Monday, 9 June 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host tells the story of Wanderer and Melanie, following the invasion of Earth by a race of parasitic aliens - think Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or the Goa'uld from Stargate SG1. Melanie is one of the few remaining free humans not taken over by a parasite. But the story opens with Wanderer being inserted into the back of her head. Yep - this story is told from the perspective of the parasitic alien. What follows is a coming to terms story. As Wanderer has to evaluate what her brothers and sisters have done in taking over the world. Unusually Melanie hasn't 'gone away' and Wanderer has to contend not only with the memories of her host but also the consciousness of her host itself. Compelled by Melanie, Wanderer sets out to find Jamie (Melanie's brother), putting both herself and Melanie in grave danger.

Without doubt this is my favourite book of the year so far. It makes you cry, makes you laugh and makes you think. And I don't think there's too much more you can ask from a book. I think it takes great skill to take a reader from sad, to happy, and back to sad and make it all feel real at the same time.

Very well written you understand both Melanie's perspective of violation and being taken away from her family too soon. But you also understand Wanderer's point of view and how the Souls must see us (humans) as disparate populations unable to get along with one another without violence, waste or misery. And I also found it pretty easy to follow who was talking and when..
Melanie was thinking sulfurous thoughts about the kind old man.

He was being nice. He's sincerely concerned about my welfare, I reminded her.

You're all very creepy, she told me acidly. Didn't anyone ever tell you not to talk to strangers?
This is largely being regarded as Stephenie Meyer's first adult book. Personally I'm not sure I see that, I always thought the end of the world would involve more swearing and more sex, and this book has none of either. So I think I regard that as more of a marketing ploy. I've also been reading some comparison between Twilight and The Host as first books in a series. I have read Twilight, and other than the fact it's about a vampire called Edward and a girl called Bella, couldn't tell you much else. The Host on the other hand is sticking in my brain. (Of course I'm going to read Twilight again after reading this :)).

Onto the characters, I don't think there is one character that isn't well written. Wanderer is a fascinating, and considering the aliens have taken over the world, she remains remarkably true to her pacifist nature.

Melanie on the other hand is much more kick ass if a little naive. When she and Wanderer manage to join some free humans, she is somewhat shocked at their attitude to her. Of course they don't realize Melanie is there, they only see the silver in her eyes - indicative of possession by an alien.

Wanderer after a lot of hard work, manages to forge a place for herself among the humans, and become friends with Melanie. But even as she does so, she comes to question what she and her entire race have done. And comes to realize that she has some difficult sacrifices to make.

If I'm being picky at one point Wanderer says the cryotanks were built of no element that existed on this planet. I'm not sure about that - at a certain point on the periodic table elements become unstable and I'd stick my neck out and say that's probably true on any planet.

At the very end of the book we meet Burns Living Flowers, and I so want to know his story. I hope that The Host is the first in a new series, and I'll definitely be getting book 2 whether it's marketed as Adult, Young Adult or anything else. Highly recommended.


Sarai said...

I am planning on picking this one up everyone who reads it loves it and I don't think I have heard anything negative about it.
Great review

Sarai said...

HEY Guess what we started a DIK blog email me your email (strange yes) and I will send ya the link and information of what we are doing!!! Email me a *g*

LesleyW said...

Sarai, LOL - e-mail on its way. And I heartily recommend The Host in case you hadn't guessed. :)

Naomi said...

I just started reading Twilight, expecting to be disappointed - it can't live up to all the hype, right? Two chapters in, I'm pleasantly surprised. And The Host sounds fantastic, so I'm hoping this is the start of a new author-to-be-obsessed-with thing.

LesleyW said...

Naomi - I have read Twilight but it hasn't stuck with me. After reading The Host though I'm definitely going to give her vampire series another go.

Marg said...

I am planning on starting this in the next few days! I am very excited about it and expecting big things!

LesleyW said...

Marg - hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Some people find the first couple of chapters slow, just in case you struggle a little getting into it. But I loved all of it.

Naomi said...

Lesley - having finished Twilight, I have to agree with you. The writing is lovely, but the story didn't stick with me, and it certainly didn't leave me desperate for the next installment. I'm less sure about picking up The Host ... paperback, maybe.

LesleyW said...

Naomi - I had the same feeling when I finished Twlight. I can barely recall any of the story now. I'd read quite a bit about The Host - I think there's an excerpt up at Stephenie Meyer's website which might give you an idea of what the book is about.

I was lucky 'cause I popped into Borders to have a browse and it was a couple of days after it had been released. It was on sale at half price - as some kind of promotion I think. So I got the hardback for a paperback price.