Title: Parasite (Vertex: Book Two)
Author: Soren Summers
Length: 69k Words
At a Glance: Far be it from me to make a corny cannibal zombie joke, but I devoured this book and loved every bloody word of it.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: It’s been one hundred and forty-five days since the world ended. Paragon has swept through the city of Pleasance like a reaper’s scythe. Now the dead walk the earth, seeking the flesh of the living. Still Jarod Samuels refuses to die.
As a hunter, Jarod safeguards the Hive, the ruined mall he calls home. He exterminates zombies to protect the city’s last few survivors, and to keep Gabriel Anderson unharmed, their lives intertwined now more than ever.
But in a city ravaged by Vertex’s corruption, there’s no telling what dangers each day will bring, whether the threats within the Hive’s walls might be deadlier than those without – or whether monsters from the past still lurk and linger in the city’s shadows.
Review: It’s the end of the world as we know it, at least the world Soren Summers has created in the Vertex series, and it’s so much more than fine.
After this author’s debut novel, Monster, made my Best of 2016 list, it isn’t much of a stretch to say that Parasite, book two in the series, is not only the best book I’ve read year-to-date but that it will make my 2017 list, uncontested. If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic dystopia and horror along the lines of Stephen King’s The Stand, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, The Walking Dead, or even Shaun of the Dead (okay, that one is stretching it a bit), then all I can say is you’re missing out on a utopian reading experience if you don’t delve into the new world order that Paragon has built.
Picking up five months after the end of Monster, Parasite is the all hell that broke loose in the aftermath of Paragon’s unleashing on an unsuspecting Pleasance. As the walking dead stalk the streets of a walled off city, the survivors hole up in a shopping center where they’ve created a Hive community and are attempting to mimic civility while scavenging for the scraps leftover from a once thriving consumerism. It’s a somewhat dangerous place for Jarod Samuels and Gabriel Anderson because they have a secret, one they’re holding close to the chest for fear of being turned out—a fate that’s worse than death, by infinite degrees—but as needs must, justice is meted out to keep the Hive from slipping into chaos.
Summers makes this community of people from different walks of life relatable in its make-up, from the aging Esther who assumes the role of queen bee (and who has a secret of her own), to the workers who assume the roles of hunters, scavengers, innovators, cooks, healers… There is a hierarchy that works among the Hive dwellers, from the elders all the way down to the children, and, of course, when the zombies breach their fortress walls, every able body jumps into the fray. That’s when a person’s most valuable asset becomes their weapon and their will to live. If you’ve no idea how you’d fare in a world where every creature comfort has been lost to one man’s vision of perfect humanity, a world where the line between life and death can be obliterated with a single bite, this novel will at the very least make you think about how much of an asset you would be to the perpetuation of the human race.
As a perfect human contrast to the inhuman threat Jarod, Gabriel, and the rest of the Hive face, the idea that where there is love there will also be conflict holds true. Jealousy, insecurity, fear for one another’s safety, it all brings a layer of realism to the unreality that is their existence now. Jarod and Gabriel’s relationship might have been hard pressed to survive under normal circumstances—may not have even started, if not for Vertex and Gabriel’s lies—but the path to their connection has been paved with blood and mutual dependence. That’s a bond that goes just a bit deeper and while it might not be considered healthy, there is nothing in this setting that can be minimized with a “normal” label.
One of the things that Soren Summers does with a consistent beauty is translate his narrative into gorgeous imagery. Even in its horrific and morbid portrayal, each zombie encounter is stunning in its terror and violence and the uncertainty of who will and won’t come out on the other side alive. It’s his ability to draw the reader in by the senses that makes these books so engrossing, and it’s not an exaggeration at all to say that I see the story as much as I read it. Jonathan Hargrove appearing on page is enough to send a chill down my spine—better the devil you know? In his case, the answer to that is a definitive not. He is a conundrum of deadly proportions and composed in creepy perfection, as is this book and this series.
And yet somehow, in the end, Summers at his crafty best manages to leave us with a small ray of hope for the survival of mankind. He also has left me anticipating book three with unhealthy levels of obsession and impatience.
You can buy Parasite here: