"The broken doors are open- come and enter and be home. My darling girl, be careful now, and don't go out alone."
Symbogen promised affordable healthcare for everyone in the form of the 'Intestinal Bodyguard', a genetically modified tapeworm that could combat autoimmune diseases, other illnesses and even dispense birth control. But of course that wasn't the whole truth. The young Sally Mitchell was in a car accident that left her brain dead, but just when her family were thinking about organ donation she suddenly sat up, awake and very much alive. She eventually relearned how to talk and walk. Six years later, Sal, as she now prefers to be called, still has no memories of the accident. She has a job working in an animal shelter and even has a boyfriend, a parasitologist named Nathan. When a strange sickness starts to cause more and more people to behave as though they are sleepwalking it seems that Symbogen know more about the epidemic than they are letting on. Sal and Nathan take it upon themselves to find out the truth and search for a cure before it's too late.
I picked this one up because I really enjoyed Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy. It's is sort of similar in that the sleepwalkers are almost zombies, but if anything they're even creepier. If worms give you the heebie jeebies you may want to skip this one, or at least practice walking without rhythm.
The plot about the parasites seemed plausible, and reminded me of Scott Westerfeld's Peeps. Other aspects of the story seemed less believable. Even given the fact that she was only technically six years old Sal seemed very naive. The big reveal was obvious to everyone but her from a mile off.
Parasite has a good balance of action and creepy moments. It's a little slow to start with but builds momentum after Sal and Nathan start to investigate the sleepwalking sickness. I liked the characters, especially Tansy, who was a lot of fun.The philosophical parts about medical ethics about what makes a person a person could spark some interesting book club discussion. I didn't enjoy it as much as the Newsflesh books, but all in all it's a worthwhile read.
Parasite is book one of the Parasitology trilogy. Books 2, and 3, Symbiont and Chimera are already available.