Monday, June 10, 2013

The Host

Book: The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Description: Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human. (from
My Thoughts: I know, I know... Stephanie Meyer? I'm not a huge fan, but the premise of The Host is intriguing, and I wanted a mindless book to read after finishing up with school.

Perhaps because I approached the novel with such low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the characters were interesting, and the world Meyer created was fascinating. Wanderer knows a great deal about other alien species and the habits of her own species, and her descriptions of them were  very interesting and unique. Although Meyer did make many of the aliens a bit too earth-like for my tastes (but then, almost everyone does), they were also not at all human. Each species had a very different way of seeing and interacting with the world around them, and I enjoyed these descriptions.

I didn't know what to think of the invading alien species, the 'souls'. They were perfect in almost any way--they abhor violence, hunger, environmental degradation, lies, and so on. They have a society where no one goes hungry because everything is made available to anyone who wants it, and everyone cares enough to take up useful work. At the same time, however, this is a species that exists by stealing the bodies of others and destroying the true soul inside it, something they do simply for the experiences of the host. Every society has its problems and sins, even if no one at the time sees them as such. I was glad Meyer dealt with the paradox.

Wanderer was a really great character to read about. She was hard to care about at first, what with the fact that she's a body-stealing alien and the fact that she just really comes across as a wimp at the beginning due to her ridiculous fear of even the slightest hint of violence; however, both of these aspects of her were dealt with well, and in a way that makes her much more interesting and understandable. She was also highly principled, and truly lived by those principles. Perhaps my greatest disappointment with The Host was that she was *spoiler alert* cheated out of dying for her principles. Wanderer wanted to die rather than continue to live by stealing the body of a sentient being, but others kept her alive against her will. And then, completely out of character, she decided she was all right with that because at least she could be with her boy. Point: Perhaps this book would have been better if I'd skipped the last twenty or thirty pages. *end spoilers* Uncle Jeb and Ian are both awesome as well.

I will admit, the writing in The Host wasn't great. It got in the way of the story for a bit, but after a few hundred pages I was so absorbed by the story that I stopped noticing it.

I'm glad to be able to report that the words "love triangle" should never actually be applied to this book. There are actually four persons/entities involved, and there was really no doubt, ever, as to who would end up with whom. There was the slightest possibility of a love triangle developing for perhaps three pages; thankfully, it didn't.

I was actually pretty impressed with the relationships in The Host. The love of family and friends was portrayed as just as important, and just as strong, as the love in a romantic relationship. All the relationships developed in a reasonable manner, rather than just magically springing into being, fully formed, because the plot required it.

Overall surprisingly good, although not great. A good read for those times when you don't want to think too much, although with some problems, so proceed carefully.

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