Jan 12, 2017

Review: Chimera by Mira Grant

Author: Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date: November 24, 2015
Pages/Format: 496, Paperback
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The final book in Mira Grant's terrifying Parasitology trilogy.

The outbreak has spread, tearing apart the foundations of society, as implanted tapeworms have turned their human hosts into a seemingly mindless mob.

Sal and her family are trapped between bad and worse, and must find a way to compromise between the two sides of their nature before the battle becomes large enough to destroy humanity, and everything that humanity has built...including the chimera.

The broken doors are closing. Can Sal make it home?

Book in One Word: Stay

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the Parasitology trilogy, Parasite and Symbiont.

There's probably something very wrong with me if I don't want a series to end--and to leave a world--that's all about a tapeworm apocalypse. Nothing about the world is very appealing. I mean, if you have a genetically engineered tapeworm inside then you've already turned "zombie," are waiting to, or are trying to hide so the turned don't find you and eat you. And yet, I didn't want any of that to end and I didn't want to leave it. And that's something that makes an author--and her book(s)--very successful, if you ask me: that she can create a world that's deadly and terrifying and make you want to stay in it.

Chimera picks up right where Symbiont left off, with Sal (somewhat willingly) in the hands of the military and her (body's) "father." To say what happens next would be rather spoilery, since you don't know whether or not she escapes and what happens if she does or does not. So I have to be rather hush hush about what happens in this finale. But I can--and will--say that Chimera delivers on the character front, allowing appearances from loved and hated characters we've already met, while still introducing a handful of new ones. And while we may only know some characters for a page or ten, they still tend to feel rather real--another one of Mira Grant's successes.

The thing about an apocalyptic novel--or a novel with a world that's facing its ultimate demise and destruction and humanity is hanging off a cliff by its fingers--is that the ending is tricky. You except everyone to either live or die, I think. The latter seems more likely, since how does the world come back from a tapeworm takeover? But you desperately hope for the former, that there is some sort of hope still in existence in such a world. And you want answers, answers to everything--but you may not be able to get that in a dying world, especially when the characters themselves may not live long enough to see those answers. So the ending of Chimera, and this series, was a bit in between for me: it was satisfactory, but I also wanted more.

I have to be a little honest about Chimera and admit that it wasn't my favorite. I very, very, very much liked its predecessors, and I felt that like, but I didn't quite feel it here. Part of the problem definitely could've been me: I wasn't able to sit and read and devour this like I did the rest of the trilogy, and I think that might have affected the book as a whole. (To compare, I read the other two in three to four days; Chimera took nine.) But I also think I may have expected more from this? I mean, it's the grand finale in a series that centers around, among other things, a tapeworm apocalypse. The pacing of this series hasn't really bothered me before since it works for the story that needs to be told, but I think I expected some bangs and booms and pows. And I'd fret a bit when I'd see how few pages were left--and how far away from a clear ending the story was.

Even though Chimera was my least favorite installment in the Parasitology trilogy, it's a trilogy I strangely adore. And really, it's all because of how Mira Grant managed to execute the story and make it so much more than three books about tapeworms turning sentient and trying to take over the world. Sure, this is a tapeworm apocalypse, but it's also an extremely well-paced story with stellar, subtle prose and characters that are very much worth giving a damn for. It's about the fight for humanity and defining what humanity really truly is. It's about going through going broken doors that may never close once they're opened. It all works. And it comes together nicely in a package tied with some genetically modified tapeworm ribbon. I just hate to unwrap it and be done with it.

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? Not quite.
Would I reread it? Yep, especially since I wonder if I might like it more after a reread.
Would I purchase it? I couldn't get this right after finishing Symbiont and it basically almost killed me okay so YES (and of course I already own it).
Who would I recommend it to? You know, it's probably not a series for everyone, and not just because of the tapeworms (which you don't actually really see). If you're not fond of sci-fi and apocalypseish, zombie-esque stuff then this may not float your boat. But I still encourage you to give it a try, because like I've said a million times: it's so much more than that.

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