Saturday, June 21

The Host (book)

I just finished reading The Host by Stephanie Meyers. She's a nice Mormon women who wrote her first three books about a vampire and his human girlfriend. As a total sci-fi geek, I loved her Twilight books and was excited when I found out her first 'adult' novel was coming out this summer.

Normally I wouldn't include just a classic sci-fi book, because they are not all disaster related. This book, however, fits in perfectly! Without giving away all of the juicy details, it's kind of like a grown up version of Animorphs, without the weird teenagers who can change into different animals. I know that doesn't make much sense, but both books are set in the US where an alien species has taken over by using human beings as hosts. Unlike Animorphs, Meyers' book creates a much more interesting host/invader dynamic. The invaders are a parasitic species that survives by implanting themselves in the heads of human beings and taking over full neural and emotional control. They retain the memories of the person, but they are their own new entity. The parasitic species call themselves souls, and see themselves as the saviours of humanity because they are peaceful and community minded. When they take over the earth, they stop all violence and create a world that is harmonious. There are a handful of survivors (parasite free humans) who see this invasion as nothing less than full scale genocide and go underground to escape detection and annihilation. I decided this book fell under the disaster related category because there is plenty of paranoia inducing situations and lots of hiding and living totally off the grid. One of the main characters (Jeb) states at one point that he knew that something hinky was going on in the world when all of the convicts and pedophiles started turning themselves in to authorities. Think of the crazy gun guy (married to Reba!) in Tremors, and you kind of get an image of Jeb. He already had shelters ready for some type of apocalypse, and when the invasion kicked into high gear he fled with a small group of friends and family members. After reading about his (I know it's fictional!) set-up, I had a sudden urge to learn more about hydroponics, and living underground. While I might start doing a little research into using mirrors as a light source, I'm otherwise going to try and keep my slightly nutty interest at bay.

The book gets really interesting when a soul is put into the body of a girl named Melanie, and finds herself unable to totally overpower the original host. Melanie remains a force in her head, and all sorts of complications ensue. Although the book ultimately gets a little sappy--both the soul and the host are in love with the same man--I thought Meyers' managed to convey some interesting things about humanity and relationships.

Ultimately, I think she took the easy way out in the book. When both Wanda (the soul) and Melanie (the host) fall in love with different men Meyers' could have used this story as a discourse on human sexuality. Without being graphic or inappropriate, she could have chosen to have her characters involve themselves in a complicated intersecting relationship. It's her book and she wanted to make it neater and easier than that.. but it would have been interesting!

ps. this post is entitled The Host (book) because I also requested The Host (the movie!) from blockbuster. I'm sure there will be a similar post coming soon..