The Host by Stephenie Meyer - 5/5 stars
Release Date: May 6, 2008
Captivating. Otherworldly. Beautiful.
"Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.
Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human."
I'm just going to start by admitting that it is embarrassing how long it took me to get around to reading this. Seriously. Feel free to mock. I can take it like a big girl. I had a copy sitting on my bookshelf since it came out. In 2008. Yeah, that bad. I'm even more ashamed to admit it was the movie that finally kicked my ass into gear, because I absolutely refused to let this be one of those saw-the-movie-first books, especially since it's one of Caroline's favorites and she would have judged me so hard.
I should also probably state that I still love Twilight. This is one of a relatively small number of areas that Caroline and I disagree on (at least, that are book-related), but the series will always have a special place in my heart. That being said, this was so much better.
We start off following Wanderer, a member of an alien race that has taken over humanity by implanting themselves in our bodies. In the wake of this invasion, the world has changed. They've ended disease, war, hunger, environmental destruction and basically every other negative Earth had to offer. But still there is a resistance - small pockets of humans that have not been taken and will die before they let it happen. Wanderer wakes to find herself implanted in one such human and that the seekers - the closet things to lawmakers left - hope she will be able to access her host's memories to lead them to more of the resistance. But this is no ordinary human. Melanie's strong. And she's here to stay.
Suddenly Melanie's memories are no longer just information to be relayed to the seekers. With strong will, Melanie begins to show Wanderer why everyone she loves is precious and should be kept safe. Melanie's feelings are suddenly become Wanderer's, and they're leading her on a quest that will forever separate her from her own race.
One of the major appeals of this novel for me was that it's pitched as "sci-fi for those who don't like sci-fi." Now, I love sci-fi, but there's a tendency in the genre to focus way more than necessary on the "science" (I say "science," because, let's be real, it's generally fringe science at best) than is really necessary to the story. I'm hoping to be a bioengineer, so I love science, but not when it's just thrown in to make you sound smart. No one needs that. The Host is by far less science than I've been able to handle in the past, but it's a great gateway. This book actually gives me a chance to discuss something in the general genre with my friends who aren't into science (*coughCarolinecough*).
My favorite part of the sci-fi story line to the book was the stories from all of the different planets. Those, if nothing else, cemented my opinion of Meyer as a kick-ass storyteller. They were all amazing, unique, and incredibly intricate considering they were really of comparatively little importance to the overall story. It was especially amazing that she moved passed the human ego (something rampant in the genre) and created a series of different lifeforms, none of which were humanoid.
But, above anything, I loved the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer. From the most unlikely of beginnings, they formed the kind of friendship we all wish to have; the kind where you would do anything for the other person. Their progression from hostile to a near need for each other was perfect and led me to tears. Yeah, I cry a lot.
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone at all interested in sci-fi, fantasy, or even just great stories about human nature and all that can involve. It's easy to fall in love with these characters, likely seeing parts of yourself in both Wanda and Mel. This is definitely a book I see sticking with me for a long time to come.