Review posted October 12, 2008.
Little, Brown, and Company, 2008. 619 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2008: #2 Fiction
I thoroughly enjoyed The Host, liking it even better than Stephenie Meyer's more famous Twilight series. This one was written for adults, so that may be some of why I liked it. But I also thought it was well-written. She didn't have the whole traditional spectrum of vampire stories to contend with.
Of course, she did have the noble tradition of body-snatcher stories up against her! But I haven't read or watched very many of those at all. Her description of what it would be like if mind-stealing aliens tried to take over earth seemed right. Of course! That is what would happen.
Wanderer is an alien who has lived on seven different planets. But when she is put into the body of a human on earth, it doesn't go as smoothly as with any other host. The host begins by hiding things from Wanderer. Names of people she loves, and where they might be hiding. She doesn't want Wanderer to tell a Seeker. However, this host, named Melanie, should not still be there at all.
Melanie's voice gets stronger. Wanderer is ready to give up, to find a new host and let a Seeker be put into Melanie's body. But somehow, she can't bring herself to give up Jared and Jamie. Instead, she goes to find them.
Can Wanderer, nicknamed Wanda, keep from betraying the humans she now loves as much as Melanie does? Will those humans even give her a chance, since they think of her as the monstrous mind-thief alien who stole Melanie's body?
I found myself believing that indeed humans would not just disappear if powerful aliens invaded our planet. Indeed, the aliens might find more than they bargained for.
The Host is a wonderful exploration of life and love and what it means to be human.
I knew the human exaggeration for sorrow -- a broken heart. Melanie remembered speaking the phrase herself. But I'd always thought of it as hyperbole, a traditional description for something that had no real physiological link, like a green thumb. So I wasn't expecting the pain in my chest. The nausea, yes, the swelling in my throat, yes, and, yes, the tears burning in my eyes. But what was the ripping sensation just under my rib cage? It made no logical sense.