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Parasite Eve by Hideaki Sena
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Parasite Eve

by Hideaki Sena

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Parasite Eve begins with the death of Kiyomi Nagashima. While driving, she suddenly blacks out and has the same dream she had previously only had on her birthday, a dream in which she is a worm-like being swimming through fluid. She recovers from her dream just in time to hit a telephone pole.

Toshiaki Nagashima, Kiyomi’s husband, is a researcher specializing in mitochondria. When he hears about Kiyomi’s accident, he drops everything and rushes to the hospital. Unfortunately, Kiyomi is brain dead. Toshiaki and Kiyomi’s parents agree to honor Kiyomi’s desire to be a kidney donor, but Toshiaki has one secret request of his own: he would like a sample of Kiyomi’s liver.

Kiyomi’s kidneys go to an unnamed man and a 14-year-old girl named Mariko Anzai, and Toshiaki gets the liver cells he so badly wanted. While Mariko struggles with guilt and fear over her latest transplant, Toshiaki is happily convinced that since Kiyomi’s liver cells are still alive and thriving, she isn’t actually dead. What no one realizes is that there is a monster hiding inside Kiyomi’s cells, and it’s slowly becoming strong enough to take the next step in its evolution.

I’m going to start by saying that I’ve never played the game of the same title and I have no idea how its events compare to those in this book. According to Wikipedia it’s a sequel, so my only hope is that it left Mariko and Asakura alone.

I don’t know what I was expecting from Parasite Eve, but it left me feeling so underwhelmed and disgusted that I’m glad it was a library checkout rather than a purchase. I’m a horror wimp, and even I wasn’t scared by this book. It was more gross and ridiculous than anything.

It started off okay. I was intrigued by the mystery of Kiyomi’s cells. I wanted to see how things would play out with Toshiaki’s creepy liver cell project and Mariko’s transplant. It was clear that Mariko had a lot of issues where transplants, her transplant surgeon, and her father were concerned, so I also wanted to know what had happened with her first transplant - the kidney she received from Kiyomi was actually her second kidney transplant. The author’s medical- and science-related descriptions were sometimes more detailed than I would have preferred, but I did learn a few interesting things about transplants, particularly how they were viewed in Japan at the time the book was written. I hope attitudes have improved since then.

I became more and more impatient as the story progressed and nothing much happened. Kiyomi’s cells continued to grow, the being in Kiyomi’s cells wriggled happily whenever she thought about Toshiaki (the being was female), and Mariko became increasingly closed off. I was wishing for Kiyomi’s cells to do something long before they actually did.

For a book in which femaleness played such an important role, the female characters were incredibly disappointing. Asakura, Toshiaki’s assistant, was simply a way for readers to see how odd Toshiaki was acting. Mariko became little more than a host and incubator for Kiyomi’s monster. I enjoyed the scenes of Kiyomi’s childhood, but it wasn’t long before the flashbacks revealed that her life had been taken from her long before she slammed into that telephone pole. It was depressing.

Even the being in Kiyomi’s cells was disappointing. Even though she was millions of years old, Toshiaki, a man whose life should have been barely a blip in her existence, was suddenly her sole focus. When shefinally began to create a body of her own, she designed it primarily to please Toshiaki, starting with lips, and then a breast with a perfectly formed nipple, then a vagina and womb, and finally a finger, which she promptly used to masturbate and make sure all her parts were ready for Toshiaki.The being’s hyper-focus on Toshiaki did turn out to have a point beyond “Toshiaki understands me best,” but it was off-putting all the same.

I was glad when the action finally began to pick up in the last third of the book, but I came to regret my decision to continue reading when the monster rape scenes happened. There were two,one involving Toshiaki that was presented more as sperm theft than as the horrifying rape it actually was, and one involving 14-year-old Mariko. While I was thankful that Mariko was unconscious throughout both her rape and her monstrous pregnancy, I sincerely wish that the author had written her rape with less detail. I did not need to know how much pleasure the being derived from that act. Also, it upset me that the things that happened to Mariko were presented as more horrifying for her father, who witnessed some of it, than for Mariko herself. Even though she was unconscious, it was her body that was invaded and her body that was horrifically used.

The final showdown was just ridiculous. In my mind I pictured it with cheap special effects and bad acting, like something out of a B-movie. All in all, I don't recommend this book.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 13, 2017 |
Pharmacology and unexpected blob sex scenes. ( )
  Hack | Jan 18, 2015 |
Parasite Eve, by Hideaki Sena. Vertical, Inc. 2005 (orig. pub. Japan 1995)

This horror novel was a huge hit in Japan, and spawned both a videogame and a movie. I found myself of two minds about the book, which in one way is a sort of modern Frankenstein.

On the one level, Sena throws a new spin on the horror cliché of ‘transplanted body part carries personality and power with it’. In his version, it’s not the personality of the dead person that carries with the transplant; the mitochondria in the cells has evolved to have personality and great power. It is it’s own being, and it has plans.

The book, after a certain point, did give me the creeps. There are a lot of ‘oh, yuck!’ moments, as well as slithery-thing-in-the-dark ones. This is good.

Sadly, I didn’t get those creeps until I was at least 150 pages in. We know early on that *something* is wrong, but it’s not horrifying. A great deal of time is spent explaining the science behind the idea- this is the first horror book I’ve ever seen with a section of scientific definitions to help the reader follow along. There is even a bibliography. Because I have an interest in such things, I was able to follow along without a problem, but I have to think that flipping back and forth to the definitions would break up the story for some readers. Until the second half of the book, the pace is glacial. After that, it does pick up nicely. I read the book in one sitting, but while part of that was that I was eager to see what happened, it was also partly that I felt ill and it was too hot to get off the couch and do something else.

I think the book has a great premise, but like a lot of things I’ve read lately, it could have used a sterner editor.
  lauriebrown54 | Aug 5, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hideaki Senaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grillo, TyranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Filled with scientific acuity and existential challenges in the tradition of Ghost In The Shell and Frankenstein, this medical fantasmagoria is a disorienting look into consciousness and will have you questioning the future of human evolution. New life begins at the cellular level, but when that cell contains restless mitochondria, it will aspire to be much more than just a speck in a Petri dish. Parasite Eve was the basis of a hugely popular videogame of the same name and has been cinematized in Japan, where the novel's smashing success helped set off a horror boom that has only been intensifying ever since." "When Dr. Nagashima loses his wife in a mysterious car crash, he is overwhelmed with grief but also an eerie sense of purpose; he becomes obsessed with the idea that he must reincarnate his dead wife. Her donated kidney is transplanted into a young girl with a debilitating disorder, but the doctor also feels compelled to keep a small sample of her liver in his laboratory. When these cells start mutating rapidly, a consciousness bent on determining its own fate awakes from an eonic sleep."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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