Monday, 31 May 2010

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

GENRE: science fiction/romance

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed. When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves—Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.

I can’t believe this is a book written by the same author who wrote the Twilight saga. In my opinion, The Host surpasses the Twilight saga in many ways. I totally loved The Host, and I am actually really hoping for a sequel.

It has been said that The Host is a science fiction novel for people who don’t like science fiction, or fantasy, for that matter. This novel is able to equally please both sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts as well as those who never or rarely read fiction belonging to this genre.

I totally love the concept of this novel. The world is invaded by a foreign population from outer space called souls. Souls are creatures that are silvery and very small, like a ribbon. They need to live inside a host that can be an animal, plant, human being or any other creature that exists in space. So, they either live inside a host or are in hibernation in special tanks made for that. Outside a host or a tank, they die. What is most important is that souls are extremely benevolent and peaceful, and they invade other worlds to eradicate violence and evil from them and create peace and love throughout a world. That’s what they invaded Earth, too. However, there are still “wild” humans out there who do not have a host yet , consequently, whose minds have not been erased yet by souls. These humans are in hiding.

Wanda, a soul, and Melanie, Wanda’s human host, are the protagonist, but more so Wanda, as she has Mel’s body in her possession and does everything. Wanderer, or Wanda, is a special soul. Eventually, every soul chooses its permanent place of residence (a planet) and a permanent type of host after two or three replacements. Wanda, however, is an icon amongst souls, as Mel’s body is her ninth host, and Earth is her ninth planet. She can’t settle down, so she is called Wanderer (later Wanda, as she is called by humans). The problem is that Mel is such a strong person that Wanda cannot shut her out of the body permanently, so they both live in Mel’s body, although Wanda has the upper hand. Eventually, they begin to understand each other, and hatred turns into friendship. They have a common goal and that is to find Jared, the man they both love and who is in hiding. Namely, Wanda loves Jared too because she has Mel’s memories and she feels what Mel feels.

The story unfolds slowly, but that wasn’t a problem for me. I really enjoyed savouring Wanda’s first human experiences, how she learned and struggled, how she founds friends as well as enemies, and how she coped with that. She is such a benevolent soul who really abhors violence, and that is how she makes friends with a few humans from the group in hiding where she goes with Mel. The bonding and the struggles are very interesting to observe. Problems are always there, but a new one arises when Wanda starts to feel separately from Mel and she finds love in another human. Mel’s not pleased with that.

The novel features many interesting and really loveable characters. Wanda, of course, is really special. I, myself, never encountered such a character before and she is really great to read about. I really like Wanda. Mel is more of a tough girl, but she is also emotional, and she and Mel struggle with each other at first, because of the situation and because they’re so different, but essentially, there are similarities between them and they become good friends. Jared Howe is Mel’s sweetheart, and he is a man of action. He really hates Wanda at first, but wants Mel, too, so that’s an interesting predicament as well. Ian O’Shea is my favourite character in the novel. It seems everyone loves Jared and they think he’s the perfect guy, but for me, that’s Ian. He is a man of principles and really hates Wanda at first, too, and he almost strangles her in the beginning, but eventually, he is one of her closest friends and is really devoted to her. He is really loyal. Kyle, his stubborn brother, is something else and at one point, he really puts Wanda in big danger. He only relents when Wanda does something significant for him. Jamie is Mel’s brother and the kid is really cool. He sticks by Wanda from the start because his sister is inside her, and he also sees that Wanda is not the bad guy (or rather, girl) at all. Uncle Jeb is a really cool old man, the leader of the group of humans and a just man of reason. There’s also Doc, who is a good man, a doctor, but who at one point puts Wanda into a state of complete despair and at that point, she actually feels hatred for the first time. The Seeker is sort of the antagonist. Seekers are souls who hunt down wild humans and this Seeker is after Wanda, actually. Really, a bunch of interesting and colourful characters.

I really loved the ending, too. First of all, it promises a sequel. Second of all, I really had the feeling that the ending was perfect; it’s how it should be. It’s a beautiful ending. The novel has excitement, romance, sci-fi/fantasy elements, and is a good read for everyone, no matter your genre preference. Perhaps the topic of creatures that invade human bodies isn’t exactly original, but the take on this subject is definitely fresh and original. I mean, really, this is a great book. Although I said much in my review, I was actually pretty vague, and if you want to know the whole story, the plot twists and the rest, do read it.

THIS MISS RATES: /(4.5 stars)


Julie P said...

Great! I recently won this book from Laura at The Book Tree but I haven't received it yet. After seeing your rating and skimming over your review (didn't read it closely because I don't want to ruin it for myself), I am really looking forward to getting my hands on it. Thanks for sharing!

Emma said...

i really loved this one! one of my favorites, ever. the fact that it hasn't attracted all the crazed teen and merchandise hype as twilight makes it all the better :)