“The Host” by Stephenie Meyer
I was rather late to the Twilight phenomenon – Book/Movie Review and Series Review – but my love and awe for the series and the writer are intense nonetheless. A month ago I picked up her novel, The Host, not realizing that it had actually been released in May of 2008! Whatever the case, I was excited to read her new material and see if it was as amazing as the Twilight series. The answer is No, but close. I had read a few blurbs about The Host on her official website – StephenieMeyer.com – so knew that it was completely different than her other work. Primarily this meant no vampires, more adult in tone, and sci-fi. All fine by me! This proved to be true and I was not disappointed in any significant way. Before I say more about my opinion, here as a synopsis from her website:
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.
Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.
When Melanie, one of the few remaining “wild” humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
Wanderer probes Melanie’s thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer’s mind with visions of the man Melanie loves—Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.
This is a far more ‘serious’ novel then the Twilight books. Not to diminish the excellence of her vampire series in the least (and I confess that I prefer them over The Host), this novel is deeper and more thought-provoking. She creates characters that are diverse and real whether you love them or hate them. There is a fair amount of action and adventure, fighting and mayhem, but in what seems her typical style, Meyer focuses on the relationships between her characters. In this case it is primarily the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer. There is a love story, several in fact, but the main thrust is how these two personalities learn to cohabit and come to a peace with each other. It is written in the first person, like Twilight, but with both Melanie and Wanderer speaking. Excellently done.
Do not let a dislike of sci-fi keep you away! As with her vampires, Meyer creates an alien culture and future world that is unique and intriguing. It is sci-fi, but like all well done futuristic tales, it feels plausible. She beautifully and carefully presents both sides of the invasion so that you truly do understand and sympathize. The further you read the more you grow to love these people and the anxiety of how it will work out escalates. She builds the tension, romantic entanglements, interpersonal situations, and drama to a fever pitch, bringing it all to a satisfying conclusion.Overall I give this book a top mark. I will keep it and read it again, I am sure. What it did not have, and what I missed, is the captivating, all-consuming, breathless, stunning love, and spiritual bonding that you have with Edward and Bella. The love stories are there with Melanie and Jared and Wanderer, but it does not have the mind-blowing impact as you have in Twilight. And, let’s face it; supernatural vampires are just way cooler than passive aliens!