Great Reads brings you book reviews on teen books that parents will love from such great young adult authors as Garth Nix, Clare Dunkle, DJ Machale, Stephanie Meyer and many more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Great Reads Reviews:"The Host" by Stephenie Meyer

Even invading aliens have feelings too...

Just kidding- well, in my sarcasm anyway. I seriously loved "The Host." Here's the crux of the plot: Wanderer, a "soul" from another world (or worlds as we later learn) is inserted into the body of Melanie Stryder, a human who nearly committed suicide rather than let herself be taken over by an alien being. But, Melanie's body is saved by an alien Healer, and Wanderer takes over to gain access to Melanie's memories and figure out where there are other humans who need "souls" as well. Melanie's consciousness is supposed to fade into oblivion, but to Wanderer's chagrin, it does not. Instead, Wanderer finds herself in constant inner turmoil as she fights to surpress Mel and take over her body. Wanderer sounds insidious- but in fact, this race of beings feels that what they are doing is saving the human race from themselves. The "souls" are gentle beings who rarely feel strong emotions, never really get angry, or lie, or get violent, and are all sort of connected on subconscious level. By taking over Earth, they've put a stop to all the things that were leading to our self-destruction (but of course, have also destroyed what makes us uniquely human in the process). They honestly (yes- because remember they don't lie) feel that they are helping humanity and don't realize they are destroying what makes us so unique.

As Wanderer and Mel struggle for control, they slowly begin to come to an understanding of each other- mostly through Mel's memories of the man that she loves, Jared, and her brother Jamie that she'd do anything to protect. Wanderer finds herself suddenly and deeply in love for the first time and struggles with other strange new emotions that she's not used to feeling. Mel uses Wanderers new confusion to convince her that she needs to seek out the one place where Jared and Jamie might be hiding- her Uncle Jeb's ranch. Mel's not entirely sure of the way, but they are both willing to try. Wanderer soon finds herself in the midst of the strangest love triangle ever.

Without giving too much away, what's great about this book is that everyone goes through some sort of character change. Wanderer becomes more "human", Mel finds sympathy for creatures that she hates, as do many other non-changed humans. Wanderer (who later becomes Wanda) perhaps changes the most, literally and figuratively, and it's her transformation that's the most interesting. I'll admit that I got a little nervous toward the end, but Meyer didn't disappoint (she hasn't yet!). It's a beautiful book about the pervasiveness of the human spirit and how we can find hope and tolerance even when all looks lost. While this novel is Meyer's first "Adult" novel, I didn't really see any reason why it couldn't be read by most teens. There's no bad language that I recall and no "adult" scenes. In the end, it's really a beautiful story about the power of love to transform just about any one, human or otherwise.

I HIGHLY recommend this as a great read. If you've loved the "Twilight" series, you are sure to enjoy "The Host." You don't need to be a sci-fi fan- as with any great sci-fi story, it's really about being human in a crazy, maybe impossible, situation and how we react to it.

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