Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.
When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.
This review has been a long time coming. I've been meaning to sit and write about this book for so long that it's ridiculous. Finally I'm getting to it!
Now, first I need to get on the defensive. I am well aware that it's popular to slam Stephenie Meyer's writing, but I enjoyed the Twilight books! Okay, the films are dire... very, very dire... but the books were honestly entertaining! Nonetheless, I would not defend them as well-written classics. They can't be, because they are derived from classics. Or at least, the first three were.
Here's the theory:
Twilight = Pride and Prejudice
New Moon = Romeo and Juliet
Eclipse = Wuthering Heights.
This derivation is part of what made these books so enjoyable. It's also part of why they can't be considered great. They didn't give the world anything that it hadn't seen before. If you think they did, then you didn't read the books I did as a kid. Christopher Pike and the Point Horror bunch were writing about vampires with consciences back in the days commonly referred to as "yore"!
When people jump on the Meyer-bashing bandwagon, they don't seem to consider The Host. If they did, they wouldn't bash.
The Host is an incredible book. Unlike her other works, The Host was written with an adult audience in mind. There's no sex, no drugs, no harsh language, even. It's the complexity of the plot that made The Host a more advanced read. The first time I read this book, I did so the old fashioned way. Paper pages. Old school, eh? Meyer weaves a complex web from the very beginning of the book that left me furrowing my brow to begin with. And then the plot swallowed me whole.
The fact that I went and got the audiobook as well as the hardback shows how much I loved this book. I wanted to hear the dual voices of Wanda and Mel and the narration by Kate Reading is absolutely perfect for this. Her voice is strangely unfeeling and lacking in nuance to begin with...before she becomes more "human". Kate Reading brought even more life to Meyer's words than I could have imagined.
If Meyer falls down with Twilight, she more than compensates with The Host. A love triangle involving three bodies and four souls... it was new to me (though I don't pretend to be a connoisseur of science fiction)! Meyer's characters are beautifully drawn and individualised, which is quite an achievement given the fairly large cast. Meyer's description might lack literary colour, but that suits the alien voice of Wanderer. She is seeing everything for the first time and so describes her experience in a vivid and vibrant way which lacks familiar cliché.
IMDB has a page set up for the movie adaptation here. I'm excited about this and dreading it too. When Twilight became a movie, it got all popular and and the tweens crawled all over it. Given the success of those movies, the tweens will no doubt line up for The Host too. Nothing makes me sadder in a cinema than teenage girls drooling and deciding which "team" they are on as far as the male leads are concerned. Ick.
If you haven't read anything by Stephenie Meyer yet, or if those accursed tweens have left you dubious, then I wholeheartedly recommend trying The Host. In fact, it's imperative that you go and get yourself a copy of the audiobook right now. It'll be a purchase you won't regret. I've listened to my copy four times because it's just that good.