Jun 27, 2013

The Host, by Stephanie Meyer

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: 16+
Issues of Violence:  action violence, topic of suicide, euthanasia, dissection, knife wounds
Intimacy Level: a lot of kissing, talk of sex, passionate kissing (did I mention kissing?)
Swearing: h**l, d**n, bl**dy, b*gg*r, j*ck**s
Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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.

Initial Reaction: *****
 I picked up Stephanie Meyer's The Host on a whim. I'd seen the movie trailer and I was curious about the opening line. You can tell a lot about a book by its opening line. I had two flights that evening and the book was thick. I bought it. Two days and 800+ pages later, I finished it.

Plot: *****
It has a love story. I'm not a love-story type of gal. I read books for premise and world-building. The Host drew me in with its premise...and kept me there with the writing. Gone is Meyer's simple prose of a vampire love story. She enters a new level of eloquence and allure with The Host and I loved it. It is nothing like the Twilight series and I found the female protagonist strong and a much more appropriate role model for younger readers than Bella Swan.

The premise is the invasion of an unseen enemy into earth, called "souls". The souls use human bodies as "hosts". Melanie Stryder, one of the few remaining humans on earth is caught by the Seekers. Her body is used as a host to the foreign "soul", Wanderer, but Melanie's no wimp. She fights Wanderer's presence and control out of desperation to return to her brother...and her love, Jared.

Characters: *****
The book was slow moving, yet concretely suspenseful the entire time. I felt an instant connection with the main characters, Melanie and Wanderer, which kept me rooting for them. Many people called this story a unique love triangle, but I found it more of a love square, which is much more to my liking.

The science fiction culture mixed with Wanderer's "alien" mind fascinated me. They were beautifully delivered and thoughtfully developed. I found Wanderer's inner growth  distinctly deep, heart-wrenching, and realistic (for an alien). Her character grew and grew until she went from "the enemy" (in my mind) to my heroine.

Coming from a reader who doesn't like romance novels, I knew, judging by Meyer's history, that I'd probably encounter flaming goosebumps and deep gazes. Sure enough, Melanie's obsession over Jared had me rolling my eyes, especially because I didn't like Jared very much and I couldn't see why Melanie did. A lot of Meyer's basis for attraction between couples is based on chemistry. Did the physical touch create goosebumps or not? Heart flutter or not? Flaming mindless emotional drowning or not? 

That just doesn't do it for me. But Ian was so much more realistic, gentlemanly,  and a great example of a good man.

He was so...understanding, it made him instantly likeable in my book. A woman wants to be understood and, even though Wanderer is an alien, he manages to understand her the best way a human can. He is patient, respectful, sweet, but still with faults--a wonderful mix that won me over far more than Jared's brooding stubbornness.

At many points in the book, we enter Melanie's memories of being with Jared. In one instance, she expresses wanting to share a bed with him. She says when he touches her, she doesn't want him to stop. His drawback is that she's nine years younger than he is and underage. He also doesn't want to run the risk of bringing babies into their invaded, dying, war-torn world. Sex is implied and marriage is not.

On a side note for the book's sake, everyone is suspected of being an invader. This makes it hard to find anyone to perform a marriage, so two people in a serious relationship are called "partners". It implies faithfulness and something akin to marriage.
Overall Recommendation:
Overall, I enjoyed the book on many more levels than I thought I would. Even though there are supposed to be continuations, I thought this single novel wrapped itself up very nicely and I'm content leaving it where it is. Even with the romance side of things, everything stays appropriate. I loved this book.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.