Author: Mira Grant
Released: Novermber 25th 2015
Warnings: Torture/invasive procedures
Symbiont is the second novel in Mira Grant’s Parasitology series. It’s one part thriller and one part science fiction, but the end result is a tense and fascinating read that will make you question what truly makes us human.
The second novel picks up more or less where the first one left off. It has the same characters and the same dystopian world. The more thriller elements border towards cronenberg levels of disturbing, but it makes for an interesting tale nonetheless.
Mira Grant is the pen name of Seanan McGuire. She uses Mira Grant more for her science fiction, thriller, and horror novels and her real name more for fantasy and graphic novels. At least it’s easy to remember which name is on which series this way!
Warnings: If you’re read Parasite then you already have an idea of what you’re in for, with a few exceptions. This novel may not be great for people who have a fear of losing control over their own bodies, or those that don’t want to hear a lot of medical talk. There are also several dissection scenes – on a living specimen, mind you – that feels like torture. As in, the person getting cut is being tortured. They were pretty rough. Admittedly I think it had more to do with the implications than what was actually said…
One more thing, before I start my review. I promise you that the dogs are fine. I think I mentioned that at the beginning of my review for Parasite, and honestly I was even more anxious during a couple of points during Symbiont, so it feels important to mention.
Symbiont was just as spine-tingling as its predecessor. I don’t think I could have read this book more quickly if I tried – I just had to see what was going to happen next. It became impossible to put this novel down. Not without worrying about what was going to happen to Sal or Tanzie or dozens of other characters.
Speaking of other characters, I feel like a few of the secondary characters in the first novel really got a chance to shine here. I really enjoyed learning about them. Some were humans working on the side of Dr. Kale. Others I had merely suspected the existence of, like Sherman’s Chimeras. It was fascinating seeing the different personalities and ways of handling the situation. The situation, of course, is that the world is more or less collapsing down among them.
I especially loved reading about Fishy and Rodney. I feel like both had especially compelling narratives, and while they may not have been the sanest people around (can I call both of them people?), they were certainly unique. They added a little flair to the series.
Looking back on it, it’s actually almost hard to believe that everything that happened fit inside one book. It feels more like I just finished reading two or three books. So yeah, it probably goes without saying that Sal goes through a lot in this novel, as does all of humanity, for that matter.
I loved reading about Sal’s growing acceptance of who and what she is. It was fascinating watching her go through that process. And that fascination was doubled when I got to see how others reacted to her status as well. Everyone has picked a side by now, and it seems like the side they chose more or less foretold how they’d feel about Sal and the other Chimeras.
I feel like Symbiont was even more complex than the first novel. Not necessarily the writing or anything like that – just that everyone seemed to have a complicated goal, plan, and so on. Most of the key players were ones that were introduced in the first novel, which helped.
I’m feeling anxious to start reading Chimera now. While this novel didn’t exactly end in a cliffhanger…it was close enough where I’m willing to count it in the category. I wouldn’t say that I know that all of the main characters are safe, though I don’t think they’re in immediate danger either…so that’s something. Thankfully Chimera is already out and waiting to be read.