A few years ago I would never have picked up this book. I would have scoffed, perhaps even mimed vomiting at the mention of the name Stephanie Meyer. But I’ve grown up.
The Host is genuinely brilliant, and I completely loved it. I can’t believe I’m only reading it now, but I was a stubborn eleven year old, and I refused to give it a chance. I was a stupid eleven year old.
The Host follows Wanderer (Wanda) – A Soul.
Souls are a species which inhabit the bodies of humans (or other species on other planets). They’re not evil, they inhabit the bodies to help the world, but in doing so they wipe out their host species.
But not completely.
On Earth, there are humans who have managed to remain free of inhabitation by the Souls. They’re very much in the minority, and there’s only a few of them left, but they’re definitely present. And when Wanda inhabits one of the remaining humans, Melanie, she isn’t prepared for the fight Melanie puts up, a fight that Melanie might just win. Melanie tries to overpower Wanda’s presence in her mind, to get back to her brother Jamie, and Jared, her, for want of a better word, boyfriend or lover. She has vague directions in her head to the home of a group of surviving humans. But if she gets there will she be accepted? Will the humans even believe that Melanie is still alive inside of Wanda? And what if they start to like Wanda? What happens then?
It sounds good, but not brilliant. But it is brilliant. The thing about The Host is that you think you’d be rooting for Melanie – her being the human, and probably the more relatable of the two. But you don’t. You end up wanting Wanda to get her way, but at the same time wanting Melanie to be ok. And that’s really not a good place to be, at least not with what they have to go through in the course of the novel. You get very attached to both Wanda and Melanie, even if you set out not wanting to.
The hard part of reading is that you get to see both sides of the story. You would obviously go into the novel taking the human’s side, wanting rid of the souls, and to get the planet, and those you know and love back. But then you see in all from Wanda’s perspective, and you see what kind beings the Souls are, and how they really are here only to help, and if you don’t end up extremely conflicted, I genuinely don’t know what sort of person you are.
It is quite a long book, over 600 pages, and the start is a little slow, but it does pick up a lot, and apart from the beginning there’s never really a dull moment.
The characters are very well written, the fact that there’s no clear choice, or clear winner, or whatever you want to call it, in any of the situations that arise, is a tribute to how three-dimensional the characters all are. Even the characters that I thought I hated (of which there were two) ended up having a lot more to them than what I first thought.
Overall The Host genuinely moved me, it was absolutely brilliant. I strongly recommend it, and even if you’re not sure, even if you’ve read the terrible blurb and decided it wouldn’t be a good read, give it a go, you might be surprised – I know I was. So much so that I’m giving the Host 4.5 stars out of 5.