Wednesday, December 04, 2013

"Parasite Positive" - Scott Westerfeld

So here's a review of "Parasite Positive" by Scott Westerfeld excerpted from here:
The book follows nineteen year old Cal, as he is on the tail of Sarah, the last of his girlfriends he has infected with the parasite (while not a full blown vampire he is a carrier). Once he has caught her, he can go after his progenitor, Morgan, the girl he lost his virginity to and caught it from.

You see, Cal now works for the Night Watch, and it’s their job to keep New York safe from rabid vampires and stop the spread of the disease.

Only this is much, much bigger that just that; something even worse than an out-break of blood suckers is lurking beneath the New York streets, and secrets centuries old are about to come to the surface, and Cal is going to be right in the middle of it.

I really liked Cal as a character and his developing relationship (and cluelessness) with Lacy a trainee reporter he meets in his search for Morgan, and while this is Cal’s show in regards starring roles, the rest of the supporting cast do an admirable job in keeping the plot moving and dialogue zippy and entertaining

We also get to learn more about parasites than I could ever hope to want to know. Each chapter is intermingled with sections where Cal explains about various parasites, and their particular foibles and reasons for existence. These sections are not just there to make your skin crawl – and they most certainly will do that! – but Cal is using them to illustrate the reasons for the existence of Vampires, and why they are the good guys.

All, in all an excellent read, your skin will crawl and your blood will race, and the next time your cat looks oddly at you, you may just shudder a little!

Scott is a natural SF-thriller writer and this is perfectly pitched for the male adolescent audience (what we call 'young adult'). So having admitted that I enjoyed the book and that the pages turned perfectly adequately, let me make a couple of criticisms.

1. The setting, Manhattan, (and frequently underground Manhattan) is rather claustrophobic - even a writer of Westerfeld's talent struggles to keep yet another case of the hero being chased through dank and dark tunnels fresh and interesting.

2. More importantly, the central premise of the novel is hard to take seriously. Without too many spoilers, we are led to believe that vampirism has something to do with defending humanity against nameless horrors from the deep, barely remembered in ancient legends. The thing is, those evil things just aren't scary enough. Anything a souped-up vampire could do, a tooled up special-forces team could easily surpass. Technology trumps raw evolution.

However, if you can manage to suspend your disbelief, the story is well told and fun.

NB: there is a 'sequel' but reviews suggest that it adds little value.