Book Review | The Host
Sometimes it takes a decent movie trailer to get me interested in reading the book it’s based off of. With seeing so many movies in a short amount of time, I got to watch the preview for The Host a couple of times. After reading the Twilight Saga, I didn’t have any fervent interest to read another Stephenie Meyer book…but the preview hooked me. And after the sobfest that was The House at Riverton, I was looking for a light, easy read that I didn’t have to convince myself to finish. With the bonus chapter included, The Host is an epic journey that defies everything we’ve ever been taught about science (not love), told in a mere 567 pages.
Melanie Stryder is not the sole inhabitant of her body anymore. After living on the run for years, she has finally been captured by an alien race that has taken over Earth. With a silvery spirit now latched to her spine and controlling her brain, Melanie does everything she can to not disappear. The alien that possesses her is legendary among vast universes and foreign planets; Wanderer is a soul that has lived as a Bat, a Flower, and a Bear, but never has she met resistance quite like Melanie’s. After a slow start and uncertain measures, Melanie begins to show Wanderer clips of her previous life…a life hidden from this new civilization, but still very special. A life with her younger brother Jamie, and her lover Jared.
Wanderer tries to find her place on Earth, getting used to human needs and Melanie’s presence. But she begins to feel the need to find Jamie and Jared for Melanie. This means leaving the souls that placed her there, her Healer (the one who inserted her into Melanie’s body), her Comforter (the one she has confided in), and her Seeker (the one she is terrified will learn Melanie’s secrets and use them against her). After uttering her very first lie, Wanderer uses Melanie’s string of clues that could lead her to Jamie and Jared, or lead them all to their demise.
As Wanderer and Melanie journey together, it becomes apparent that soul and body are not so easily divided. Wanderer feels herself longing for Jamie’s company and Jared’s love, even though she has only ever seen them through Melanie’s memories. She had never felt that she had belonged until she was in this body, but Melanie is not ready to give up her life. Sharing a body, their dynamic is unique and intriguing, especially as events unfold. Ultimately Wanderer must choose her bond with Melanie the human or her loyalty to the souls she belongs with.
I saw similar themes with this book as the Twilight Saga, but overall felt Melanie/Wanderer were easier to stomach than Bella Swan. There is much detail to take in, and vividly imaginative scenes to process, but that makes it refreshing from Meyer’s other works. I found myself turning off the TV and reaching for nook, and staying up later than Ethan so I could read. I find that is a nice quality for a book to possess. I am now even more interested in seeing the movie.
Overall, The Host is a science fiction love story: love between lovers, siblings, strangers, and souls. It gives a hopeful account of an alien invasion and questions what morality is on a universal (not global) scale. The adventure and action combined do not overshadow the importance of love, as love is the driving force behind most of Melanie and Wanderer’s decisions. And in the end, love really is the best part of this story.
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