The Host, doesn’t employ an original storyline because to me, it sounded like another version of the Body Snatchers. When I mentioned the plot of Ms. Meyer’s book to my family, almost all of them said, Stargate. I’ve never watched Stargate but as the saying goes, there are no original ideas. Moving on.
In this story, an “alien race” of parasites has taken over the planet, using humans as hosts and leaving only a handful of human rebels behind. While humans fought the good fight, in the end, well, they lost.
The main story arc follows Wanderer, a soul who has been recently inserted inside a human host. Her host turns out to be apart of the human resistance and her name is Melanie Stryder. She died a violent death (only to be healed later as a viable host). After discovering she was trapped by the alien invaders, she threw herself down an elevator shaft.
Melanie makes her presence known to her new host almost immediately and the two battle with each other for the upper hand. Resistant hosts are rare. Needless to say that Wanderer controls the body but Melanie’s thoughts and memories are hard to suppress. Wanderer’s job is to report any info that she learns about the human resistance from Melanie but Melanie makes it difficult for her to do so. Wanderer does know that Melanie left behind two people she loved most: her little brother Jamie and the love of her life, Jared.
Wanderer and Melanie develop a tentative friendship out of necessity since they both have to share one body. Melanie uses what power she has, in the form of dreams and memories to gain Wanderer’s attention and sympathy and draw her into her cause. The tip over to the rebel side isn’t really all that hard since Wanderer is already feeling somewhat sympathetic and guilty about what her people have done. She starts to suffer a crisis of loyalty with her relationship with Melanie and strikes out to find the two people she left behind.
Wanderer does discover the band of human rebels led by Melanie’s Uncle Jeb and she spends most of the story in captivity with them, only to come out a different person at the end. She becomes a significant part of their human community (only after they slowly accept her, most of them anyway) and helpful in their raids for medicine and food. As for the love triangle, that was rather weird (and somewhat predictable) and I didn’t particularly care for it but she did resolve things nicely.
A lot of Melanie’s memories and feelings toward Jamie and Jared are shared with Wanderer aka Wanda (her human name). I got impatient with her having all these feelings for Jared because I felt he didn’t deserve it. He was the last one to come around when a few others were convinced (after a brief time period) that she meant them no harm. The first time he sees her, he punches her in the face. Funny, in that her Uncle figured it out (about Melanie still being alive) but Jared was much harder to convince and he was allegedly, the love of her life, but he fails to recognize her.
I think midway into the story, another hero was starting to emerge and it was the last person I would have expected Wanda to hook up with but anybody else was better than Jared. I won’t reveal his name. Their scenes together were really nice and I looked forward to reading them. I thought the hero, once he came around like the others, was a bit too accepting of Wanda, because technically, she is a parasite attached to Melanie’s brain. I thought the author was overreaching there, in his total acceptance of her species but it was nice that he could overlook all of that.
After finishing this book in two days, I didn’t really take much time after to really digest the story. I will say that the author’s main theme was about what it means to be “human” and we get to see that perspective, the good and the bad from an “alien point of view”. Melanie was a much more aggressive character, someone I could identify with while Wanda is more self-sacrificing and always willing to do the right thing. The story maintains a nice tension throughout this 625 page story. I had my moments of uncertainty about the outcome of these characters. I cared about what happened to them, found myself worried for them and forced myself to read the ending, just to make sure everything would be a-OK (haven’t done that in awhile.)
The body count in here is pretty low. There’s no sex, just a lot of hand holding and kissing. The chemistry is nice as is the implied sexuality, where the characters come close but then it’s aborted. Ages 12 and up is the recommended audience for this story. I found nothing inappropriate or overly sexual. Your mileage may vary. I’m sure the story had some plot holes, some lapses in logic, a couple of threads overlooked, but despite all of that (if anything), I was entertained. The sci-fi aspects are low-key so it is a novel more or less for those who don’t enjoy sci-fi. The epilogue seems to hint at a sequel, too. I’m intrigued enough to want to know what happens next. My grade, a solid B.