REVIEW: 'The Host' by Stephenie Meyer

The Host by Stephenie MeyerStephenie Meyer has temporarily set aside her vampires to give us, adults, a science fiction story. Well, she exceeded my expectations because this book turned out to be a solid sci-fi thriller.

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.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer was published on May 6, 2008 by Little and Brown and is available in hardcover for $25.99 and ebook for $17.99 at your favorite retailer.

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About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Grade B Reviews, Teen Fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to REVIEW: 'The Host' by Stephenie Meyer

  1. Margaret says:

    Love the review, Keishon. I’ve been on the fence about The Host, but now I know which side I’m on. I loved Twilight, but have been disappointed in the two sequels, and will pass on the third unless Bella straightens up.

    Thanks.

  2. Christine says:

    Thanks for the review, Keishon. I have The Host on my desk ready to read. As a big fan of the Twilight Saga (especially Twilight), I’m really curious to hear Meyer’s voice in a new story.

  3. Karen W. says:

    I have 150 pages left in THE HOST, and I don’t want to see it end. I haven’t wanted to put it down, and I love character-driven stories and these characters seem very real to me. Loving it!

  4. Ana says:

    Yours is the first review I see of this book. I am still on the fence for this one, I am not sure I would like given the plot – just a feel. But the review was very good. Thanks.

  5. LesleyW says:

    I read the first chapter (or part of it) at the website and was hooked. Again the premise reminded me of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Puppet Masters, but told from the parasites point of view. Looking forward to getting my copy.

  6. Sarai says:

    This is one I have been waiting for but put off buying due to cost. I guess I will seriously re-think that b/c I love a good sci-fi fantasy any day. Great review.

  7. Jane says:

    Thanks for the review. I am thinking of passing. At 600+ pages, it’s just too daunting for me.

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  9. LesleyW says:

    Popped into Borders today and it was on the shelf so picked up a copy.

    Wow! it’s so big. Could use it as a doorstop. Had a quick flick through and it looks like it’s going to be a great read.

  10. kathy says:

    the twilight series is alot better than host

  11. PD says:

    Kathy: I respectfully disagree with you. I enjoyed the twilight series enough to read them a number of times (5 is a number, isn’t it?), however, ‘The Host’ is the only book that I have ever read again, back-to-back. Yep, I finished it last Friday a.m., made coffee, thought about Mel/Wanda and picked it BACK up and started reading it again from page one, word one. I’ve read a few books in my short life (as compared to Edward): Fountainhead, Lord Jim, Gatsby, Michener, Grisham, Anita Blake, etc., etc., etc. I won’t say ‘The Host’ is great, however, it IS the only book I have ever read back-to-back, it IS the best, to-date, book written by Ms. Meyer, it DID drag me through emotions that I seldom, as ever, experience when I reading a book. Is ‘The Host’ thought provoking? Yeah, I’d say so…

  12. Kailana says:

    I was on the fence about this book too because of how much Bella has been annoying me in Meyer’s other series, but I might pick it up afterall. I had forgotten all about it, but I saw it at the bookstore the other day.

  13. Karen W. says:

    I agree that THE HOST is even better than the “Twilight” series, as much as I enjoyed those books. I keep thinking about THE HOST and the characters and have been recommending it to my customers at the bookstore.

  14. Gwennevere says:

    I am absolutely not on the fence as a lot of people seem to be. How can you not love this book? I suppose it’s a matter of opinion but I 100% loved this. I wasn’t sure what it would be like. I’m IN LOVE with the twilight serious. I think stephenie meyers is brilliant, and I wasn’t sure what another book aside from that serious would be like. I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up until 5am reading it the first night I got it….I got 2 hours of sleep….went to an appointment…came home and had to finish it. I’m still reeling from the story and it’s been 4 days since I’ve finished it. Read it. You will fall for these characters. All of them. Another hit for stephenie meyers!!

  15. Sonia says:

    Thanks for the review! I was wondering if I should even get this and now I think I will!

  16. Amber says:

    I actually enjoyed the twilight series more than this book, mostly because the twilight series was just more interesting and I found the conversations between mel and wanda confusing and then going on and on in a cave where each day is about the same with the same people but I read it anyway and found that I love this book and even a month after reading it I still can’t stop thinking about what will happen next. Stephenie said that she has finished the next book and will publish it in a year or so which I am very excited about.

  17. Christine says:

    -MILD SPOILER ALERT-

    After reading twilight, new moon, and part of eclipse, I knew that The Host would be [at the very least] a good read. From the very first chapter I was successfully sucked in. At many points in the book I found myself seething with hatred for The Seeker, floating on cloud nine whenever agood memory of Jared was mentioned, and smiling at how vividly I was able to see the cavernous new home that Wanderer was to live in.

    I got the book a few days ago, and [only being able to read it at night before bed] every night I found myself on the edge of my…. bed absolutely loving it so much that I didn’t realise it was 4am or later when I’d will myself to put the book down.

    Now, as I sit here, I am deeply saddened that I’m finished. But only because I know that it’ll be a long while until the next one is released! :3

    Although it is the very first book in the series, I know that it has booted Harry Potter right out of it’s seat as my favorite string of books. [Lordy I am a nerd]

  18. Avid Reader says:

    Hi Christine –

    I thought Meyer did a great job with the flashbacks. She managed to pull me in emotionally. I remember thinking that the plot was weird and I didn’t think it would work. Surprisingly, it worked. I look forward to seeing what she has planned for these characters.

  19. Kelsey says:

    I’m about 2/3 done with the book and I really have enjoyed it so far. I started reading the Twilight series last year since all my friends loved it, and I have decided something which may be an unpopular opinion. Meyer is a good enough writer, but she is actually lacking in the romance category. I get tired of her endless descriptions of Edward as ‘glorious’ and ‘indescribable’ in the books, because it seems like she is trying WAY too hard to sell him to the reader. Apparently it works on most teenage fangirl, but I guess I’m a little bit more …cynical? However most of the plot and suspenseful parts of the Twilight series make for a very good read (the Volturi storylines, the Cullen histories, etc)

    Same thing happened with The Host. It gripped my interest and I got invested in some of the characters but I absolutely could not stand Jared. I know he was supposed to be hot but everytime he was mentioned I pictured some abusive hillbilly. His personality was not attractive at all to me. At least the adjectives she used to describe Edward Cullen made him sound like someone the average girl would want to be around.

  20. Avid Reader says:

    It gripped my interest and I got invested in some of the characters but I absolutely could not stand Jared.

    Hey Kelsey. I wasn’t all that enamored of Jared either especially when he first sees Melanie. I mean I know that this alien race is reviled but he was the last one to turn a new leaf and what I couldn’t quite figure out was why her uncle was the only one who recognized that she was still there and the love of her life did not.

  21. Iray says:

    Im kind of half way to the book, I think its amazing. I love how i can read for a long time, im 13 years old and you have to be a really good writer to be able to make me read for such a long time.
    The whole thing with Jared, does he really love Mel? Because if he did then why wasn´t he able to see that she was still there??

  22. Avid Reader says:

    The whole thing with Jared, does he really love Mel? Because if he did then why wasn´t he able to see that she was still there??

    I thought the same thing, Iray, only because the Uncle recognized her almost immediately and if Jared was supposed to be “the love of her life” it was disappointing that he didn’t recognize that her spirit was still there along with Wanderers. He does love her but it just takes him a little bit longer to be convinced along with many of the other human survivors of the resistence. I’m glad you’re enjoying THE HOST because despite it’s flaws, overall, it’s a good read.

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  24. Iray says:

    Yeah, I finished the book a while ago. I think it’s great that they all get to be happy. I just hope they make it into a series.

    Avid Reader:
    I thought the same thing, Iray, only because the Uncle recognized her almost immediately and if Jared was supposed to be “the love of her life” it was disappointing that he didn’t recognize that her spirit was still there along with Wanderers. He does love her but it just takes him a little bit longer to be convinced along with many of the other human survivors of the resistence. I’m glad you’re enjoying because despite it’s flaws, overall, it’s a good read.

  25. Rachel says:

    I LOVED both the Host and the Twilight Saga… and i am SOOO excited she wil be making a sequel to The Host… or so i’ve heard. Anyway, i recommend both, for teens and adults alike!!! 🙂

  26. aa says:

    every women loves that pure love idea. Even you are only brillant solid material, one man loves you in every condition. These is perfect love and that book not sci fi book, just a love story

  27. Anna says:

    I found Twilight to be okay, but unoriginal and a bit too…corny. This is odd coming from a 15-year-old girl (most teenagers loved it) but I read a book a day. Therefore, I’ve read a lot of really good books, so Twilight was…just okay.

    The Host, though…wow. Blew me away. Like the reviewer, I read it back to back…to back to back. I literally read it three times in a row. It was ridiculous. My family thought I was insane, but I loved it. Wanda wasn’t my favorite character- wayyy to much like Bella, and so darn perfect it was impossible- but I thought Melanie was great! She reminded me all too much of myself. And Jared? Ahh…..Jared! What else can I say? <333

  28. Avid Reader says:

    Anna: Wanda wasn’t my favorite character- wayyy to much like Bella, and so darn per­fect it was impossible- but I thought Melanie was great!

    Completely agree. Melanie had some spunk and a fighting spirit. I am all over the sequel if she writes it. 0-O

  29. Pa says:

    Margaret: Love the review, Keis­hon. I’ve been on the fence about The Host, but now I know which side I’m on. I loved Twi­light, but have been dis­ap­pointed in the two sequels, and will pass on the third unless Bella straight­ens up. Thanks.

  30. Avid Reader says:

    Pa – for the strangest reason, the emailed version of your comment shows up but on the site it does not. Strange.

  31. Chastity says:

    I have read the first 5 chapters and NO I stand alone I guess… I am not enjoying this book at all.. it is nothing like Twilight saga and it takes a lot to finally get into the book and I think im done. I Love Meyers and the way she makes you fall in love with her charecters but, The Host has not hit me yet and I do not have time to read a 600 page book that isn’t my type.

  32. Vanessa says:

    Not that bad of a review! Personaly i loved the book! I’v read it twice already (which never happens) and I am 14 and was a HUGE Twilight fan. But reading this book was a A+. Your review was all in all good except you had a little to much disagreement with the book. Yes it had some bad spots (going to far to get to the main points) but all in all great!

  33. CactusFreek says:

    I want to read this book, and can seporate it in my head from Twilight. But Twilight took a while to get into. If i didn’t have someone nagging me to keep going, i would have put the book down and left it.
    So I’m worried that this book might also be a slow starter.
    I’m glad you had a possitive review. I might go buy it afterall :o)

  34. Spoofy says:

    I thought that the Host was a wonderful, well-written book by Stephenie Meyer. It took me a while to get into, but once you get past the first fifty pages or so, it starts getting so good. It becomes one of those books you can’t put down. I think that this book was just as good, if not better, than the Twilight series. I loved the characters, and the theme of this book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

  35. Emma says:

    I found The Host thoroughly entertaining. i think you did a great job with the review. i liked the twilight series, i think the movies are/will be pathetic. And lastly.. favorite character definately Melanie, all though i think she seems more like a Mallory too me. thanksss

  36. Keebler says:

    I think this was a really good book. It took me a while to get into it at first though. I wasn’t completely interested until Wanda’s fight with Kyle. But the last half was good. From one to ten, i’d give it a seven.

  37. Kitkat says:

    Much preferred this book to the twilight saga which is not putting the series down as i also loved the series. This book reminded me more of “stranger in a strange land” by Robert Heinlein than body snatchers though.

  38. nikkki says:

    poorly written book, unfortunately. loved the story and dreams/memories as well as the idea of the book..

  39. Ralph Villanueva says:

    I probably won’t read it, but the idea has already been done. StarTrek Deep Space 9 had a character named Dax, that was worm like alien that would “join” with a human/alien life force called Trills. Dax was said to have inhabited over 9 bodies or Hosts, moving on each time the body would get to old to sustain life. All the memories, experiences and accumulated skills would stay intact in each new body she would inhabit. So her idea is not new and fresh……..and throwing a love triangle in the story?

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