Today I’m reviewing a novel from my bookshelf that I feel got overlooked by most people when it was initially published. It definitely deserves a second look. When Stephenie Meyer published the Twilight series, it generated such a tidal wave of fervor that The Host seemed to be eclipsed (pun intended) in the process. Now that we’ve got a bit of distance on the Twilight series, I really want you to know more about this novel!
The Host is a science fiction thriller instead of fantasy and was written for an adult audience, although the teens I know who’ve read it have really liked it. In fact, my 16 year old niece told me she thinks this novel is much better than the Twilight novels. I agree with her in many ways. Whether you like sci-fi or thrillers, I think you’ll like this one.
Earth is being invaded by small silvery centipede-like parasites who are inserted into human hosts. The human host’s mind is taken over but its body remains intact. As awful as that sounds, these philanthropic parasites have accomplished amazing things for Earth including curing cancer and eliminating war. In many ways they are turning the planet into a paradise-like place, but at what cost?
Melanie Stryder was born in Albuquerque and lived in Los Angeles. Melanie was one of the few remaining “wild” humans left, and was part of the human resistance movement. She had gone to Chicago to try to find her cousin, who she thought might have remained human, but while there she was captured by Seekers. After capture, she tried to commit suicide and, when the novel opens, she is being inserted with a Soul parasite by a Healer while a Seeker looks on. Melanie’s Soul is named Wanderer and this story is told from Wanderer’s point of view.
“My body knew the word, this title: Seeker. It sent a shudder of fear down my spine. A leftover reaction. Of course, I had no reason to fear Seekers…Still slowly surfacing, acclimating myself to this new world of senses, I understood only now that I was the subject of the conversation. I was the soul they spoke of. It was a nice connotation of the word, a word that had meant many other things to my host. On every planet we took a different name. Soul. I suppose it was an apt description. The unseen force that guides the body.”
This insertion is unusually traumatic for Wanderer because Melanie fights it. And Melanie continues to fight to retain herself within her body. Before coming to Earth, Wanderer had heard whispers of Hosts who fought their Souls and of Souls who had been forced to abandon their Hosts. She had also heard of Souls who became suppressed within their Hosts, taking on the personality of the Host, but she discounted such stories as nothing but rumors and madness. Unfortunately, when the Healer tells her about a prior Host rejection after an insertion similar to hers, she can no longer stay in denial about that possibility even for a seasoned planet hopper like herself.
“My name was now Wanderer, yet [Melanie’s]her memories fit it just as well as my own. Except my wandering was by choice. These flashes of [Melanie’s] memory were always tinged with the fear of the hunted. Not wandering, but running.”
She also soon realizes the only reason this Host was chosen is because the Seekers want the resistance information in Melanie’s mind. Wanderer does not approve of how aggressive the Seekers seem to have become on this planet. Although Wanderer initially wants to give the Seeker resistance information, she had not bargained for how determined Melanie would be to prevent that. Finally Wanderer is able to get a name, “Jared,” but that’s all.
When Wanderer leaves the medical facility and takes her place in the world as a history professor in San Diego, Melanie swamps Wanderer’s mind with dreams of her life with Jared, the man Melanie loves. Wanderer feels the same strong emotions Melanie has for Jared. She finally talks to a Comforter about the extent to which Melanie is present and discusses skipping to a new Host but is horrified to learn Melanie will be disposed of instead of being given a new Soul. Melanie doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment.
“If I could find a way, I would keep Melanie out of the Seeker’s hands. It would be very hard. No, it would be impossible…I would try…I promised her this, but she wasn’t listening. She was still dreaming. Giving up, I thought, now that it was too late for giving up to help.”
Wanderer is constantly shadowed by the rude Seeker from the medical facility, who informs her that she is the Seeker’s only job. Although Souls do not normally harbor suspicions, Wanderer realizes she has become increasingly suspicious of this Seeker’s uncharacteristic motivations and behavior since overhearing the Seeker’s conversation after her insertion. It doesn’t take long for Wanderer and Melanie to become united in the decision to find Jared in an attempt to warn and protect him from the Seeker. That quest, and the physical as well as mental/emotional rollercoaster it leads them on, is a thrilling and dangerous ride.
I purchased The Host because I really enjoyed the Twilight series and wanted to read more of Stephenie Meyers’ work. I loved it, even though it was radically different from the Twilight series, and literally couldn’t put it down. I read every night until I had double vision. My only regret was that I was lugging around a big, heavy book because that was in my pre-Kindle days. LOL
If you’ve read The Host, I’d love to get your comments on it. Feel free to comment about this review, Stephenie Meyer or anything else pertaining to this.
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