Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, 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.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts 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 yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring what may be the first love triangle involving only two bodies, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel that will bring a vast new readership to one of the most compelling writers of our time.

Late last year when I was reading the Twilight saga, I noticed that Stephenie Meyer had added a new book to her website which she was saying was Sci Fi for those people who don't read Sci Fi. I must confess to being very intrigued by the cover, but more than a little sceptical because I am one of those people who doesn't really read much science fiction, although I did read another book in this genre earlier this year when I participated in the Sci-Fi Experience that Carl hosted.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book really was excellent. Not that I didn't already know that Stephenie Meyer knows how to write a story, but simply because normally the whole alien body snatcher aspects really wouldn't do very much for me.

Our story opens when our alien (soul), who is known as Wanderer, is being transplanted in Melanie Stryder, her new host. Her species are almost symbiotic in that they come to a new planet and then slowly take over by being transplanted into the home species and then improve life. For Earth those improvements have meant the end of wars, to illness, to violence. Not all their changes have been improvements. For example, because the aliens don't appreciate or even understand competitiveness in sport due to their passive nature, a game of basketball has become a game of apologies and of the opposing team trying to politely give the other team the ball when it goes out of court.

Wanderer is somewhat unusual amongst her race, because she has lived on many different planets. Where most of the souls find a home for themselves within one or two planets, Wanderer has lived on 8 planets, and in as many different body types but is yet to find the world where she truly feels at home.

What should happen when a soul is implanted in a new host, is that the host's personality disappears and the soul takes over every aspect of their life including their memories. When Wanderer is implanted within Melanie things don't quite go to plan because Melanie just won't go away. Part of the reason why Wanderer was chosen to host Melanie was that the Seekers wanted to use Melanie's memories to track down a group of human rebels but Melanie is strong enough to block her memories thus protecting her younger brother, her lover Jared, and the other humans who are hiding out in the desert.

Slowly but surely, Wanderer and Melanie get to know each other, and begin to like each other, enough for Wanderer to begin to give some thought as to what it must be like for Mel. Eventually she agrees to help Mel try to find out what happened to her loved ones, leading Wanderer away from everything that she knows, and into a strange and hostile environment.

For me, the real strength of this novel is in the relationships, and the fact that Meyer successfully manages to negotiate what could have been very difficult is testament to her skill. Not only is there the relationship between Mel and Wanderer, but also Mel's individual relationships with Jamie and Jared (her brother and lover), and Wanderer's relationship with them, and her growing friendship with Ian (my favourite I think!), who is one of the other human rebels. There is also interesting dissection of the nature of acceptance when Wanderer does meet up with the rebels. In the beginning the reception is very hostile and threatening, but gradually the barriers begin to break down as Wanderer (who becomes known as Wanda) interacts with the people within the compound, and gradually strives to become an integral part of the group, but not without plenty of opposition.

Another strength of this book is the world building. Whilst the novel's setting is Earth, and as such doesn't require a lot of world building, Meyer hasn't taken the easy way out and left it at that. The rules of the soul's society are complex, and she allows us to see glimpses of the other very strange and different worlds that the souls have taken over both in her thoughts, and through the talks that Wanda shares with the group.

As I was getting closer to the end of the book, I admit that I was a bit concerned about how the author was going to manage to bring all the loose ends together in a satisfactory way, but she completed managed to do so.

Whilst I knew I would like this book, I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I graded it 4.75/5, but given that I don't do the quarter grades, I rounded it up to 5 out of 5 - my first for the year (but not my last!)

Other Blogger's Thoughts

Book Binge
Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Kailana's Written World
The Bluestocking Society
Rachel Reads
Maw Books
So Many Books, So Little Time
Savvy Verse and Wit
Books and Musings from Downunder
Katrina Reads
Melissa's Bookshelf
Hey Lady! Watcha Readin'?

If you have reviewed this book, leave a comment and I will link to your review.


  1. I loved this book, too. I enjoyed the Twilight books - and am eagerly looking forward to Breaking Dawn - but I appreciated the adult depth of emotions she portrayed in The Host. I recently read in Entertainment Weekly that she is planning to sequels to The Host.

  2. Crap. I keep seeing rave reviews for this book, even though I didn't think it sounded that interesting.

    Ok, ok, I'll bump it up on the list. *sigh*

  3. Well...you KNOW how much I loved this book!! Your review is spot on!! And Ian was truly my favorite in the book. Along with Jeb.

    Man...this was such a good book! I actually may have to go out and buy it!

  4. Carrie, I didn't know she was planning a sequel. I was wondering what she would do next after Breaking Dawn.

    Holly, it's definitely worth giving a go!

    Stephanie, I borrowed this from the library as well, and I was also thinking that I may have to buy it.

    Zeek, I think you'd like it!

  5. I reviewed this book here: http://thebluestockings.com/2008/05/the-host/. I was definitely enthralled, but I thought it could have been a little tighter.

    As for the sequels, Stephenie said she has already written the first chapter of the second book and the epilogue of the third book. I wonder when she'll have time to write them?

  6. I was surprised by how much I liked this book, too, even though I loved the Twilight series. I really like Meyer's writing style--even when it's about a subject I don't think I'd like (aliens, vampires).

    I reviewed her work here: http://rachelreads.blogspot.com/2008/05/days-later.html

  7. I thought the story was great but that Stephenie could refine her writing skills a bit. I say that only because I thought it was too wordy and too long. On the whole though, I enjoyed it!

    I reviewed it here:

  8. Thanks for the links Jessica, Rachel and Natasha!

  9. The reviews have been a bit mixed and I am glad you loved it so much. I can't wait to get hold of a copy and see what I think.

  10. I haven't really wanted to read this book, but then, I didn't want to read the Twilight series either. Then I fell in love with Edward. Maybe I just don't want to get hooked on another series. But I probably will.

  11. great review, marg! like you, i just couldn't see a happy ending, but i agreed that meyer managed to pull it off.

    i'll put a link to you on my review.

  12. Thanks for adding my review. I will have yours up this morning.

  13. Thanks for adding the link to my review and for leaving me the link to yours. I've posted it in my review.

    Great review, btw! Glad you enjoyed it :-)