by Stephenie Meyer
Summary: 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.
I was stunned, completely blown away, and amazed by how good The Host was. I checked it out at the library via Kindle out of mild curiosity after seeing trailers for the upcoming movie. Because I like to read books before seeing the movie, I decided I’d give this book a shot. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, though. I think it’s a shame that so many people won’t read this book because of the author. I think it would appeal to many who aren’t fans of The Twilight Saga. If the book had a completely different author name under the title, I think more people who would love this book would read it.
I was surprised that the narrator of the book wasn’t Melanie, despite it being in first person POV. The book was written from the point of view of the Wanderer, the alien parasite or “soul” as they refer to themselves while on Earth. Seeing things from her point of view was interesting, especially while Melanie was breaking through her own mind. The aliens have successfully used host bodies on various planets, but never such an emotional being like humans. The alien parasite can access memories from the human host, which in some cases, feel like their own and the parasite can begin to form attachments to things the human host loves. For example, two aliens who don’t know each other can be inserted into a human couple and end up staying together because of some lingering attachment and love each other. I thought the concept was intriguing. The horror I felt for Melanie as she was screaming in her own head, unable to control her body, was huge. And understanding the Wanderer, as she was telling the story from her point of view, gave me such conflicting emotions.
I hate to give any of the story away because I found it so interesting. The only things I knew about the story were from the synopsis and the movie previews, which don’t give a whole lot away. Even though the Wanderer, with Melanie, sets off on a search for Jared, the book is not fueled by romance. It becomes a story about humanity. While love plays a major role in the story, it’s not necessarily romantic love –it’s love of all kinds, as that is a major part of what being human is all about. Stolen and steamy moments and declarations of love are few and far between. I stress this because it can be a disappointment to people who are looking more for a book that resembles Meyer’s others and it can be encouragement for people who aren’t looking for that at all. The character development in this book was terrific and the band of human survivors that Wanderer comes across changes everything.
The Host is definitely a weird story and one that I find hard to categorize. It has terrifying and horrific moments, like any story about aliens. The logistics of the alien take over were interesting, weird, and logical. The remaining humans were a small band of rebels and to them, they were at war, so there was tons of rage and horror from that aspect, too, which appealed to my love of post apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. But perhaps the weirdest part about the story were the aspects of love, friendship, family, identity, and understanding on small and large scales.
Stephanie Meyer weaved an epic story with The Host that was incredibly well written. I don’t think I’ve highlighted so many lines and passages on my Kindle before. The story touched upon so many relevant things about life that I just couldn’t help myself.
Here are some quotes that stuck out and don’t really give too much away:
“The exception, I assure you, not the rule. Do not forget, the weapons that disgust you are turned on our kind wherever we Seekers have not been vigilant enough. The humans kill us happily whenever they have the ability to do so. Those whose lives have been touched by the hostility see us as heroes.” “You speak as if a war were raging.” “To the remains of the human race, one is.”
I was in a hurry now. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was in a hurry for, though. To be out of this, I supposed. Out of pain, out of sadness, out of aching for lost and hopeless loves. Did that mean out of this body?
He was supposed to be my enemy. He was probably insane. And he was my friend. Not that he wouldn’t kill me if things turned out that way, but he wouldn’t like doing it. With humans, what more could you ask of a friend?
Or was it simply better somehow? Because these humans could hate with so much fury, was the other end of the spectrum that they could love with more heart and zeal and fire?
My heart pumped hard and fast as I understood what the brothers were saying. Jared had won. I was not to be tortured. I was not to be killed—not immediately, anyway. Jared was keeping me prisoner. It seemed a beautiful word under the circumstances.
I could tell when he was deeply asleep because he started twitching the way Melanie remembered he occasionally did. He only slept so restlessly when he was upset. I watched his fingers clench and unclench, and I wondered if he was dreaming that they were wrapped around my neck.
I would recommend this book to others. I would stress the importance of not judging a book based on the author and not to expect anything remotely like Twilight, whether you hate or love it. Stephenie Meyer really surprised me with this book and I was unable to put it down. I think it appeals to people who love science fiction and also people who don’t. It’s a story that sort of rises above it all and brings so much together. All in all, it’s a story worth reading!