The second in Grant’s new series (Parasite, 2013) featuring a society battling a tapeworm takeover picks up with the adventures of Sal Mitchell, a tapeworm that’s overcome her host’s body.
The series premise is that a company called SymboGen developed a tapeworm implant to help humans regulate their health issues. But the tapeworms turn out to be sentient beings, and once they realize where they are, they claim their hosts. Most affected humans become zombielike creatures known as “sleepwalkers.” As this book begins, it's the fall of 2027 in the San Francisco Bay area. Sal suffered brain damage in a car accident, after which her tapeworm chewed through her body into her brain and took over. Unlike the tapeworm/humans who became sleepwalkers, Sal developed a personality, found Nathan, her boyfriend, and helped him fight against the evil Dr. Steven Banks of SymboGen. Her sister Tansy, also a tapeworm, is missing, presumably held captive by SymboGen, and as Sal suffers through one fainting episode after another, sleepwalkers turn the area into a bloody battleground. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Sherman, another of Banks’ creations, who does everything evil but twirl his handlebar mustache, works hard to bring the tapeworms to power. Grant stumbles in this volume: There's an oddly clumsy attempt to justify Sal’s fear of riding in cars, and readers will find it hard to root for any character in this much-too-long novel. Sal, the tapeworm, is a creepily unsympathetic protagonist; Nathan the boyfriend is a human who, when he finds out his girlfriend is really a tapeworm, doesn’t find it disturbing; and none of the other characters are particularly compelling. The upcoming tapeworm apocalypse will probably make most readers feel queasy rather than pique their interest.
For those who’ve been pining for a human/tapeworm romance.