Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review of The Host by Stephanie Meyer

I just finished reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer, and I had a hard time putting it down! That’s pretty typical of me when I’m reading a good book. I was apprehensive about reading it. Although I’ve loved every book from The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, the first time I picked up The Host I was less than impressed. I was standing alone in a bookstore in a mall and flipped through it. It didn’t look like anything I wanted to read. I asked others who have read it what they thought of it, and I kept hearing similar responses; if you can get through the first couple of chapters, you’ll love it.

I disagree with the people who have told me that the first few chapters are boring! They are background information, yes. But, they are the foundation for the story. When watching movies, I pay very close attention to the first five minutes. I can almost always predict the ending of a movie based on that alone. I’m always impressed by a movie that can stump me and cause me to not be able to predict the ending. That’s probably why I like M. Night Shyamalan movies so much. They always have a twist at the end! I didn't think that The Host had any real twist. What I did find was that it is a good idea to re-read the first few chapters after you’ve gotten to about chapter seven. You will have ingested a great deal of information at that point, and it will help to make it more understandable. I will tell you…things get a little romantic after that! That being said, and knowing most of you won’t re-read those chapters, I’ll give you some tidbits that might help clarify some things:

When they refer to a Soul, these are the ‘aliens’ that have been inserted into human bodies. At the start of the book, there are very few humans left on earth who do not have one of these aliens inserted into their bodies. The few that are left are on the run, scared of the aliens, have watched their fellow humans taken over; they are very much alone. Among the Souls, a Healer is the equivalent of a doctor, a Seeker is roughly like a police officer who is charged with finding leftover humans and giving them a Soul, and a Comforter is like a counselor or therapist. Soul’s have strange names that represent something about how they lived prior to coming to this (human) host body. Wanderer (the main character) was named such because she has lived now on six other planets but has not chosen to stay on any of them after her host body died. At the beginning of the book, she is ‘inserted’ into the body of a woman named Melanie. Melanie is one of the few remaining humans on earth, and is considered by the Souls to be an insurgent. They think she is one of many who are living in hiding and plotting against the Souls. The reason the Souls insert Wanderer into Melanie’s body is to try to glean information from Melanie’s memories, and hope that it will lead them to the insurgency. In reality, Melanie has lived on her own with just her little brother and her boyfriend, and is not part of a larger group. She was caught by the Souls while trying to locate her cousin, who she thinks is still human. In this respect, she is of little help to the Souls. Or is she…

There were several interesting themes to The Host. One of which, the ‘end of civilization’ theme reminds me of The Hunger Games in a way. The way the Souls operate is like collective thinking. It reminds me of how we think of the pre-mortal existence and/or the stories from the Garden of Eden. There is no betrayal or loyalty, the concept had no meaning. Kind of like in the absence of choice there is no good or evil. Everyone is perfectly honest. They don’t pay for things with money; they scan the items just to take ‘inventory.’ They have unity; they’re all working together collectively in perfect harmony toward one goal. However, they are only in harmony with each other, not with humans.

At one point in the book, Wanderer realizes that she is not social, which is not normal among her kind. She ponders that this may be why she has constantly left host planets and gone on to a different planet. She wonders if this planet (earth) has changed her…or revealed her for what she really is.

One quote I really liked was on pages 96-97 “I allowed myself to see the prison that was life without a body. To be carried inside but unable to influence the shape around you. To be trapped. To have no choices.” It reminds me of why we (as human souls) came to earth (to obtain a body), yet what Wanderer is really referring to is how Melanie must feel living inside the body that now belongs to her. Melanie is stuck there and now has no choice what happens to her. Normally a host body does not still contain the ‘spirit’ of the human it once held; it is merely a shell. Wanderer is confused to find that she can communicate with Melanie, and that makes the difference of how she relates to her host body compared to how the rest of her species relates to theirs.

Just when I thought I hated the way The Host changed. It didn't end. It kept going. Several more chapters in fact. I loved the ending, and I can see why Stephanie may someday write a sequel. Did you know that she's considering that? I saw an interview a while back where she mentioned that. She also knows how The Twilight Saga continues. But that's a story for another day...

My favorite M. Night Shyamalan movies:
The Sixth Sense


The Village

If you’ve never read the Twilight series, check out these other Twilight books, music, and movies:

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
The Twilight Saga Complete Collection
The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide
Twilight: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion
The Twilight Saga: New Moon: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion
Twilight Soundtrack
Twilight: the Score
New Moon Soundtrack
New Moon: the Score
Eclipse Soundtrack
Eclipse: the Score
Twilight DVD
The Twilight Saga: New Moon DVD
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

I recently lost 42 pounds on the Take Shape for Life program! Want to check out my weight loss transition? Click here! -Julie L. Spencer