title: The Host
author: Stephenie Meyer
how I read it: once from the school library, once before I gave it to my Dad for Christmas, once as an audiobook
Melanie Stryder has done the unthinkable: she has stayed present and conscious in her own body, despite the Soul who controls it. The Host tells a classic “tale of the bodysnatchers” story, with a twist; this time, the story is told through the eyes of Wanderer, the parasitic alien creature who’s doing the snatching. Melanie floods Wanderer with memories of Jared until he is all that either of them can think about. Soul and Host become reluctant allies in their goal to save the man that they both love.
The first few pages of The Host are slow and a bit difficult to understand. I had to push my way through the first chapter in particular and I nearly put the book down. I'm glad that I persevered, because once this book takes off, it's impossible to put down. The story is well-paced and suspenseful. I found myself rereading exciting passages multiple times because I loved the fact that Meyer managed to surprise me.
The love triangle - three people in two bodies - was interesting and fun. While this idea has been explored before (that two-timing Rio in love with both Jem and Jerica, anyone?), Meyer made it seem like a fresh and completely original idea.
This book has some flaws. There are very few shades of gray in the characters. For the most part, they are either "good" or "bad". While a few of the characters do change and grow, they tend to do it in a very sudden and jerky fashion. They flip from "good" to "bad", or from "bad" to "good" quickly and without much personal anguish. Wanderer (renamed Wanda by the humans) was particularly cloying at times. While I really did like her, her goodness bordered on boring. She also never seemed to grapple with the moral issues of being a parasite, despite coming to love the humans.
With Stephenie Meyer's meteoric rise to fame, it's hard not to compare The Host to the Twilight series. In my opinion, The Host is a far more interesting and original book. I know that this is probably going to shock (and possibly annoy) a lot of people, but I didn't really like Twilight. I found the female lead one-dimensional, weak, needy and almost kittenish. Wanda suffers the same fate in many ways; she is submissive and almost too "good". But because of the way that Souls are portrayed - as gentle and nonviolent by nature - it was much more acceptable to me to have a weak female lead. Still, I hope that if Meyers writes any more books, she'll drop the whole "damsel in distress" plot and write a stronger, more independent female character.
This book made me want to: build a bunker and stock it with supplies. Oh, who am I kidding. I've wanted to do that for years.
Verdict: Despite its flaws, this was a good story with strong pacing and likeable characters - well worth reading!
Sequels: none as of yet.