Friday, October 18, 2013

Parasite by Mira Grant (Parasitology)

Who was the bigger monster in Frankenstein--The scientist or his creation?

Parasite features modern-day mad scientists and science gone wrong.

Sally Mitchell should have died in the car accident and should not have awakened from the coma, but she did, and it was due to a top-of-the-line Symbocorp parasitic implant she had. She has become a medical oddity and lab rat of sorts, media curiosity, and poster child for scientific miracles. Sally is a changed woman with no memory of her past, making for an intriguing character study.

Scientifically-engineered parasites are a medical breakthrough allowing people to be treated for many conditions, but you know that saying, “if it sounds too good to be true…” The supposedly safe implants are taking over their human hosts, and there is no way to stop it and no hope of finding a cure soon enough. With family working for the government, a boyfriend who is a doctor, and as research subject for Symbocorp, this crisis hits close to home for Sally who finds herself in the thick of things.

Grant explores the flipside of medical research and treatment where it is all business. Not just about finding a cure or improving lives, it is about selling products. The mad scientist character comes to horrifyingly believable life. Researchers push the boundaries of science and medicine because they can, ignoring ethics and safety for the sake of change. The race for a cure becomes a tangled and disjointed effort with corporations, the government, and independent parties with their own interests at stake working at cross-purposes to take control of the parasite situation.

One of the most chilling things here is not the parasites-taking-over problem--the whole crisis is man-made and made quite possible by man’s own intelligence, hubris, and greed. Grant keeps it from becoming a simplistic good-versus-evil critique of those involved. She makes a thought-provoking exploration into the tug-of-war between different peoples and groups all scrambling to determine, not who is right, but who comes out on top.

Look for Parasite in the VBPL Catalog. The sequel, Symbiont, comes out in 2014. For more medical horror sci-fi, try Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy (see review). Read The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination for more science and scientists gone wrong. For the classic mad scientist, read Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein.

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