On the Cover: 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 thoughts 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 yearns for a man she has been tasked with exposing. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.
Why I Chose It: I saw the trailer for the movie The Host, which recently came out. It looks good, so I thought I would check out the book it was based on!
When I started The Host I was surprised to find that the book is actually from Wanderer’s perspective, as I had been expecting Melanie. I think this was an interesting choice, because I definitely started to sympathize with Wanderer rather than simply see her as an invading alien. It added a nice complexity to the story, as I liked both Melanie and Wanderer, despite the fact that they warred over the same body. Watching the two interact was kind of neat, and I enjoyed their inner conversations with each other while everyone else was oblivious.
However, I didn’t like the descriptions of when Wanderer first takes over Melanie’s body. There’s a lot of time spent describing what it is like to use human senses, and this really frustrated me. I just felt that so much description was unnecessary as I am human (surprise!) and I know what it’s like to use all of these senses. While I understand that Wanderer was an alien and experiencing these senses for the first time, the descriptions weren’t sharing anything new or unique with me, and therefore were just irritating.
The main thing I really troubled over was the pacing of the book. Based on the description of the book I had anticipated that the majority of the story would be the search for Jared. Melanie and Wanderer actually meet up with Jared in less than half the book. I then anticipated some sort of battle for humanity. While I won’t tell you what happened in the last portion of the book, I will tell you that most of the second half was spent in their hideaway, with Wanderer interacting with the other hidden humans. But what troubled me the most was that the book was incredibly slow. Most of the search for Jared was spent wandering around the desert. Then Wanderer sat around inside of a cave and talked with people. The book is 656 pages, and at times it felt like it would never end. While I enjoyed a lot of the content, it seemed to take a very long time to explain everything.
For the most part, however, I did like the love triangle. At first Melanie shares all of her feelings for Jared in an attempt to appeal to Wanderer. This eventually makes Wanderer fall in love with Jared as well. I found this love triangle a little awkward, because Melanie and Jared wanted to be together, but Wanderer is in control of the body – and also has feelings for Jared. Enter Ian. I really liked Ian’s character in comparison with Jared. Granted, Jared has reasons to be angry all the time, but Ian seemed pretty genuine and likeable. He ends up getting feelings for Wanderer, who eventually starts to feel back for him, but can’t act on anything because Melanie is still around and it’s Melanie’s body. So the trio became a quatro and I did like the complexity this added. However, as much as I was trying to avoid comparing this book to Twilight, the interactions between Jared and Ian were at times distinctly of a Edward / Jacob feel, and I could definitely see similarities between the two sets of characters.
So overall, I liked the concepts that were in The Host. There were several parts that were really interesting, like Melanie / Wanderer, or the alien medications that they steal from a hospital. Unfortunately I really did find the book slow and very over descriptive in parts. Still, anyone who likes Twilight will most likely want to check out this book, and I’m definitely interested in seeing how the movie turned out!
Rating: 2 / 5