Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Review: The Host

The Host
Stephenie Meyer

***Contains Spoilers***

The Host is an interesting idea. It follows Earth as it has been invaded by parasitic aliens called "souls." These souls are implanted at the back of a human host's neck, where it then takes over the body and memories of the person. There have been plenty of alien invasion movies and novels with this premise, but this time around, it's from the point-of-view of one of the parasitic aliens called Wanderer, as she fights to gain control from a strong host whose consciousness won't go away, one of the last rebel humans Melanie. Wanderer is nervous that Melanie won't go away and talks to her, berating her constantly, the two of them wishing nothing more than for the other's disappearance. A "seeker," as the police of the parasitic aliens are called, wishes for Wanderer to delve into Melanie's memories and ferret out the location of the rest of the human rebel forces, something which Melanie has no intention of letting Wanderer do, instead forcing memories of her life with her love Jared and her younger brother Jamie upon her. As the memories continue, Wanderer finds herself falling for this human family and searches for them, suddenly on Melanie's side, trying to keep the humans' location from the seeker.

This book is amazing. I've read Stephenie Meyer's insanely popular teen vampire romances, Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse, and while they are entertaining, they don't hold a flame to Meyer's first foray into adult science fiction. Science fiction and romance are seamlessly blended in a suspenseful, thought-provoking novel. One of my favorite scenes is of Wanderer arguing with someone about the differences between herself and the body she wears:

Ian: "But, pretty as she is, she's a stranger to me. She's not the one about."

Wanderer: "Ian, you don't...Nobody here separates us the way they should. Not you, not Jamie, not Jeb. You couldn't care about me. If you could hold me in your hand, me, you would be disgusted. You would throw me to the ground and grind me under your foot."

Ian: "I...not if I knew it was you."

Wanderer: "How would you know? You couldn't tell us apart. It's just the body."

Ian: "That's not true at all. It's not the face, but the expressions on it. It's not the voice, but what you say. It's not how you look in that body, but the things you do with it. You are beautiful. I've never known anyone like you."

Wanderer: "Ian, what if I'd come here in Magnolia's body?"

Ian: "Okay. That's a good question. I don't know."

As Wanderer gains the trust of the human rebels, she notices the difference between the love her body feels for Melanie's love, Jared, and her own love for the human Ian. It's an interesting idea. There are plenty of those here. And it's wonderful to see the relationships grow organically as the novel moves along. I know it's a cliche to say this, but it was hard to put this book down. It's utterly compelling and I highly recommend it.

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