The Host by Stephenie Meyer and narrated by Kate Reading
Sci-Fi, Published 2008
Read Oct 2010, Unabridged Audio, 21 hrs
Challenges: RIP V, Audio Book, YA
Shelf Life: 2 years 4 months, Purchased HB 5/1/08
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. But Wanderer, the invading “soul” who occupies Melanie’s body, finds its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who has avoided invasion and lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Soon Wanderer and Melanie – reluctant allies – 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 really did not like the beginning of this story, (however, after finishing, I want to go back and reread it). I made it a few hours into the audio and wondered whether or not I should continue, but boy, I am so glad I did! I think since the beginning starts immediately with an action sequence, with the alien transfer taking place, I was really confused. I didn’t know where I was or who I was supposed to be. I have read other reviewers having this same confusion, but I definitely don’t think the audio helps in this aspect. The narrator makes Wanderer sound very mechanical or robotic. Her voice is very monotone and it was hard at times to get the needed inflection.
Once some of the background information was given about the aliens and what they were doing, I started to understand what was going on better. At first I did not like them, especially the Seeker. Wanderer, however, is truly fascinating. She has been many things and lived 8 lives before coming to Earth. Once Melanie awoke inside Wanderer’s mind and started giving her a hard time, that’s when I really became interested in the story and didn’t want to get out of my car so I could listen more.
The love triangle aspect is truly unique. Melanie and Wanderer (Wanda) both share Melanie’s human body and Jared loves Melanie and Ian loves Wanda. It takes Jared a really long time to believe Melanie is still alive. I really hated the violence Jared had toward Wanda. Even if Mel was gone, taken by the Souls and never to return, how could he desecrate her body? I think overall I preferred Jared over Ian (Team Jared, if you will), mostly based on Melanie’s memories of him, but I really wanted Wanda to just shake him and slap him across the face and tell him to stop being such a *BAD WORD* !! I also really liked his inherent survival skills. However, I really could have done without all the hitting. Ian, to me, needed a little more grit. I liked that he was so kind to Wanda, but he seemed to be too much of an opposite of his brother Kyle. Side Note: REALLY liked the Sunny & Kyle storyline!!
I think the only reason this book is not technically considered to be YA is because of the violence, but I think any teen who has read the Twilight Saga has read The Host as well. There is not a lot of gore and blood, per se, but a lot of domestic abuse toward Wanderer/Melanie when the humans still believed she had come to harm them or turn them in to the Souls. Meyer continually made the point that humans, while able to have complex emotions, were naturally evil and violent toward one another and that the aliens or “Souls” were inherently good and that’s why they had taken over the earth.
Because he was a soul, by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous, and full of love. -p. 3
But I think a major point was missed and I was really hoping Melanie would have stressed it to Wanda. If the Souls were so good and revulsed away from guns and violence, why did they then not feel any remorse against taking over a human’s body? And if that human’s mind did not cooperate (i.e. give way to the Soul) then they were discarded and considered useless. The Souls did not account for the person inside, like Wanderer comes to realize through her human journey, so isn’t that essentially evil as well? The person’s death may have been committed less violently than the way of the humans, yet it had the same end result.
I read on Melanie’s blog, I’m pretty sure she is unrelated to Mel in the book ;), that she would have really liked to have seen a map of the caves. I so agree! Wouldn’t that be so awesome? I am discovering that I LOVE fantasy books with maps, but I’ll save that topic for another post.
I loved the ending and I really hope Meyer delivers with a trilogy. They are tentatively titled The Soul and The Seeker. I just hope they don’t disappoint me like the Twilight saga. I LOVED Twilight, still really loved New Moon, really liked Eclipse, but was ultimately disappointed with Breaking Dawn (ummm, no review but I gave it a 3.5/5, which is pretty low on my generous scale). I also really liked the graphic novel.
Life and love went on in the last human outpost on the planet Earth, but things did not stay exactly the same. I was not the same. -p. 609
Perhaps there could be no joy on this planet without an equal weight of pain to balance it out on some unknown scale. -p. 609