Book Cover
Title The Host
Series ---
Author Stephanie Meyer
Cover Art Claire Artman
Publisher Back Bay Books - 2010
First Printing Little, Brown and Company - 2008
Category Science Fiction
Warnings None

Main Characters

Wanderer, Melanie, Jared, Jamie, Ian, Jeb

Main Elements Aliens

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. But Wanderer, the invading "soul" who occupies Melanie's body, finds its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who has avoided invasion and lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Soon Wanderer and Melanie - reluctant allies - set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, The Host is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

Whatever her faults may be (mostly angst overdoses), Meyer is a great world and species builder. I really enjoyed this novel. It was a light read, I was going through 150 pages a day, with some compelling ethical situations that really make you think.

Wanderer is a small, silvery worm that can only survive inside a host body. Once inserted, a "soul" takes complete control, wiping out the original host. Therein is the first issue. These aliens are not just murderers, they drive entire species to extinction. While yes, the body lives, the person who once was in that body does not. Is that not the equivalent of killing? And yet the souls honestly believe the are making the world a better place. They were horrified when one of the other species the colonized curled up and committed suicide rather than allow the souls to be implanted in them. But they could not see, from the point of view of the host species, that one death is pretty much the same as the other. They do not believe in violence, they are incredibly polite and gentle, you can't help but like them...except they have wiped out nearly every human mind on the planet, and many more alien minds elsewhere.

Those other planets are made up of some fantastical creatures too. You have telepathic seaweed that live for hundreds of years. You have bears like being living on ice planets using special claws to sculpt ice cities. And Wanderer knows that it is like to be almost every one of them, her own species being near immortal as long as they can find a healthy host.

And then there is the question of who we are. Wanderer has access to all of Melanie's memories (aside from the fact Melanie is still there). Because of this she falls in love with Jared, whom Melanie loved as well. If we are but a collection of memories, is Wanderer any different from Melanie? Or is there something more? What if the love felt was not that of a lover, but of a brother? What happens when you love both Melanie and Wanderer, in one body, but as different people? Or worse, if you love one but hate the other? Confusing? That's why I liked it so much.

Now this book was marketed as an "adult" novel, as opposed to the "young adult" Twilight series. To be honest, other than the ages of the characters involved, there was very little difference in theme and tone. So if you really couldn't handle someone wondering if they were good enough for someone else, and having a LOT of pages dedicated to just repeatedly lost in your own misery, then this probably isn't the book for you. However, I found the conflict much different here. Rather than an innocent yearning for someone dangerous, it is the dangerous one yearning for someone...well not innocent, but you get the idea. In fact, the story is told from the point of view of the real villain!

But as the other characters discovered, once you got to know her, she herself rather than her species as a whole, you can't help but like her (another interesting conundrum, you would need to destroy her species to save your own, but you happen to like her as an individual). To the point where there is a rather ethically questionable ending (although conveniently acceptable), which I won't say more about for the risk of giving it away!

Meyer is apparently planning a trilogy, with the next two books planned out. But as she said, it's a dangerous world, and characters she, and we, are close to will most likely die. She's not sure she wants to write a book like that. So for now, I've reviewed this as a standalone and we'll see. To be honest, I thought it made a very good standalone and I think a trilogy might kill the novelty.

Posted: March 2012


Background, images and content (unless otherwise noted) are SunBlind
Do not use without permission.