This year I’m giving each nominated work for the Hugo and Nebula novel awards their very own entry after I read them.
Since it was the first work I was able to find available as an ebook at the library, I’m starting with Parasite by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire).
Last year, I read another work by Mira Grant for this project, Blackout. Now, Blackout was the third book in a trilogy, and I chose not to read any preceding books for any of the nominated works. I enjoyed Blackout a lot. The characters were engaging, and I found myself intrigued, but not lost, by the world that was surely more understandable if one had already read the first two books.
I kept meaning to read the first two books, but I haven’t yet.
Parasite was a quick read, like Blackout. I liked that about it, and it is something that I want to learn how to do in my own writing. The narrative flows by quickly and doesn’t sag. But I felt like something was missing when I finished the book.
Granted, it is the first book of a trilogy, and it has to do a lot of work to lay the groundwork of the world. But, despite flowing quickly, it felt as if the narrative had been stretched out just to provide more room for backstory rather than actually having something to “say” about the action. On the one hand, that’s a clever writing move, but on the other hand I felt vaguely cheated by it.
Without going too far into spoiler territory, I found the most fantastical element of the book was not the parasite science, but the boyfriend. Tell me that tapeworms have been recombined with a variety of other species DNA, and that people are willing to eat them for their own health – if that’s the premise of your story, I’ll buy it. I’m willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to the fantastic.
But tell me that this girl with six years of memories has the most perfect boyfriend that could possibly be described in words, whose worst sin is to occasionally freak out said girl by taking his hands off the steering wheel in an excess of emotion, and I just can’t. There is no reason for me to believe that such a man exists – especially since he doesn’t even have a magical, er, pseudo-scientific tapeworm in him.
Still, that I’m invested enough in the characters to think that the boyfriend was unrealistically perfect does say something about the book. It is easy to get into this book, and I did like it. I didn’t love it, and I especially didn’t love the made up children’s book that played a large role in it, but I think that opinion is more about my own relationship with poetry.