The future for earth looks grim. We have been invaded by “souls,” silvery parasites that attach themselves onto human bodies. These bodies live on, but over time the personalities of the human “hosts” fade away until the soul completely replaces them. Our planet has reached the point where humanity has been almost wiped out, and the few surviving humans have to live in remote, secret areas for fear of being taken in by the “seekers.” The soul Wanderer has lived on eight other planets and has lived for thousands of years, but she has never experienced anything like the complex emotions of being human. To complicate things, her host, Melanie, is strong and refuses to fade away as she should. She feeds Wanderer memories of her past, of a younger brother, and a boyfriend named Jared. Melanie feels deeply protective of these two individuals and is desperate to know if they are still alive. Over time, her concerns become Wanderer’s as well. The two women in one body set out on a journey through the desert. Neither of them can realize how what they discover will change everything.
Stephenie Meyer is best known for her young adult series, The Twilight Saga. In my opinion, the best thing about Twilight Saga is the fact that there’s something about them that just demands your attention. From their attractive cover art, to their high drama story lines and intense romance, the series grab you from the first page and pulls you along for quite a ride. Before you know it, you’ve gobbled up a sizable novel and want to read more. Is the series perfect? Of course not. Like many budding authors, Stephenie Meyer has plenty of room to grow as a writer. One thing that made me happy about The Host is the fact that it takes all of the positives from her young adult books, and improves on that reading experience by adding a dose of maturity to the writing, and characters. The Host is Stephenie Meyer’s best written book to date. Reading it makes me realize that she’s more than just a vampire romance writer, and makes me curious to see what kind of writer she will become in the future. (Side Note- it also makes me realize why Breaking Dawn was so heartbreakingly uneven. Seeing as this 600+ page book was released during the same year, I have to wonder if she spent so much time of The Host that Breaking Dawn suffered as a result).
Stephenie Meyer said in an interview that The Host is science fiction for people that don’t like science fiction, and that’s pretty well stated. There is no hard science here. Even the advanced medical technologies of the souls are simplified to easily digestible concepts. The Host is also less about an alien invasion than it is about what it’s like to be human. The souls in this story are not presented as violent and cruel, but as being pacifistic, kind, and ignorant. Wanderer begins the story fearing humans, which her kind views as violent and cruel, but as she learns more from Melanie and the humans around her, she begins to realize how much she and her kind have generalized their hosts.
One thing I found satisfying about this book is how it improved on what I felt was Breaking Dawn’s biggest weakness. Once Bella becomes a vampire, she enters a world where consequences do not exist. Here suffering is only temporary and everything ends up perfect for the characters in the end, even if plot and characterization have to be sacrificed for it. In The Host, we’re in the adult world. Here, there are consequences to the characters actions. Much like in Breaking Dawn, we get a happy ending, but unlike Breaking Dawn, which left me feeling conflicted, when I closed The Host, I felt fulfilled.
Rating: five out of five stars
Length: 619 pages
Source: Christmas Gift
Similar Books: If you’re looking for a sci-fi book that has an alien that ends up sharing a mental link with a human, try Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman (my review). For science fiction that’s more about humanity than technology, try The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger by Lois Lowry
Other Books I've read by this Author- Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn
Next up? I’m reading Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong.