Lost In The Host

I lost myself in The Host by Stephanie Meyer for my first real summer read, and I rejoice to have finally finished it. Contradictions? Yes, the whole book conflicted me.

Last summer I spent a few days camped in my hammock with the Twilight series (Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse). I’d heard a buzz that I had to read them. The youthful adventure and romance provided an easy escape from my serious nature and a possible bridge between my teenage daughter and me.

But you know there’s more to them than that, don’t you? Sure, author Stephanie Meyer writes a captivating story with a plot that carries a reader through its pages, wanting more. But her words are not shallow or hollow; behind the surface story lie powerful issues.

The complexities of love, marriage, and mortality are intertwined with the emotions of human sexuality in Bella’s and Edward’s relationship. Look for them. These characters are not only posing questions for each other but causing us to examine our current culture’s attitudes about sexual love and ask ourselves the same ones.

My daughter threw me into Meyer’s new adult novel, The Host, when she requested it from the library. Since she is only 14, I required that I read it first. Apparently the large-print edition didn’t have as many holds on it, so what we picked it up at the library last week was a 1144 page book that was bigger than a Bible. I didn’t have three days to devote to hammock reading, so I lugged this paperback with me to swim lessons, to exercise at the Y, from upstairs to downstairs and back, and into the late hours of light Minnesota summer nights. Since my vision adjusted to the 14-point type and I couldn’t read anything smaller, I had to set aside all my other reading until I finished.

I discovered three things when I was lost in this author’s latest novel:

First, The Host is definitely an adult novel. It is not overly sexual or violent or over the head for a youngish teenager. But the subject matter and ideas are more advanced than Twilight‘s young adult audience. I told my daughter that she could read it, but that it will not be what she came to expect from the others.

Second, the depth of ideas is exactly what I was looking for, and she met those expectations. The Host is the story of a soul, Wanderer, from another planet who inhabits a human body. During her assimilation into her human host and Earth life, ethical challenges hit her hard when she realizes that Melanie, her host, still resides within the body. The plot moves along quickly when her choices pit her against her own. In an unexpected community Wanderer discovers love and hate and that both bring large variations and important choices.

Finally, here’s the conflict—I don’t like science fiction. The first few chapters of Twilight were not overtly weird. I genuinely liked the characters and the setting before I realized the book was about vampires and werewolves. In The Host, however, the first few chapters were clearly science fiction and quite confusing to me. I almost gave up reading it several times. I’m not a fan of this genre and was glad when the story moved closer to a form I could relate to.

Overall, it’s a worthy summer read that can be purely entertaining or just keep Meyer fans satisfied until Breaking Dawn is released on August 2, 2008. But honestly, like Meyer’s other novels, hidden behind the hype is a whole lot more.

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3 Comments

  1. Rachel Corbett
    Jul 14, 2008

    I couldn’t read this whole post. I was too worried about a spoiler! I still have to read the Host and can’t wait for Breaking Dawn!

  2. TJ
    Jul 14, 2008

    It’s spoiler-free!

  3. Rebecca
    Jul 14, 2008

    I’m so late to the game, I haven’t read any of her books! I really want to see what all the hype is about though. One of these days…

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