It’s been five months since Vertex’s wonder drug, Paragon, was unleashed on the world, albeit unintentionally. And since that time, life has pretty much gone to hell. Jarod Samuels and Gabriel Anderson have retreated to a local mall, where they’re holed up with other survivors. But the power is gone, food is running low, and the Paragon victims have become something terrifying.
It would be easy to call them zombies, but they’re more than that. The Paragon victims are undead, but intelligent, capable of planning and remembering, and possessed of a terrible hunger that never ends. The human survivors face an army of their families and friends, now twisted and corrupted. For Jarod and Gabriel, every day is about survival and hanging onto the love they have. The dead are rising and something waits behind them, sinister and calculating. And monsters hide around every corner.
My biggest fear before reading this book was that Parasite would lose the impetus created by Monster. I shouldn’t have worried. With Parasite we see the resurrection (puns ahoy) of the rather tired idea of zombies, but done in such a novel and eerie way, it was impossible not to enjoy the ride. Parasite continues to build on the foundation laid by Monster and keeps the idea of survival fresh and clever. The enemy here, at least the obvious one, is not merely a shuffling corpse, but a walking, talking, conceptual terror. These zombies understand survival of the fittest. They kill the weaker of their own kind to fuel the intellect and cunning of the stronger. Paragon was created to regenerate and repair and to some extent it continues to work even after death. It means the survivors are fighting an organized army with little more than bats and nails. It’s makes for a properly creepy menace that kept me riveted.
Jarod and Gabriel are stronger than ever and utterly entwined with one another. But the author does a good job of reminding us that even in the middle of an apocalypse, humans are emotional, foolish creatures. There are jealousies, self-doubt, fear, and cowardice and Jarod and Gabriel must deal with it all while trying to stay alive. As with the initial book, Parasite provides us with an array of monsters, both human and otherwise, and they add to the struggles with which Jarod especially must contend. The only blip of ridiculousness in Parasite is the revelation of the larger evil behind the zombies. It feels forced and a bit silly. That said, this author has surprised me more than once and I’m willing to believe this could turn around in the next book.
Parasite was an excellent follow up to Monster and the series continues to be a thoroughly enjoyable horror/romance. Jarod and Gabriel are a sweet and strong couple and despite their insecurities or perhaps because of them, it’s easy to become invested in their story. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Vertex series and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys their men tough, their emotion strong, and their zombies cleverer than most.