Friday, 29 March 2013

Review: The Host

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.

Title: The Host
Author: Stephenie Meyer | Goodreads | Website
Publication Date: January 01 2009
Publisher: Back Bay Books
ISBN: 0316128651
Length: 567 Pages
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Buy ItAmazon US / Amazon UK

Source: Purchased (Kindle Edition)
Cover Love: Interesting, but I think I like the movie tie-in cover a little better.
Point of View: 1st person, following Wanderer (Wanda) and Melanie

My Rating: 5 Stars

I would like to start off with with the obvious.  Yes this book was written by Stephanie Meyer, yes she is the author of the Twilight series... just a few little books about a human and a vampire that you may have heard of before.  Yes I loved the Twilight books when I read them.  Yes I have read much better books since Twilight but that doesn't take away from the fact that Stephanie Meyer, when all is said and done, can write very compelling characters.  It seems that every single review for The Host mentions Twilight and I can't see why.  People either loved them or hated them but I want to make sure before I start my review that you put aside your feelings for Twilight and your feelings for Meyer as an author.  Don't pre-judge this novel based on the feelings you have for her other work, either good or bad.

“You never know how much time you'll have.”

Because honestly, The Host deserves better than the preconceived notions that some people have about it.  A see so many reviewers who say they won't read it and it makes me sad.  This was an amazingly good story with some of the most loveable and real characters.  A few of my friends had previously read it and I was just holding out until closer to the adapted film's release for me to start it.  My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner.  It really is something special.

“And he was my friend. Not that he wouldn't kill me if things turned out that way, but he wouldn't like doing it. With humans, what more could you ask for a friend?”

The uniqueness behind the plot is what I immediately became fascinated with.  The idea that these aliens, or rather Souls, are implanted into human bodies... they then control the body as their own however they retain the memories of the Host.  When Wanderer was implanted into Melanie it was because she was deemed to be strong enough to handle the memories and resistance that they believed would be forced upon the new Soul.  They, the Seekers, wanted answers.  Their job is to track down the pockets of humans who are still out there, refusing to give themselves over.  And so, we meet our characters....

“You are the noblest, purest creature I've ever met. The universe will be a darker place without you," he whispered.”

Wanderer is the Soul, later in the story she is called Wanda.  You go in with the mindset that you will dislike Wanderer, I mean she is after all a part of the alien race that has all but wiped out humanity on earth.  But you quickly learn that these Souls are gentle and kind.  They have been to many planets before and I am sure they will continue to visit/take over many planets in the future.  But they are not hostile.  They saw what humans were doing to Earth, the wasting of resources, letting their people die in the street when there was so much that could be done to stop it and so much violence.  They never stop to think about the mind they are removing from the body, just that they know they can make it a better place.

“I'd never lived on a planet where such atrocities could happen, even before the souls came. This place was truly the highest and the lowest of all worlds- the most beautiful senses, the most exquisite emotions...the most malevolent desires, the darkest deeds. Perhaps it was meant to be so. Perhaps without the lows, the highs could not be reached.”

Wanderer is implanted into Melanie but she is a fighter.  She refuses to drift off into nothingness like so many other minds.  She starts giving Wanderer her memories, of her brother Jamie and her boyfriend, Jared.  She slowly lets the walls down and when she knows Wanderer is feeling the same emotions toward the people that Melanie loves she talks Wanderer into going to where she believes them to be.  She sets off in search of Jamie and Jared.

“Uncle Jeb," we croaked in surprise. "You found us."

"Well, now," he said, and his gruff voice brought back a hundred memories. "Well, now, here's a pickle.”

Obviously the reunion is not a tender one.  Melanie's eyes are now reflective in light, the sure sign that the body has been invaded by a new Soul.  The Seekers have previously in the past tried to lead a newly inhabited Host back to their group in order to give away their location.  There are not many people who approve of Melanie's Uncle Jeb allowing her to stay in their new home in the caves.

However, slowly people start to realize that Melanie is still there, deep inside Wanda's thoughts.  I know it sounds a lot to wrap your head around but really I was never confused with the dialogue back and forth.  It is very clear when it is Mel speaking or when it is Wanda speaking.  You also never really think of them as one person.  Even though they share the one body there is no doubt ever that there are two separate beings.

“If I was given the choice between having the world back and having you, I wouldn't be able to give you up. Not to save five billion lives.”

The most unique part of this entire story, as if it wasn't unique enough, is the love square.  Yes, you read that correctly... a love square.  Melanie of course loves Jared, and even when Jared finally comes around and believes that Melanie is still alive inside Wanda's head, every time he touches her Wanda feels the heat of it because of the emotions she carries from Melanie.  But Melanie feels jealously toward the act because she thinks Jared should not be touching Wanda like that.  As much as Melanie yearns for Jared, Wanda starts to get close to someone else...

“You don't really feel that way about me you know. It's this body... she's pretty isn't she?”

“She is. Melanie is a very pretty girl. Even beautiful. But pretty as she is, she is a stranger to me. She's not the one I... care about.”

“It's this body.”

“That's not true at all. It's not the face, but the expressions on it. It's not the voice, but what you say. It's not how you look in that body, but the things you do with it. You are beautiful.”

And that would be Ian.  *sigh*  I love Ian.  I love Jared also, don't get me wrong, but Ian was so sweet and gentle with Wanda.  Ian loves Wanda.  Not Melanie.  But nothing of course can come of this because each time they get closer her body reacts so negativity because of Melanie.  So as you can see, a love square. 

The emotions between the characters is amazing and honestly there isn't a single person you don't love.  Even the ones you believe to be villains will have you turned around by the end of the book.  Uncle Jeb is hilarious and Melanie's little brother Jamie... he broke me.  I love him so much and I shed quite a few tears where Jamie was involved.  Love him.

“This place was truly the highest and the lowest of all worlds - the most beautiful senses, the most exquisite emotions.. the most malevolent desires, the darkest deeds. Perhaps it was meant to be so. Perhaps without the lows, the highs could not be reached.”

And even though I don't like spoilers I will just add that you know me and happily ever afters... I crave them!  I was so scared all throughout the book because I didn't see how this would have a happy ending.  But I am glad to report that it does in fact end perfectly.

There is however so much more that Meyer could do with this series.  It has always been rumored that this would be turned into a trilogy but there was never any confirmation... that was until very recently.  I am very happy that Meyer has finally admitted that she is in the process of writing a sequel, The Seeker.  There is no release date as of yet but the fact it is being written is enough for me.  Loved this book and the world it created and I will be very excited to continue in it.

“Happy and sad, elated and miserable, secure and afraid, loved and denied, patient and angry, peaceful and wild, complete and empty...all of it. I would feel everything. It would all be mine.”

1 comment:

  1. I ADORE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I'm seeing the movie in 3 days and I cannot wait, plus the sequel is enough to put me in overdrive. I loved your review too, it gave it justice whilst acknowledging that not everyone will be unbiased...


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