by Diana Bulls
Stephenie Meyer, the author responsible for the young adult series The Twilight Saga, has also written her first adult book. The Host (released in May 2008 by Little, Brown & Company) is touted as “science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction.” It is, in fact, a combination of science fiction/romance with emphasis on an unusual love triangle.
Stories about aliens taking over the earth and inhabiting human hosts have been around for a long time, but Meyer has been able to put a new spin on a well-known story. She came up with the idea to alleviate her boredom while driving from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, and confesses that she was halfway done outlining the story in her head before she realized what she had done—created another major project for herself!
Unlike most invasions, the takeover of Earth in this book was a relatively peaceful one. The centipede-like aliens, known as “Souls,” have quietly infiltrated nearly every human brain, creating an idyllic world where disease, poverty, and violence are unknown. The irony is that despite having taken over eight worlds, the Souls are gentle, completely non-aggressive, creatures.
In this story, an alien named Wanderer is inserted into her human host, Melanie’s, body. Warned about possible human memories resurfacing after the initial insertion, Wanderer is still overwhelmed when her host refuses to fade away. Wanderer is unprepared for the range of emotions Melanie feels for her lover and family, and she finds it impossible to push Melanie out of her mind. Eventually Wanderer realizes that she feels as deeply for these unknown humans as her human host does. She also comes to realize what the Souls’ invasion meant to humans. Wanderer and Melanie form an uneasy truce and set off to find Melanie’s human family hiding in the desert. What follows is the story of Wanderer’s time with the human resistance movement.
There are some techno elements, but one can’t consider this novel hard-core science fiction. It is more social science fiction, focusing on the depth of human emotions and whether it is right for one society to impose itself and its beliefs on another. There is also the quandary of two lives, enemies really, sharing one body but having to work together in order to survive.
Although the beginning of the book moved a bit slowly, the suspense does build and one becomes quite attached to the characters. Wanderer is gentle and loving. She is continually pulled between her duty as a Soul and the compassion she feels for the humans she is struggling to understand. The humans are not always portrayed in the most flattering light, and Wanderer seems to be the most human of everyone.
This is a long book—100,000 words—and perhaps not quite as compelling as the Twilight books. In fact, if you are expecting similar, you will probably be disappointed. I enjoyed the book very much—in fact, I read it in one weekend. Is Stephenie Meyer one of the greatest authors of all time? Probably not. But, believe me, she can tell a story.
For more information about this book and the author visit Stephenie Meyer’s website. The Host is now available in paperback.