When I read the Twilight novels by Stephenie Meyer, I was sufficiently underwhelmed. I found the plot line engaging and fun, but wasn’t impressed by Meyer’s writing style. And don’t even get me started on the movies… Ugh. Now, before Team Edward arranges for my public lynching, hear me out: I may have been wrong about Meyer’s writing. It is entirely possible that reading The Host has changed my mind.
This novel, a sci-fi/romance hybrid that defies the laws of modern genre, is Meyer’s first foray into adult fiction. After reading it, I can honestly say that it’s better than her young adult fiction…maybe that was my problem with Twilight. Maybe.
Either way, The Host is an excellent read. If you’re looking for something with more substance than your grocery-store paperbacks, or less substance than, say, Stephen King, this book needs to be in your beach bag. As mentioned before, Meyer walks a fine line between genres that allows Wanderer and Melanie’s story to appeal to multiple audiences.
Here’s what you need to know about the plot, according to Publisher’s Weekly:
“In this tantalizing SF thriller, planet-hopping parasites are inserting their silvery centipede selves into human brains, curing cancer, eliminating war and turning Earth into paradise. But some people want Earth back, warts and all, especially Melanie Stryder, who refuses to surrender, even after being captured in Chicago and becoming a host for a soul called Wanderer. Melanie uses her surviving brain cells to persuade Wanderer to help search for her loved ones in the Arizona desert. When the pair find Melanie’s brother and her boyfriend in a hidden rebel cell led by her uncle, Wanderer is at first hated. Once the rebels accept Wanderer, whom they dub Wanda, Wanda’s whole perspective on humanity changes. While the straightforward narrative is short on detail about the invasion and its stunning aftermath, it shines with romantic intrigue, especially when a love triangle (or quadrangle?!) develops for Wanda/Melanie.”
It sounds wild and it is. And I can assure you that there are absolutely no vampires, werewolves, or strange hybrid babies featured in this novel. Still, Meyer applies her talent for a tangled web of love and lust to another strange inter-species love triangle. I guess that’s her thing.
Anyway, the science fiction, body-snatching alien bits seem to be white noise in the background. We learn about them, we come to understand them, almost without noticing it. Meyer introduces us to a new race of people, personified by the conflicted, too-good-to-be-true Wanderer, and it’s hard not to become just a little sympathetic to them. But truly this is Wanda’s coming-of-age story: how will she cope when she becomes sympathetic to her perceived enemies? Is there a way to be both herself and human?
Finding the answers to these questions is a journey you’ll enjoy. Meyer’s engaging narrative voice pulls you right into this story, making you feel as though you might be among those surviving humans hiding out in the Arizona desert. An impressive feat for a book that takes place mostly inside of someone’s head (the one shared by Wanda and Melanie.) Although this book has a tendency to drag just a teensy bit at times (particularly the beginning), you’ll be turning page after page to find out how Meyer posits reconciliation for Wanda and her friends.
Amazon users rank this book 4 out of 5 stars, calling it “exciting and thought-provoking…sci-fi for people who don’t like sci-fi.” I’m inclined to agree. Now let’s just hope that the movie (in pre-production, slated for late 2011 release) doesn’t disappoint!
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