By Stephenie Meyer, Grade: A
Stephenie Meyer seems obsessed with the supernatural. With the Twilight series she recreated the image of vampires in the minds of people. She imagined them in a way that nobody else had, and just look at the results! With The Host, she went a step further. She actually created something entirely new and completely different, even in the realm of the mythological. It goes without saying that she succeeded. Again.
The Host is an unconventional story and totally spectacular at it.
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.
Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, 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.
Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts 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 yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.
The Host is about a species invading earth and taking over the minds of their hosts-the humans. This book brings out the situation that arises if these little ‘souls’ are inserted into their hosts and the humans essentially are supposed to be gone although the soul has their memories. The story is all about such two combinations of a human and a soul i.e. Melanie-the human and Wanderer-the soul. Melanie is one of few “wild” humans – rebels who have evaded the alien souls that have taken over the Earth. With her younger brother Jamie and the man she loves — Jared Howe, She is on the run from souls who hunt down host bodies for use.
Souls are creatures that rely upon host bodies to survive. After insertion, they erase any mental presence of the being there prior and establish a claim over the body and mind. Earth is Wanderer’s ninth planet, and Melanie is her ninth host body. Wanderer goes crazy at first trying to get rid of her but eventually they find they like each other and develop a bond together. Wanderer started having more and more of Melanie’s memories and feelings and they came to a sort of understanding with each other. She wanted her to feel all of the feelings and emotions she did so that she would not be destroyed.
When Melanie wants to know where the people she left behind are and when she and Wanderer set out to do just that, the story becomes a struggle for survival and learning to live in a different world. Did the souls continued to occupy the minds and bodies of the humans? Was there any solution given by Melanie and Wanderer?
To begin with, I have to mention that I felt that the name Wanderer was awesome. Though it is a petty thing, yet I was really impressed with it and the thought process behind it. The concept behind the book is fabulous. It is novel and inventive. The writer had a lot of scope in this story, simply because this kind of an idea had never been explored before. And she made ample use of that fact.
I loved the way that she portrayed the conflicts between Wanderer and Melanie. The contradictions in their thoughts were amazingly depicted. I also liked the fact that both the central characters (Melanie and Wanderer) were dissimilar to each other, yet sympathized with each other’s problems, at least towards the end.
The other characters were also very strong. I liked the love rectangle, so to speak, between Jared, Ian, Melanie and Wanderer. It was one of a kind, and immediately drew me in. Jamie’s character was also very well developed and he added liveliness to the story and the relationship between him and Melanie/Wanderer was uncontaminated which made the story richer. Ian, of course, was a treat to read, because he had his priorities clear and never got confused between Wanderer and Melanie.
However, Jared’s character seemed a little harsh, but given the circumstances, it was not unforgivable. He also seemed a little confused, but again, it wasn’t completely without reason.
What delighted me was Wanderer’s selflessness. It is not humane to be as selfless as she was, but that was just the point. She wasn’t really what you could call human. And Melanie’s character was also nicely characterised. She came across as- sharp, strong, determined and even selfish when need be.
The story was also really fresh. I won’t reveal the ending, since that would just blow the secret, but all I can say is that the end is phenomenal. Despite all that, I still felt that the story dragged on few times, and that the cave was not very realistic, though one can hardly expect that from a novel which has supernatural elements in it. I got a little bored in some parts, although those parts were few and far in between.
To sum up The Host is difficult, but I would basically say that it is a fresh book with a really creative concept. A must read if you are a fan of books with mystical themes and also if you want to read something different and fascinating. It leaves you thinking long after the last page had been turned.