Sunday, May 5, 2013

Know Thyself: The Host

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown, 2008

Plenty of people have plenty of thoughts on Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and the saga that followed, and while that story wasn't for me, I'm so happy to say that I gave this author another chance and found out The Host, Meyer's first venture outside of her vampire universe, was.

In a science fiction novel aimed for adults (more like New Adult if that genre buzzword had been around when this was published), readers learn the tale of Wanderer, an alien Soul who has lived many lives in many planets in host bodies. Her latest life has brought her to earth, and nearly the entire human population has been occupied. Trouble soon becomes evident when the consciousness of Melanie, the woman whose body Wanderer now inhabits, refuses to fade away. As these two beings share one body, Wanderer sees Melanie's memories, forms her own feelings for the people in Melanie's life such as her boyfriend Jared and her brother Jamie, all the while being pursued by a Seeker who wants to use Melanie's mind to find other remaining 'wild' humans left. Suddenly rather than helping her own race take over, Wanderer forms bonds with humans and fights to keep them free.

I'm absolutely shocked at how much I liked this book. I will admit I set the bar low as I was not a Twilight fan, but Meyer is completely inventive in this different kind of body-snatcher story. I loved how she told this story not from the human's perspective, but from the alien's - it was so interesting to examine human nature from this outsider point of view. I also loved the societal rules of the Souls and how thoroughly Meyer clearly thought about how they functioned. Wanderer, or as she comes to be called, Wanda displays an incredible amount of care and actually shows the best of humanity.

Secondary characters also grabbed me. Jamie as well as Mel's Uncle Jeb were so introspective and always displayed an understanding of the fact that Mel and Wanda were not the same. Ian, a human Wanda develops feelings for, had a fantastic arc and showed growth that I loved. But not everyone likes Wanda, which I felt was very realistic.

The Host is currently a book that stands on its own, and while there are rumors of possibly two sequels, I hope that doesn't happen. I liked this story just the way it was, ending with imperfections that were still complicated, but I also found hopeful. So if you like science fiction or are looking to give it a try, pick up The Host and don't let any prejudices against Stephenie Meyer stop you. I was pleasantly surprised and think I may actually purchase a copy of this book to enjoy for rereads in the years to come.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Stephenie Meyer's Website


  1. "it was so interesting to examine human nature from this outsider point of view" - this is my fave thing to encounter in a book. That's why I love books that have magical settings or another type of world living with the human one. I like the observations on human nature.

    I'm really glad you liked this. I bought this book when I came out and still have not read it. I just bought it on a whim and was really unsure about it. I might pick it up now. Great review.

    1. I completely agree! I also think that the evolution of science fiction has been more interesting to me in recent years because it's not all space ships and long unpronounceable names - books like this and like Kasie West's Pivot Point are built on one twist to humanity and build realistically from there. I hope you like this when you get around to it and thanks for reading and commenting! =)

  2. I completely agree. This book just needs to stand on its own. No sequels, prequels required. Great review.

    1. If there do end up being sequels, I might just pretend they don't exist and not read them so I can hang on to this ending in my head. Though prequel in terms of seeing Wanderer's lives on other planets might be cool, but absolutely not necessary. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Great review!!! I actually really want to re-read this since I read it when it first came out. Aliens are actually a HUGE turn off for me so the fact that I still kind of liked it when I first read it is a plus, actually. Realistically, I won't really have time for a re-read as much as I would like to but I'm really glad the movie came out so I can read other people's reviews.
    I really did feel a fair amount of emotion in this book, but again.... I think it was the whole alien deal that threw me off.
    It's totally new adult, isn't it!? It just wasn't a term that was around when the book came out and I really addressed this as adult for a long time.
    I actually hope there isn't a sequel either. I think this book did well on its own and to add a sequel would kind of ruin it.

    Really loved hearing your thoughts on this one! :)

    1. Thanks so much for your comments! I've honestly had this review written for a while and just forgot to post it - I'm so surprised by these responses! I hear you about the trepidation when it comes to sci-fi and aliens though - it's usually not my style AT ALL either - but I love it when a book can surprise me. And it feels weird to say I don't want a sequel when I liked it, but you put it perfectly in that a sequel would ruin it.

      Thanks again!