Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Review of The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host: A Novel

I first started reading The Host some time ago.  It's Stephenie Meyer's first adult novel and it'd been a while since I'd read the Twilight series, so I wasn't sure how much I'd take to it.  Once I got over the initial uncertainty and understood what world they were living in,  I couldn't put the book down.

The blurb:
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact.  But Wanderer the invading "soul" who occupies Melanie's body, finds its former tenant refusing to reliquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who has avoided invasion and lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met.  Soon Wanderer and Melanie--reluctant allies--set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, The Host is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

In The Host,  an alien species has found a way to colonize humans.  Through an invasive process, aliens are inserted into live humans.  Wanderer is a special alien in that she has lived in more "host planets" than almost any other of her species.   Through Wanderer's eyes, we understand the rationale behind the colonization of Earth and the benefits that the aliens think that they're bringing to the planet.

The invading culture is generally peace-loving - they have eradicated everyday conflict, frustration, anger, rivalry, greed and self-interest.  But the alien's culture also stresses their version of "the common good" above everything else.

The story is told from the point of view of Wanderer, the alien implanted in Melanie's body. Somehow, Melanie doesn't fade away like most hosts.   As Wanderer is interrogated by Searchers -- standard procedure as they mine the host's bodies for information and other regular humans -- Melanie blocks information about her brother and her boyfriend.   Instead, she struggles against Wanderer and she shares some of her memories.  By the time Wanderer realizes what Melanie is doing, Wanderer starts to care about Melanie's family. 

Melanie/Wanderer risks her life to find Melanie's family unharmed, but her search results in Wanderer in danger as  the sole "alien" in the middle of hostile humans.  Wanderer empathizes with the humans and understands the reason for their anger and hostility.   She isn't willing to defend herself and it's  Wanderer's reaction and example that make The Host a fascinating story and memorable read.

ISBN-10: 0316068055 - Trade Paperback
Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (April 13, 2010), 646 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Stephenie Meyer is also the author of the bestselling Twilight series. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three sons.  The Host is her first novel for adults.

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