October 9, 2008

The Host

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Combine science fiction with romance and you have Stephanie Meyer’s first adult fiction novel. The Host concentrates on what it means to be human in the wake of a foreign invasion.
We’ve all heard the alien conspirators, the paranoid people who believe that the Earth is under attack and people are being abducted. This novel shows what would happen if those conspiracy nuts were right all along. Not just another extraterrestrial science fiction conundrum, we see the story through the eyes of one of these aliens, forcing a perhaps unwanted sympathy. By constructing this point of view, Meyer turns the violence and animalistic nature of humans into a dualistic package.
Extraterrestrial beings, called souls, have taken over the minds and bodies of the human race. Melanie Stryder, living as a “wild” human, finds herself captured and possessed by one of the souls she’s been fleeing from. Instead of sinking into nothingness, Melanie’s voice stays in the head of her new occupant, a soul named Wanderer (Wanda). As Wanderer sees Melanie’s memories and past relationships, she feels sympathy for her host, and together they set out to find Melanie’s family and the hidden colony of uninhabited humans. Once there, they face a different kind of trial: gaining the trust of these humans, all of whom initially see Wanderer as nothing but a destroyer of their race.
Though set in unusual circumstances, the storyline is somewhat predictable. The author raises the question of whether we are intrinsically good or evil, and the answer gradually evolves as Wanda gains the human’s acceptance and learns to see them as more than dangerous monsters.
The novel was similar to her New York Times bestselling series Twilight, which comprised of supposed monsters and humans learning to live with and love each other. While this was supposed to be her first step into the world of adult fiction, there seemed to be no difference in the writing style or the subject matter. However, considering she managed to have a love triangle between four minds, I would say she was fairly successful in giving overdone topics unique twists.
While The Host somewhat reminded me somewhat of Nicole Kidman’s B-list movie The Invasion, I still responded enthusiastically to Meyer’s entertaining writing and gladly ignored all homework for the duration of my reading.