Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Host

The Host
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown and Company, 2008
619 pages

Despite the fact that I'm a big fan of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, I was really skeptical about The Host. Why? First, because it was billed as Meyer's first book for "adults." (It reminded me of when famous children's writer Judy Blume published her first book for adults -- disaster.) But also because of the subject matter: The Host is about a sort of parasitic alien species who invades Earth and forcibly takes over the minds and bodies of humans. Does that sound interesting to you? It didn't to me.

But Stephenie hasn't failed me yet, and once I got past the first couple of chapters and realized what was going on, I got totally into the story.

Melanie is the host - the young human who gets "implanted" with Wanderer, the alien so named because she has lived with other hosts on several other different planets. Usually when the alien enters the host, only the body of the host remains. But Melanie won't go away. She gets into Wanderer's head. Wanderer finds herself unable to resist Melanie's memories, and she is compelled to go off in search of the still-human Jared and Jamie, two of Melanie's loved ones. 

Off they go into the desert. Behind them is a Seeker (the aliens are all known by their professions, and Seekers are kind of like police who look for the remaining humans). This Seeker is really mean, which is unusual because as we are to learn, the aliens are a peace-loving, conflict-avoiding species. Melanie/Wanderer eventually find Jared and Jamie living in a cave system in the middle of nowhere with some thirty other humans. At first, the humans are not happy to see Melanie/Wanderer, and she is imprisoned. Eventually, she will prove herself not harmful. As her relationships improve with the humans, they also improve with Melanie and the two become very close. But will the Seeker find them, and if so, what will happen to them all?

This is a story of the conqueror and the conquered, of survival and human emotions, and of forgiveness and redemption. It's a love story, and a story about love. It's hard to know how else to describe it. Often as I was reading it, I had to put the book aside and just think for a while. There's a lot of philosophy in this book. 

So as weird as the plot may sound, I have to highly recommend this book. Put it on your list.

Rating: 4.5 stars. 

By the way, I bought the paperback version of The Host in Seoul. I also saw the paperback version in Vienna and Sydney. Why does the rest of the world get paperbacks before we do in the USA? Personally I prefer them over hardbacks, and not just for the price.