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