Possibly the most famous horror novel to come out of Japan, Parasite Eve holds the lofty honour of being the first ever recipient of the Japan Horror Novel Award. First published in 1995 it was eventually translated & released this side of the world in 2007.
Its story is a fascinating tale of love & devotion interweaved with an imaginative parasite intent on world domination that also leans heavily towards legitimate science. It makes for an exciting read if not a bit confusing at times.
In this plot description I’m going to avoid the science part of the tale as it’s incredibly detailed & difficult to follow out of context. Kiyomi Nagishima has a parasite in her that has been waiting for a chance to rise using her own cells against her. Eve as she is known causes Kiyomi to crash her car rendering her brain-dead. Her heart broken husband, Toshiaki a researcher in biological science agrees to turn her life support off as well as donating her kidneys to those awaiting new ones.
Eve is in those kidneys too & influences those around her to do her bidding unwittingly. One kidney is given to a young girl, Mariko who will play host to Eve’s future daughter. Meanwhile Toshiaki, desperate to keep some part of his wife alive harvests some of her liver cells & is shocked to discover that they are growing & seeming to take on the form of his dead wife’s face. Unknown to him his is Eve preparing to take what she needs from him, his sperm.
Eventually her plan comes together & she rapes Toshiaki extracting what she needs. Leaving him a broken mess she rushes off to implant Mariko & bring about the birth of her daughter…and the end of the world.
However, Eve didn’t count on Toshiaki’s determination to stop her, realising that he has been used all along he sets out to destroy the parasite & honour his wife at the same time.
I think I’ve made that sound pretty exciting…and it is after a big section of medical & scientific detailing. While being important for the reader so that they can understand exactly what Eve is & what she wants it’s so detailed that it’s a struggle to follow along at times.
At the half-way point I had no idea that I was actually reading a horror book & thought I’d accidentally picked up a medical journal. It’s so detailed, so in-depth that it’s actually a distraction from the characters around you.
That being said it does set the scene well for the latter half as Eve reveals herself to the world & sets about bringing an end to everything.
The book is very descriptive & her power will leave you in awe. Those that get in her way don’t stand a chance & you’ll feel real sympathy for those who lose their lives here. Most of all you’ll sympathise with Toshiaki who has lost his wife & is struggling to move on. His methods, while seeming crazy actually prepare him to understand Eve better than anyone else.
The ending is bitter sweet, it was difficult to see how it might finish but the resolution is satisfying as we see Eve make one fatal mistake, something she didn’t consider & it is her undoing.
A difficult read at times but one that will leave you feeling content. The story is something of an epic & it leaves you unsure of how it will end right until the final few pages.
Parasite Eve (Hideaki Sena)