Format Read: hardcover
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: November 25, 2014
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Blurb from goodreads:
THE SECOND BOOK IN MIRA GRANT'S TERRIFYING PARASITOLOGY SERIES.
THE ENEMY IS INSIDE US.
The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world's population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde.
Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.
I think Mira Grant could write a traffic ticket and I'd read it. :D I've been anxiously waiting for this book since I finished reading book one, "Parasite", in October of 2013. I was delighted when it was announced several moths ago that instead of two books, Grant will write three in this series. Frankly, I doubt she could have wrapped this up in two books. And these books are not short. "Parasite" was 512 pages and "Symbiont" is 516 pages. With plots as twisty and complex as Grants, she needs those pages.
"Symbiont" starts shortly after "Parasite" ended as Sal and company confirm their suspicions about the tapeworm in her body. That's the first of numerous revelations and twists and turns throughout the book. As in the first book, a few things were predictable but for the most part I never quite knew where Grant was going or what would happen next. As the revelations about the tapeworms and the infected come out, Grant gives us mini treatises on the nature of consciousness, souls, memory, gender, and identity. She also explores the notion of family, a recurring theme throughout all of her books, regardless of subject or genre. She uses Sal, Sal's boyfriend Nathan, his mother Dr. Cale, as well as another doctor, Dr. Banks, and several of Dr. Cale's other children to explore these questions. The book isn't all seriousness, there's humor and even romance, but this is not the book for when you want a light, easy read or a quick read.
There are no easy answers in Symbiont. The humans in America are at war with the infected and both sides play dirty. There doesn't seem to be a solution that allows for a peaceful co-existence. Who will win? Who should win? Which side do you root for? Sal is particularly conflicted as she belongs to both sides. While there's a fair amount of action, Sal gets taken prisoner at least three times by my count, much of the book is a mix of emotional and cerebral. Sometimes that meant the pace suffered and I would wish for something to happen. Grant makes you think and makes you feel. Once again, Nathan is too good and too understanding to the point of not feeling real. But every other character is fully formed and developed. Fishy, a new character, is both charming and scary. I liked him but didn't completely trust him.
"Symbiont" blends science, horror, romance, and family dysfunction with philosophy and mythical hero's quest into a story that grabs you, that pokes at your comfort levels, and keeps you reading to what will happen, what might happen, and what will the new world look like. It's a hell of a ride so hold on and don't let go!