In Parasite we met Sal Mitchell, or Sally as she doesn’t like to be called. She had been in a car crash, had suffered amnesia and was trying to rebuild her memories and her life. Or so she thought.
So now Sal needs to deal with the implications of that.
And then there is the fact that all over San Francisco, and the world, the parasites that were supposed to be helping people are killing them. Eating their brains and taking control. Only they aren’t doing a very good job, and now their are hordes of zombie-tapeworms out there, only interested in their next meal.
Sal has a lot to deal with.
And if you don’t like her, and her voice then you won’t like this book. Because it is a first person narrator, and you will be seeing everything, with some small exceptions, through her eyes. Those exceptions being the diaries of various people that start each chapter. Luckily for me, I really like Sal. I’ve come a long way since the days when encountering that “I” in a book would make me stop reading. It can still be the mark o a really bad book, a cheap and lazy way for the author to create a world, but in the right hands first person narration is a wonderful thing.
The first book was all about the build-up to the zombie apocalypse, Symbiont is about how people deal, or don’t, with the zombie uprising. Complicated by the fact that there is a faction out there encouraging the rising, hoping the zombies will take over, because, you see, some of those tapeworms are sentient, and they aren’t interested in co-existing with humans. They want to take over and use their hosts as nothing more than a convenient moveable house.
While I was reading The Winter Long I was struck by the theme of how ignorance and lies, even if well-intentioned, are never protection. They only serve to harm, and I mentioned in my review that it reminded me of how Sal felt in Parasite. This still holds true for Symbiont although in this book Sal is much more autonomous and sure of herself, even when she doesn’t really know what is going on. She’s not prepared to do what she’s told just because someone thinks they know what’s best for her.
It is a book that raises all sorts of questions over autonomy and what is that makes a person a person.
And there is more of the fictional Don’t go out alone story book, which I’d still love to see made. It sounds so creepy and delicious.
I almost forgot to mention Tansy, whom I wasn’t too enamoured of in the first book. Here she has a very minor role, but … damn! and her oddness is explained, in a way.
Unfortunately this is the middle book in the series and so it really can’t stand on its own feet. It is also probably a little too long, there is some repetition in the book, which I think is mean to help the reader realise exactly what it is that Sal has gone through in her short life, and what she has to overcome. Some may find it annoying, I read the book in almost one sitting, so it obviously didn’t irritate me at all :)