- Title: The Host
- Author: Stephenie Meyer
- Series: TBD
- Genre: Adult, Scifi
- Category: Alien, Futuristic
- Length: 619 Pages
- Website: www.stepheniemeyer.com
Note: I used to stop by Stephenie Meyer’s website about once a month for announcements about her next writing project. But then months and years went by without any news, so I stopped visiting. Someone told me over the weekend that she was officially turning The Host into a trilogy, so that is what prompted me to visit her website again. No official news, and no mention of writing projects at all that I could find, which is a huge disappointment to me. Her last full length novel was published in August of 2008. But after a full year with no updates on her website at all, she did finally start putting up new posts in February this year. She talks mostly about the movie version of The Host which will be released March 29, 2013 (click link for official teaser trailer), but also shares some info about the newest projects of her production company, FickleFish. I don’t really know what to make of her writing career at the moment – she seems more focused on movies than books. I keep hoping that she is just being secretive about her future books because of her experience with the Midnight Sun internet leak back in 2008. But who knows? I certainly hope she has another best-selling book series left in her.
As long as I was in the Meyer mindset already, I thought it would be a good time to review her one lonely adult novel.
Summary: This is the story of Wanderer (aka Wanda) who is a parasitic alien soul who has been implanted into a human being during an alien invasion of Earth. After a soul is implanted, the human being is supposed to cease to exist. Unfortunately for her, Wanda’s host is mentally strong and determined to stick around, leaving two beings living in one body.
Through visions and powerful emotions, Wanda’s host (Melanie Stryder) leads her to the two people she loves most in the world who are hiding in a secret mountain community in the desert. Her brother Jamie is in residence along with her boyfriend Jared. She is immediately identified as an infected person by the reflective silver ring around her pupils, which is how the humans separate friend from foe.
When Wanda tries to explain that Melanie is still alive within her, nobody wants to believe her. She is eventually able to convince a few people of the truth – most importantly, her younger brother. But this doesn’t mean that anyone is going to trust her not to reveal their hiding place. Heated debates ensue to determine if she should live or die. Eventually, she is allowed to live because she shows no signs of violence or deception and she may prove useful. Determined to make a contribution, she works hard and helps where she is needed. But what these survivors really need from her is knowledge about her species. They are desperate to know how to remove the aliens without killing the human hosts.
When Wanda first arrives at the compound, Mel’s deep love for Jared is consuming her. She knows that this love doesn’t belong to her, but experiencing this emotion makes her crave it for herself. Jared wants nothing to do with her because she is not the Mel he knows and loves. But when Wanda’s goodness becomes evident, he can no longer hate her. Still – seeing Mel’s body every day stirs a confusing mix of sorrow and hope within hin.
Eventually, Wanda grows to love these people as family and proves herself as a member of the community. She even falls in love with one of the men – and this time, it is her own love she is experiencing, not Mel’s emotion. But the more she loves and admires the people around her, the more she is forced to face the fact that this planet should never have been invaded in the first place. She doesn’t want to be a parasite anymore, and she knows that she needs to give this body back to Melanie. Can she make the ultimate sacrifice?
Review: This is my favorite of Stephenie Meyer’s books. I loved the Twilight series as well, so don’t think this is a knock against that mega-hit. But The Host was written after Meyer had more writing experience, and in my opinion, her growth as a writer was evident in this book. Besides that, I also preferred that this was an adult novel. I was well past high school when Twilight was first released, so first loves and homework were distant memories for me. The Host featured adult situations, challenges and responsibilities. I really enjoyed seeing Meyer’s growth showcased in this platform.
I’ll admit, I cried during several parts of this book. I was almost sobbing when Wanda finally faces what it will mean for her if she leaves Mel’s body. By that point, it didn’t matter to me anymore that she was an alien. Like the rest of the characters, I “knew” Wanda more than I knew Mel. As a reader, it makes you think about what you would do if you had to choose between two friends – life for one and death for the other. And what if one of them volunteers for death? Could you stand back and watch her die? Would you look for a way to keep them both alive, even if they could never be separated?
I believe that Meyer’s biggest strength as a writer is the raw emotion she is able to put into words for her readers. Meyer is able to capture emotion in a way that makes her readers feel what the characters are feeling – side by side with them, not as an outsider looking in. Very few authors are able to accomplish this level of emotional connection between fictional characters and an audience. Personally, I think this is why she was such an instant success. I don’t care what critics say about the technical part of her writing. I’ll read anything she writes just for the experience of it. This is why I’m giving the book such a high rating.
I recommend this book to fans of Paranormal/fantasy romance in addition to SciFi romance. Stephenie has described this book as SciFi for people who don’t like SciFi and I think that is an accurate description. I got so caught up in the intensity of the relationships that I often forgot that I was reading about aliens. After a while, it didn’t even feel odd to me that there were two people in one body.
If you have kids who want to read this book because they are fans of the Twilight books, keep in mind that this is not a YA novel. There are sexual relationships (referred to but not written graphically) and there is more violence and adult content in general. I’d probably rate it PG-13.