My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Say one thing about Mira Grant, say that she can write for a modern audience.
Functional prose is used without reservations so that language is a vehicle for the story. The conversations and actions in Parasite feel so natural and real that the reader is instantly convinced and dropped straight into a believable world. Not necessarily in a world-building sort of way recognizable from Fantasy novels, but even better: with characters that start off fleshed out and rounded.
I’m a fan of epidemic/pandemic/outbreak stories, and this one piqued my interest because it was a deeply personal story instead of the removed, journalistic approach you usually see.
Instead of seeing how a plague would affect a nation, we see how it would affect a teenage girl.
Another thing I’ve come to notice and really appreciate is when authors will include same-sex relationships in their books, but without comment. It’s not out of the ordinary—just a natural part of the world that everyone accepts like the existence of cars, or math, or potable water.
However, what I said above about modern writing means it’s easy and fun to read, but definitely not concise. The writing isn’t flowery, but it’s not tight. We hop around from scene to scene with no real impact in each one. No big turns. No striking conversations. No images that stick in your mind well after reading.
In the effort of dramatizing modern life, it perhaps dramatized too much to the detriment of sharp storytelling.
I don’t like comparing books to one another much, but perhaps I read Parasite too soon after Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome. (Read my review of Unlocked.) That novella presents many of the same story conceits as this novel, but much better and in a shorter form.
Overall, a solid read if you’re into epidemic stories, but ultimately forgettable. You flip through 500 pages, and wish it had been 300.