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 clichéd, 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