perhaps I am building up a resistance to Grant's authorial magic. She is consistently good, dependable for a cliffhanger at the end of every few chapters, and enticing "excerpts" from in-universe documents at the beginning of each chapter, a trail of misleading breadcrumbs which deepens and intensifies the unfolding novel.

There were certain structural clues, though, and parallels to the previous trilogy (in an unrelated modern-day universe). So many things did not catch me by surprise. Secret medical agencies? Check. Government-organized disease researchers? Check. A confluence of events (intentional? accidental?) which results in the protagonist, a young adult woman, being chased by zombies? Check. Cell phones, secret interpersonal codes, the feeling that an all-powerful Big Brother is somewhere manipulating things and shaping destiny/leaving a trail of clues, lots of scenes with tense emotional showdowns over trust and information-disclosure? Yep. And the book-ending climax? I saw it coming in the first chapter, it's hinted at everywhere. I can only imagine that books 2 and 3 must reverse this climactic reveal, otherwise it's... too straightforward, I think.

But to be clear: I liked it. I like Mira Grant's writing; it is unlike anything else in my experience.

You should read this book if you are hard to gross out, and not prone to medical nightmares or formication.

This post's theme word is curettage, "scraping", usually in a medical sense and applied especially to the uterus. The recommended removal procedure for tapeworms does not involve curettage.