Chimera by Mira Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the third book in the Parasitology series, and it is by far the best. The plot is tighter and better paced, the characters are more fleshed out (particularly the protagonist), and the author is grappling with several important themes. What makes someone sapient? What makes someone a person? Now that the genetically engineered tapeworms have found a way to take over their hosts, what will be done with them? Are they property...or are they people?
Sal Mitchell, the tapeworm in a human suit and our narrator, is a far better character here than in the previous two installments. Her passiveness and ambivalence irritated me in the first books, but now that I've read the story as a whole, I can see how she's changed. She's not a karate-kicking badass in this book, but she takes charge and stands up for herself and her species. She engineers an escape from her human captors; she calms a huge group of "sleepwalkers" (worms and hosts that have not fully integrated, similar to zombies) with her chimera pheromones; and she leads the rescue effort in the final showdown. The Sal in the first book couldn't have done any of this.
(In fact, the character I'm more irritated with in this book, and in the series as a whole, is Sal's human boyfriend, Nathan Kim. He is a stagnant character, verging on cardboard. He takes the news that his girlfriend isn't human, but is instead a tapeworm buried in a human brain, with an equanimity that simply isn't believable. Certainly he could have been written to come around eventually, but there should have been some conflict shown over the whole idea.)
This is a solid, entertaining book, from one of my favorite authors. It's not as outstanding as some others I've read this year, but it's good.
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