Symbiont by Mira Grant

This is the sequel to Parasite, and originally it was supposed to be the finale, however, it turns out that this only book two of three. And I’m fine with that, obviously Grant found as she wrote the second book that it just wasn’t resolving in the required space. So rather than cut things out, I’d much rather another book. Grant also wrote the Newflesh series, which I loved, and she really is Seanan McGuire. I had high hopes for the book, but it didn’t reach them. It was good, but it wasn’t great.I sort of felt the same way as Parasite, but, not to the same degree. I really love the idea of the series, that we voluntarily ingest a parasite to reduce our allergies and such which have exploded due to the hygiene hypothesis. And it’s great that the protagonist is unknowingly (but now knowingly) is actually a parasite, who is now controlling the brain of the human. However the other parasites are trying to gain control and of course chaos ensues.

Also in the beginning there was what seemed to be an error which mildly annoyed me. It talked about a parasite moving up an artery to reach a person’s brain, and mentions the fact that going up the vena cava was a bad idea due to not enough oxygen (well, perhaps, because there is still oxygen there), but it says that ‘it burrowed up into the largest vein in the body’ and that it is responsible to giving oxygen to the body. Yeah no. As a vein it ain’t carrying oxygen nowhere (except of course in the pulmonary veins which bring the oxygen from the lungs into the heart for circulation). Did they mean it burrowed into the aorta? Cause that seems horrible. Also the fact that it can withstand the pressure of blood is impressive (if true). Also, it says that passage is slow, but it takes about 5 minutes seemingly for it to go from around the heart up into the brain, which to me is actually quick.

That aside. I liked the story, there was a lot that happened, but not at lot that was absolutely shocking and intense as Newsflesh. Now I know it’s a different series and everything can’t be compared, but I’m going to do it.

So in Symbiont Sal has to come to terms with the truth that she is actually a tapeworm. You read that right (though if you haven’t read Parasite or Symbiont, you just got spoiled). Obviously this is a hard thing to come to terms with, but at the same time, Sal copes reasonably well, because, or so she surmises, her subconscious knew it all along (well duh if her subconscious is the tapeworm brain) so it isn’t devastating. And then there’s her boyfriend, Nathan, who takes it very well.

A lot happens, Sal blacks out a lot, she’s drugged a lot. They go rescue their dogs, which seems a little silly. She has important surgery, gets taken by Sherman. Evil, evil, Sherman. Then escapes. Then gets back to Dr Cale, who has moved to a Willy-Wonka-eque factory, and then Dr Banks shows up.

While it was all exciting, and interesting, it just wasn’t enough. It felt a little too obvious and a little stale. As I said earlier, I expected more, and didn’t quite get it.

We end on another cliffhanger as Sal and Nathan make a dangerous journey (another one) into the city with Dr Banks. And the journey into the city was quite exciting and scary. But then they make it into Symbogen to save Tansy, who was captured back in Parasite (poor poor Tansy!). And then they go to leave, but it’s Sal’s father, who works for USAMRID. And Sal has to pretend to be Sally, and all normal, leaving Nathan behind. What’s going to happen next, and seriously, can humanity even survive? I continue to have high hopes for the finale, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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