Fresh amidst the success of the Twilight saga came The Host; Stephanie Meyer’s first non-vampiric novel. Apart from affirming her majesty with the written word, it also proved that Meyer was not a one trick pony. In The Host Meyer embraces different sci-fi realms to those to which her Twilight fans may be accustomed to, but the book is still identifiably Meyer-esque.
Imagine the scenario; an alien species, ‘the souls’, have descended upon Earth and have taken to inhabiting human bodies as they are parasitic in nature and need to depend on another life to survive. Earth is their newest acquisition and the human race is all but extinct; replaced instead with aliens playing the part of humanity. Enter our protagonist, Wanderer. Acclaimed amongst her species, Wanderer has lived on eight different planets before arriving on Earth. Far from merely providing her with another body in which to live and experience life, Earth throws Wanderer into a journey that will make her question her species’ intentions and what it is that makes somebody human after her host body begins talking to her.
Many people have referred to The Host as Meyer’s move toward writing more ‘adult’ novels due to its concerns with social prejudice and what it is to be human, condemning the Twilight series to be viewed as teenage vampire fiction. The questions that the Host raises are interesting and the book gives a new spin on the alien body snatcher theme. The book gives fresh insight on a well known theme and refreshingly its focus is localised to one intruder and is told from her viewpoint.
The relationship that grows between Wanderer and Melanie, the woman whose body she inhabits, is both volatile and tender. With Melanie’s constant presence Wanderer’s perspective is challenged. The changes that Wanderer experiences propel her into the face of unknown challenges and, without giving too much away, help to define her. At times she is described as being almost more human than humans themselves calling humanity into question whilst she is consistently altruistic, self-sacrificing and obstinate, but not annoyingly so. Her species’s presumptions about humanity and its inherent brutality are queried and when trying to ascertain who is the real monster species fingers are pointed at both opposing parties.
The Host implicitly looks at the role of the novel too; the novel is itself a vehicle for the author / parasite to convey either soul or humanity, love or supposed brutality. The inevitable blurring of the divisions suggests that both humanity and novels alike will forever tend towards an eternal grey area, something that Wanderer step closer to throughout the book.
Although the beginning of the book is slightly monotonous, it begins to pick up pace and gallops toward the end from about a third of the way through. Definitely worth a read even if you are not a Twilight fan.
Best character; The mysterious Jeb.
Best bit; The raids are quite scary!