Book Review – The Host

Posted on September 26, 2008

Silver eyes look cool!Who else thinks silver eyes look cool? (from Wikipedia)

In the year since I’ve been out of school, I’ve had a lot more time (and money) to pursue one of my true passions – Books, books, and more books!

The Host is bestselling author Stephanie Meyer’s (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse) first foray into the world of adult fiction, and distictly different from her renowned Twilight series. This sci-fi flavored novel takes place in a not-too-distant future, where a species of parasitic aliens has seized control of almost every human body on earth, erasing their hosts’ memories in the process. Not surprisingly, a small contingent of humans resists this invasion, fights  back, and conceals their existence from this new order.

Interestingly, instead of these “rebel” humans, Meyer chooses to write from the viewpoint of “Wanderer”, one of the aliens (called “Souls”) who is implanted into the body of Melanie Stryder, a captured rebel. Her assignment is to probe Melanie’s memories for clues as to her friends’ whereabouts, but she soon learns that Melanie’s consciousness is still present, and her memories are far too strong for her to betray those whom her host body loved. Eventually, instead of hunting for them, she ends up joining them, and her search for acceptance among Melanie’s friends (as both a Soul and a human, sharing the same body) makes up the bulk of the novel.

There’s a reason I called this novel “sci-fi flavored”. Unlike many works of speculative fiction, Meyer chooses to focus on the emotional and psychological lives of her characters, as opposed to the futuristic setting and its backstory – just as she did in Twilight. If you were a fan of that book’s intense romantic elements, have no fear – there’s plenty of pining and yearning here too, though I think her depiction of love has become much more nuanced – I rarely found myself rolling my eyes this time around. Ultimately, though, this book is about what makes humanity beautiful, in spite of our flaws.

The main characters themselves are a bit on the simplistic side, but eminently likable. Most interesting are the thoughts of Wanderer herself, who, as an alien, views the human race with the eyes of an outsider, with alternating awe, sympathy, and disgust, even as she begins to develop a love all her own for her new “family”. Perhaps the book’s biggest problem is its length – more than 624 pages, some of which I felt were little else but filler to make the story feel more “epic”.  Still, Meyer knows how to punctuate her tale with genuine suspense in the right spots, and the delightfully ambiguous ending leaves room for a sequel, which I think I would very much enjoy.

In short, The Host is a nice change of pace in Science Fiction that made for some entertaining subway reading.

» Filed Under Books, Everything and Nothing, Writing

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