Aug 25, 2008

The Host

Stephenie Meyer's The Host is a fantastic science fiction novel for even those who do not read science fiction. While Meyer creates another world to immerse her characters in, the storyline is believable and captivating. Melanie Stryder, her brother Jamie, and Jared Howe along with all of humanity are thrust into a fight for their way of life and their humanity in Meyer's first attempt at an adult novel. I hope this too becomes a movie someday.

***Spoiler Alert***

Melanie Stryder is a tough go-getter who is caring for her brother while on the run from the Seekers. She meets up with Jared unexpectedly, and they both mistake one another for a soul--or a human possessed by an alien soul. Jared, Jamie, and Melanie end up on the run together, sort of like an instant family in these desperate times. She falls in love with Jared and vice versa. However, once they are separated when Melanie seeks out her cousin Sharon, all hell breaks loose. Melanie is captured and implanted with the Wanderer.

Wanderer struggles to gain full control over Mel, but it becomes a loosing battle for some time. When she finally gets into a routine at her Calling as a teacher at the San Diego university, Wanderer begins to grow uncomfortable with her host and her seeker. The seeker constantly follows her and harasses her about whether she has learned about any other humans that Mel may have been with or hiding. Wandered grows weary of these interrogations and makes an attempt to head east to Tuscon, Ariz., where she will see her Healer, who attached her to Melanie.

On her way through the desert, Wanderer decides its time to pull over, get something to eat, argue with Mel, and then decipher the lines on a map from Mel's memories to find a possible hiding spot for Jared and Jamie. Mel wants to be assured they are alive and to keep her promise to Jamie that she would return. Wanderer is not entirely comfortable with the plan, but succumbs to the urge because she has grown fond of Jared and Jamie through Mel's memories.

Once Wanderer and Melanie enter the cave dwelling of the rebels, they both face serious harm and torture. Jared is angry and frustrated and elated to see Melanie's body, but he is distraught that Wanderer is inside. Ian and Kyle, the brothers, are ready to kill Mel to prevent Wanderer from telling the Seekers where they are. The believe they are the last human rebels on the planet and they want to survive at all costs.

***End Spoiler Alert***

The interplay of the characters at the end of the book in the last 250 pages is infectious. You get caught up in the intrigue and the action. While the action is great, the evolution of the characters is fantastic in this novel. Wanderer remains true to herself and is altruistic to the end, and her anger toward Melanie softens and transforms. Melanie's anger toward her softens and transforms as well; there grows an understanding between the two who share one body. Their friendship grows as does their affection for one another, and this friendship helps turn around the reactions and actions of the other humans in the caves.

Many of the reviews I saw have talked about the love between Jared and Melanie and Wanda and Ian, but I think that this book is more about how many people judge books and people by their covers before they get to know and understand them.

Souls take over the planet because humans are too violent to truly enjoy their world, and by taking them over, the souls are doing humanity a favor. Humans view the takeover as an invasion as the souls take over bodies and push the personalities and human minds out of those bodies, essentially killing those humans. However, souls are not all bad and in many ways they do not realize the extent of the devastation they cause on Earth because previous hosts have been so different and less individualized--less human. Humans also are not all bad and prone to violence as Wanda learns with Ian and others in the book.

After reading Breaking Dawn, I sped through this book. I didn't find any ruts in the narrative and the action was well worth the ride. The one drawback for me was the intractable characters of Sharon and Maggie, who do not evolve at all. They maintain their hatred of the Wanderer regardless of her altruistic behavior and her hardcore work ethic.

If you have reviewed The Host, please send me your link and I will add it.

Also Reviewed By:
Suey at It's All About Books
Maw Books
Book Escape
Reading Adventures
J. Kaye's Book Blog
Booking Mama
Marta's Meanderings
Wrighty's Reads

6 comments:

Anna said...

I thought the beginning was a little slow, but once they made the trip to Arizona, the action picked up and I raced through to the end. I agree that the book was about more than just romantic relationships, and you bring up a lot of great points in your review.

I still don't get the whole "Team Jared" or "Team Ian" thing for this book. It's a totally different situation than the Edward/Bella/Jacob triangle in the Twilight saga.

--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

tracy said...

I skipped over your spoilers but am looking forward to reading this:) Great review

Serena said...

Thanks for stopping by. It was a great book. Come back and share your thoughts once you have read it.

Marg said...

I really, really enjoyed this book when I read it which surprised me as I am not a sci-fi reader at all!

My review is here

Trixie said...

Love your review -
In addition to your point about "people judge books and people by their covers before they get to know and understand them" I also think the book is about the triumph of love over all the other stuff life deals out to humans. And that sometimes love is found in unexpected places.

Serena said...

Trixie: I agree