Sunday, 6 July 2014

Book Review: Parasites Like Us by Adam Johnson




"After trashing his cherry '72 Corvette, illegally breaking into an ancient burial site, and snacking on 12,000-year-old popcorn, Hank Hannah finds that he's inadvertently unleashed the apocalypse. Hank, a professor of anthropology back in the days when there were still co-eds to ogle and now one of only twelve humans still alive on earth, decides to record the last days of human civilization for whomever - or whatever - might replace us."

The description for Parasites Like Us led me to believe that it would be a post apocalyptic novel but actually the vast majority of the book describes the events that gradually lead to disaster. It's a very odd book if I'm honest, I enjoyed the story but not always the writing. Taken as a straightforward tale of how ordinary people inadvertently bring about disaster then it's an enjoyable enough premise. The characters however, aren't the easiest to engage with, Hank veers towards the clich├ęd, jaded professor with a sometime alcohol problem and the other characters whilst of some interest being quirky, damaged types don't always feel well-rounded and are somewhat stereotypical. Despite this I read on - and was met with some dialogue I really shuddered at. Would a college professor really say, "She carried a sheaf of paper, a wad of tissue, and a bottle of water as she strode before us in a charcoal suit that was all business, except for a V of ultrawhite skin that plunged deep into her num-nums." Perhaps even worse, "Oh, the caprice of history was limitless, and it was my job to tame this bitch."
For a time I considered giving up but as I said before the story itself whilst not absolutely compelling was enough to keep me reading and finally I was rewarded with a few chapters of genuine tension with humanity laid bare as I'd expect in a novel of this sort. If only more of the book could have been the same. Not a classic then but a mostly fun read.
I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for my unbiased review.

Parasites Like Us is published in the UK by Transworld Publishers


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