Top Ten Tuesday: The longest books I’ve ever read… and the longest books I’ve read 2017/2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read. I actually did this topic back in 2015 as a TTT freebie, and that list hasn’t changed… so I thought I’d repeat those, but also mention the longest books I’ve read more recently (2017-2018).

First, my ten longest books ever (according to Goodreads, based on mass market paperback editions):

1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1,463 pages)

2. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (1, 443 pages)

3. A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon (1,439 pages)

4. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (1,177 pages)

5. The Stand by Stephen King (1,167 pages)

6. Shogun by James Clavell (1,210 pages)

7. War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk (1,056 pages)

8. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice (1,038 pages)

9. Hawaii by James Michener (1,036 pages)

10. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1,011 pages)

 

My more recent reading has been a bit less ambitious — here are my longest reads from 2017 – 2018:

1. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon (1,117 pages)

2. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (826 pages)

3. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (819 pages)

4. Rise: A Newsflesh Collection by Mira Grant (816 pages)

5. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King (702 pages)

6. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (656 pages)

7. The Angry Tide by Winston Graham (624 pages)

8. Feed by Mira Grant (599 pages)

9. Caliban’s War by James S. A Corey (595 pages)

10. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (592 pages)

What books are on your list this week? Please share your TTT link!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten authors I’d love to meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Authors I’d Love to Meet. I could probably go on and on with this topic, but here are the top 10 on my mind right now, starting with favorite authors whom I’ve never seen in person:

1. Seanan McGuire: I’ve loved her books for quite a while, but this year I totally binged on the October Daye and InCryptids series, as well as the Newsflesh books by her alter ego Mira Grant. Sadly, I ended up out of town for a weekend in September when she was doing a signing event at a local bookstore, but since she’s incredibly prolific (I suspect she doesn’t sleep), I’m hoping it won’t be a long wait until there’s another book launch event to attend.

2. John Scalzi: Love, love, love his writing, and definitely need to read more.

3. Katherine Arden: I adored The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, and can’t wait for the trilogy wrap-up in 2019.

4. Amy Stewart: The Kopp Sisters rule! Her historical fiction is so much fun, and so full of terrific female characters straight out of history.

5. Jim Butcher: I’m a big Dresden fan, and loved Codex Alera and The Aeronaut’s Windlass too.

6. Jojo Moyes: Her books always move and inspire me.

7. Lisa See: I was fascinated by The Teagirl of Hummingbird Lane, and have enjoyed many of her books over the years. I’d love to hear her speak and learn more about her writing and research process.

8. Lisa Genova: Her books tackles such fascinating medical conditions. She’s another author I’d like to hear talk about inspiration, medical research, and the conditions she clearly cares so much about.

9. Dana Stabenow: I love the Kate Shugak series, and really enjoy reading this author’s blog posts on writing, general topics, and life in Alaska!

I’ll wrap up with an author whom I had the pleasure to meet once already, back in 2014 when Written in My Own Heart’s Blood was released — but I’d love to see her again (and again and again):

10: Diana Gabaldon: Author extraordinaire of the Outlander series!

Yes, I met her! What an amazing day!

Have you met any of the authors on my list? Which authors would you most want to meet? Please share your TTT link!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books By My Favorite Authors (that I still haven’t read)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read. Usually, when I love an author, I read everything he or she has written… but there are always some books that fall off the bookpile or get otherwise overlooked. My selection of books by favorite authors that I still need to read :

1. Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell: This is the sequel to Doc, which I truly loved. Mary Doria Russell is a brilliant writer (The Sparrow will always be near and dear to my heart), and I bought Epitaph as soon as it came out. Why haven’t I read it yet? No idea… other than me just being lame.

2. The Sumage Solution by G. L. Carriger: Gail Carriger is an absolute favorite of mine, and I’ve read every bit of her published work… except The Sumage Solution. Maybe it’s because of the contemporary setting, since I love Carriger’s steampunk Parasol-verse so very much… but I haven’t quite brought myself around to starting Sumage. And there’s a sequel on the way, so I’d better get to it.

3. The Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi: I haven’t read a single book by John Scalzi that I haven’t enjoyed… but so far, I’ve only read his stand-alone books. I keep swearing that THIS will finally be the year when I read Old Man’s War… but it just hasn’t happened yet, and we’re getting frighteningly close to the end of 2018.

4. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: I bought this the day it was released, and I’ve just gotten too overwhelmed by ARCs and library books to ever get around to starting. I loved Uprooted, so I’m really excited to start this one.

5. SO MANY  BOOKS by Stephen King: I always think of myself as a Stephen King fan, but it’s scary to think how many I’ve missed! Just looking at the unread King books on my shelves, I have Duma Key, Lisey’s Story, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, books 4 – 7 of The Dark Tower series, The Green Mile, a few short story collections… ugh, it never ends! I guess on the flip side, I’ll never run out of good options for when I want to be scared silly by a book.

6. Earlier works by Patricia Briggs: I adore the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series, and could read those books over and over again (and yes, I’ve gone back for re-reads already). I really should make a point of reading some of her other works too, although I think I’m resistant to leaving those familiar worlds and going more into straight-up fantasy rather than urban fantasy.

7. More Jojo Moyes! I’ve loved so many of her books, and I actually own copies of these… so why haven’t I read them?

8. The Silk and Song trilogy by Dana Stabenow. I adore the Kate Shugak books — the characters, the crime drama, and the amazing Alaska setting. I really admire Stabenow’s writing and I enjoy historical fiction, so this trilogy (about the granddaughter of Marco Polo) should be right up my alley, despite the lack of Alaska! Seriously, the story sounds great — maybe a reading priority for 2019?

9. The Parasitology trilogy by Mira Grant: I loved the Newsflesh books SO much, and love everything she writes under her other (real) name (Seanan McGuire). I did actually read the first book in this trilogy, and thought it was really, really icky but also amazing… so I just need to return to the world of tapeworms and medical experiments gone haywire!

10. Yesternight by Cat Winters: I’ve read everything else by this author, and I think she’s so incredibly talented! I own a copy of Yesternight (I bought it as soon as it came out), and have every intention of reading it… so this is yet another book that I have no good reason for not having read yet, other than the good old “so many books, so little time” excuse.

What books are on your list this week? Please share your TTT link!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype.

I’ll start my list with the book I’m reading right now:

1) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This book got ALL the buzz, but I haven’t been reading as much YA lately and decided to pass. Then I saw the movie trailer a few weeks ago, and realized just how much I was missing out on. I picked up the book yesterday, and have read about 350 pages so far. I can’t put it down — it’s that good!

2) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Yes, a ton of people have jumped on the bandwagon ever since the TV show premiered. But it so lives up to all the hype, and remains my favorite books and series.

3) Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (review): Such a sweet, adorable love story! And I thought the movie was terrific too.

4) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (review): I actually hadn’t heard that much about this book before I read it… but once I did and fell in love with the characters, I started to see people gushing over the story everywhere.

5) Cinder by Marissa Meyer (review): Somehow, just based on the cover, I decided this book wasn’t for me, and I resisted reading it for a really long time. I don’t know what finally convinced me to read it, but I was immediately hooked once I did. And I guess it’s a good thing that I held off as long as I did, because I was able to read the first three books straight through once I started!

6) The Martian by Andy Weir (review): Here’s one that I just knew I had to read once I heard about it! A true word-of-mouth success story — and absolutely worth all the buzz.

7) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (review): Everyone said that this one would bring on the tears. Everyone was right.

8) Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant (review): I wasted a lot of breath telling people that I just wasn’t interested in these books. Silly me. I LOVED the entire series, and just wish there were more books set in this world.

9) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (review): Another one leading to buckets of tears. Just breathtaking. And I cry every time I read it.

10) A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (review): This book was everywhere… and was just delightful, exactly as promised!

 

What are the best hyped, buzzy books that you’ve read recently? Please share your TTT links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten recent novellas that I really, really loved

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Favorite Novellas/Short Stories.

I’m not a huge short story fan, but I have read some amazing novellas lately. Here are some of the best:

1) The Wayward Children novellas by Seanan McGuire:

Every Heart a Doorway (review)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Beneath the Sugar Sky

2) The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (review)

3) Time Was by Ian McDonald (review)

4) The Binti novellas by Nnedi Okorafor

5) American Hippo novellas by Sarah Gailey (review)

6) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (review)

7) Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar (review)

8) How to Marry A Werewolf by Gail Carriger (review)

9) The Dispatcher by John Scalzi (review)

10) Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant (review)

 

What are the best novellas and short stories that you’ve read recently? Please share your TTT links!

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Shelf Control #122: Symbiont by Mira Grant

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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Title: Symbiont (Parasitology, #2)
Author: Mira Grant
Published: 2014
Length: 518 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

THE ENEMY IS INSIDE US.

The SymboGen-designed parasites 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 parasites are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is and how they can be stopped.

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy when the book came out in 2014.

Why I want to read it:

Oh, I’m so torn about this book! I loved the first book in the series (Parasite) — so gross and so good! But somehow, when I got Symbiont, I just couldn’t muster the interest to keep going with the overarching story. Mira Grant is an absolute fave of mine, so how can I own books by her and not read them? I’m afraid I’ll have to start over again from the beginning if I want book #2 to make any sense to me at all. Should I? Is it worth it? I’m not sure how I can be a legit fan and not read this trilogy!

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Rise: The Complete Newsflesh Collection by Mira Grant

Rise is a collection of eight novellas and short stories that are set within the world of the Newsflesh trilogy. (See my wrap-up post about Newsflesh here. Short version: Amazing.)

So what’s inside Rise? And should you read it? Read on for mini-reviews of each story… and as for whether you should read it, my answer is an unqualified YES… but only after you read the complete trilogy, or at least, enough to appreciate the context of these stories.

Onward…

The first few stories in the Rise collection are set at the very beginning of the Rising – and this is something we never see in the main books of the Newsflesh trilogy. Newsflesh is set decades after the onset of the initial Kellis-Amberlee outbreak, and while we learn through the characters’ conversations and memories what happened at that time, it’s something quite different to read the author’s stories set during the Rising. These stories are awful in their inevitability – we know what’s coming, and we know that nothing will stop it.

Countdown

It began nowhere. It began everywhere. It began without warning; it began with all the warning in the world. It could have been prevented a thousand times over. There was nothing that anyone could have done.

A chilling timeline of the end of the world, showing the last of the pre-Rising days and how the disaster came on step by step. In the Newsflesh novels, the events of 2014 are almost 30 years in the past. Here, in Countdown, we see first-hand what actually happened that awful summer, from the optimism of a potential cancer cure to an irreversible act of ecoterrorism, all leading to the mutation and spread of a pandemic that changed the world forever. We meet some familiar characters, and also see the people who are basically the founding fathers of the Kellis-Amberlee virus – the creators of the Kellis cure, meant to cure the common cold, and Marburg Amberlee, an engineered virus that can defeat even the most dire of terminal cancer cases. Countdown is scary and dramatic and gave me the biggest case of dread. We know what’s going to happen, but watching it unfold and knowing there’s no chance that it won’t end the way that it does is still somehow crazily fascinating and terrible.

Everglades 

The shortest piece in the collection, Everglades is a view of campus life in the first days after the reality of the zombie apocalypse has hit home, as seen through the eyes of a young grad student who recognizes the cruelty of the natural world. It’s a short, sad, and even beautiful story.

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats

As Mira Grant points out in her introduction to this story, San Diego Comic Con is almost a perfect place to stage an outbreak. You have thousands of people crammed into a confined space, many costumed or so heavily made-up that it’s impossible to gauge their actual condition. There’s little to no cell reception inside the convention hall, so once disaster strikes, communication between those trapped and the outside world effectively ceases. And as we know from countless zombie TV shows and movies, all it takes is one infected person locked inside with everyone else to start a chain reaction. This story shows how the very last Comic Con turned from geeky delight to bloody mayhem, and the bravery of the assorted fanboys and fangirls who made a last stand.

The stories from this point forward take place after the events in the Newsflesh trilogy, or at least, close enough to them that a knowledge of those events is needed – and people who haven’t read the trilogy will end up with massive spoilers. That said, the next batch of stories are:

How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea

Before the Rising, guns were verboten on airplanes, carried only by government agents and representatives of local law enforcement. Now most passengers flew armed, and the flight attendants carried more weapons than your average Irwin. It’s funny how the world can change when no one’s looking.

In which our beloved head Newsie Mahir heads off to Australia to get a first-hand view of how that country and continent made it through the Rising. Australia is still Australia, meaning that it’s a country full of people who are used to living alongside deadly wildlife, and their approach to security in the post-Rising world is vastly different from the paranoid, fear-based approach adopted everywhere else.

“Why would someone who didn’t like the law live out here?” I asked. “Wouldn’t it be easier to move into the city, where there’s less risk of surprise zombie kangaroos?”

The story is entertaining and presents a view of a very different mentality, in a land where animal conservation still matters, even when those animals may amplify, turn into zombies, and eat you. A story that includes zombie kangaroos and wombats can’t help being a blast to read.

The Day the Dead Came To Show and Tell

It was a small, claustrophobic space. The shelves were packed with basic school supplies: paper, crayons, extra ammunition, formalin, bleach.

This story was the hardest to read in the collection. It just hits way too close to home right now. This story is about an outbreak in an elementary school, and unfolds moment by moment as the infection spreads, the school goes into lockdown, and one first-grade teacher faces the unthinkable as she tries to save her children. It’s awful. Fascinating and so well written, but awful just the same. With the seemingly never-ending wave of school shootings in this country, reading this story is just heart-breaking and way too relevant.

Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus

Dr. Shannon Abbey is one of the many great side characters in the Newsflesh trilogy, and in this story, we get to spend a little more time with her in her secret mad scientist lair. Dr. Abbey is smart, a little crazy, and lots of fun, and her story here collides with another character seen in an earlier piece in Rise. Plus, we get to see Joe the massive mastiff and Barney the octopus – two big plusses.

“I’m a mad scientist, aren’t I? We all have master plans. Without them, we’d just be faintly disgruntled scientists who think we really ought to form a committee to discuss our grievances.”

The next two (and final two) stories in Rise are new to this collection, the only two not to have been previously published either in anthologies or stand-alone versions.

All the Pretty Little Horses

All the Pretty Little Horses takes us back once again to the early days of the Rising. The year is 2018, and we’re back with Michael and Stacy Mason, who’ve become famous for their radio broadcasts giving survival tips and offering encouragement during the really bad years. Now that the world is starting to find a new normal, Stacy is plunged into depression, desperately mourning the young son lost  in the early days of the Rising. This story shows how the Masons became the people we meet in the Newsflesh trilogy, hardened stars of the blogosphere who’ll do anything for ratings. And while this story didn’t truly make me like them, at least it shows a bit more of the desperation that turned them into the people they became.

 

And finally…

Coming To You Live

This is it. The story we’ve all been waiting for. It’s about Shaun and Georgia, and… well, I’m just not going to say a word about it. No matter what I say, it’ll be spoilery. Let’s just say that it was a perfect end piece for the collection, and it left me just as in love with the characters and the overarching world of Newsflesh as before, or may just a smidge more.

And that’s all, folks!

Rise is essential reading for fans of Newsflesh – and if you’ve made it this far in my lengthy post, I’m assuming you’re a fan too! I’m a little bit heartbroken to have reached the end. Yes, I know there’s still the 2016 novel Feedback to read, but it’s not about the characters I know and love, and I’m just not ready to go there yet. I’ll read it eventually (or maybe even later this week), but for now I just want to bask in the glory of all things Newsflesh, and the amazing stories in Rise, just a little bit longer.

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The details:

Title: Rise: The Complete Newsflesh Collection
Author: Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: June 21, 2016
Length: 816 pages (mass market paperback)
Genre: Horror/science fiction
Source: Purchased

Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday: Symbiont

There’s nothing like a Wednesday for thinking about the books we want to read! My Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday post is linking up with two fabulous book memes, Wishlist Wednesday (hosted by Pen to Paper) and Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine).

My most wished-for book this week is:

Symbiont (Parasitology, #2)

Symbiont by Mira Grant
(to be released November 25, 2014)

Synopsis via 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.

Mira Grant’s Parasite is one of the grossest books I’ve read in a long time… and I loved it. (You can see my review here.) I can’t wait to read the sequel, even though I know the ickiness factor will be sky-high. Tapeworms! Shudder.

What are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Looking for some bookish fun on Thursdays and Fridays? Come join me for my regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday! You can find out more here — come share the book love!

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Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

The Monday Agenda 11/4/2013

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)The Tulip EatersThe Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man's Canyon

Parasite by Mira Grant: Done! My review is here.

The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten: Done! My review is here.

The Expeditioners by S. S. Taylor: Done! My son and I really loved this steampunk adventure. My review is here.

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week, and it’s gorgeous! I’m thrilled to have my very own copy of the brand-new Fables Encyclopedia:

Fables Encyclopedia

If you’re a Fables fan, you’re going to want this! And if you’re not a Fables fan, what are you waiting for? Fables is my super-duper, absolute favorite comic series. Start with the first paperback volume (Legends in Exile), and you’ll be hooked!

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?
Palace of SpiesBellman & Black: A Ghost StoryThe Rosie Project

I’ve just started Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel, and so far, it’s a lot of fun.

After that, I’ll be reading one review book and one library book:

  • Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

HootAnd in the world of reading with my kiddo, we’ve just started Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. We read Chomp earlier this year and loved it, so we have high hopes for Hoot as well. Judging by the first few chapters, this should be a… hoot (no, I won’t go there!) blast.

Once I finish Bellman & Black, I’ll be caught up on my review copies! I still have quite a few more to get through, but none are late (except for the ones I intentionally held off on, and even those, I’ll get to in the coming month).

Do you know what that means? I can finally start digging into my Pile of Sadness (aka, the books I simply HAD to buy the second they came out, but haven’t allowed myself to read yet)! Next week should be fun too:

book pile

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

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Book Review: Parasite

Book Review: Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)In the year 2027, human beings are healthier than ever thanks to the Intestinal Bodyguard™, a leap forward in healthcare brought to us by the biomedical geniuses behind billion-dollar corporation SymboGen. Nearly everyone now has an Intestinal Bodyguard, which is a safe, effective method of providing ongoing medical care, such as effectively eliminating allergies and other medical issues stemming from our society’s over-reliance on anti-bacterial soaps and other sterilizing methods — which, according to the “hygiene hypothesis”, have led to a decrease in our ability to defend ourselves from our own environments.

And, oh yes, did I mention that the Intestinal Bodyguard is a genetically modified tapeworm?

All together now: Ewwwwww.

Our narrator and point-of-view character in this engrossing (and sometimes just gross) novel is Sally Mitchell, a sort of medical miracle herself. Sally was in a devastating car accident six years prior to the beginning of Parasite, as a result of which Sally was declared brain dead and her family was forced to confront the decision to discontinue life support. But… miracle! Sally’s Intestinal Bodyguard implant seems to have jump-started her body’s healing, and she survived with no lasting physical impairment, other than a complete and seemingly permanent case of amnesia.

Sally — now preferring to go by Sal — has had to rebuild herself and her life from the ground up, relearning language, social niceties, and how to read, among other tasks. In some respects, when we meet her, she’s been alive for only six years, as she has no knowledge of the person she was before, and is told repeatedly that she seems like a completely different person. Sal also owes her life to SymboGen, which provides her with all of her ongoing medical care and therapy at no cost, in return for which she is required to submit to regular check-ups and testing.

But this is a medical thriller, and as you might expect, when humans start tinkering, things have a tendency to go very wrong, very quickly. Cases of a bizarre type of sleepwalking start popping up, as people seem to check out suddenly and become completely non-responsive, even as their bodies continue to live and move. And once in the sleepwalking state, people don’t wake up again. As the cases mount and incidents escalate, both the government and SymboGen take an active interest, as it becomes clear that the danger is growing and that an epidemic may be underway.

Conveniently, Sal’s boyfried Nathan is a parasitologist, and as the clues pile up, Sal and Nathan start to realize that SymboGen may not be telling the whole story, and there are secrets to be discovered if they dare to look for them.

Parasite is creepy good, and so hard to look away from! Interspersed within the narrative are interviews, journal entries, and other documentation of the processes behind SymboGen’s discoveries, and these let us know that all is not as it seems. The tension and dread mount, chapter by chapter, as we readers discover well ahead of the characters that something is very, very wrong.

Mira Grant tackles the science head-on, providing a LOT of explanation of parasites in general, the science surrounding genetic engineering, and how biotech companies approach testing and FDA approval. At times, the amount of exposition involved verges on information overload, as it involves page after page of scientists explaining their research methods and innovations. Interesting, yes, but also just a heap of information provided in intensive doses.

Sal is an interesting and sympathetic character — and even in her moments of abject terror and confusion, she shows a certain feistiness and humor that help break the tension. (Want examples? See this week’s Thursday Quotables post!). Many of the secondary characters are quite strong as well, including one who is memorable in a disturbing, slightly psychotic yet endearing sort of way. I liked the San Francisco setting, which the author uses effectively to ground the story in a real place with recognizable social and geographic markers.

Overall, I’d rate Parasite quite highly. It’s definitely disturbing and will give you a big case of the ickies. I mean, if reading about tapeworms makes you happy, then you’ll love this book — but otherwise, you’ll shudder and shiver from start to end. There are sections that I thought went on a bit too long, and at 500+ pages, I did feel that I would have appreciated a little tightening up in general. That said, though, the story is original and compelling, hard to put down, and utterly impossible to get out of your mind after an up-too-late reading session.

I’m hooked, and may have actually squeaked out a “No! Don’t make me wait!” slightly after midnight last night, when I reached the final page and saw those three little words I hate so much: To Be Continued. From what I understand, Parasite is book one in a duology, and while I couldn’t find a release date for book #2, I did see that it has a title, Symbiont. In my opinion, it can’t come soon enough!

Meanwhile, I think I’ll seek out the author’s Newsflesh trilogy, just to make sure I don’t run out of creepy, upsetting, icky things to read before Parasitology #2 is released. Which is worse — zombies or tapeworms? I’ll get back to you on that one.

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The details:

Title: Parasite (Parasitology series, #1)
Author: Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication date: 2013
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of Orbit via NetGalley