Author: Mira Grant
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
Mira Grant certainly has a knack for exciting stories, deep conspiracies, and gross outs. Sal Mitchell (formerly Sally) has a second lease on life. Six years earlier she was in a car accident that, by all accounts, should have proved fatal. But as the daughter of an army colonel who also happens to be the head of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), she has been among the first people to get an intestinal bodyguard (the euphemism for the tape worm in her body, engineered to act as a medical implant). Instead of dying, she finds herself waking up in a hospital with no memory, facing a long road to recovery.
In the present day, Sal has spent six years relearning everything from language to coordination to social niceties. She has carved out a new life, though still under the guardianship of her parents (despite being 27 years old). She has a satisfying job at an animal shelter, a loving boyfriend who is a parasitologist, a chance to have better relationships with her family than her pre-accident self enjoyed, oh - and standing appointments at SymboGen.
SymboGen is the massive and profitable company that has the patent on the intestinal bodyguard. In the aftermath of her accident, Sal has had a host of health issues and has needed extensive therapy (both psychological and behavioral). SymboGen not only covers the costs and keeps her close, but seem to be observing nearly every aspect of her life. Though SymboGen has worked hard to present a PR face of being a benevolent do-gooder, Sal is suspicious of them and their intentions.
The book moves well and has perfectly serviceable characters. The reader isn't particularly surprised as it becomes increasingly clear that the intestinal bodyguards aren't as harmless as they are billed, or when SymboGen's intentions are revealed to be firmly focused on the bottom line and instead of the public good. A massive company with impure motives? Not particularly groundbreaking. The idea that the majority of earth's inhabitants have swallowed (pun intended) what SymboGen was selling strains credulity a bit (humans have a fairly pronounced ick factor and willingly becoming the symbiote of a parasitic tape worm would have definitely triggered it). But there is an interesting blend of science into this fiction, and as major players are revealed in the book we meet far more interesting characters (though one certainly qualifies as a partial stereotype), and some nicely conflicting aims. The war is coming, and it seems everyone will have to pick sides. First in a trilogy.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...