The Host – Stephanie Meyer

A book that I just couldn’t put down. Of course, I have read the Twilight series by the same author but somehow I just didn’t like them at all. What with the clinging heroine and the shining hero and the grey atmosphere all through. Except maybe the werewolf. Anyway, this book would fit comfortably into the ‘supernatural’ genre with the best of them but what sets it apart is the the clever plot and the pace which almost never slackens throughout the novel.

Essentially, this would be Wanderer’s story, an alien life-form who is a parasite. Wanderer’s species have taken over the planet Earth where they attach themselves to the human host, completely wiping out their soul while retaining their memories. As humanity is slowly but surely taken over, there are some whose souls just refuse to become vestigial in their bodies and they force the parasite to give in to them. Unfortunately for Wanderer, the body she is assigned belongs to one such strong individual named Melanie.

An interesting point here is that Wanderer is an academic/intellectual or a professor in Earthly terms which in some ways helps to explain her willingness to help another species rather than her own. After all, we have all seen our environmentalists/intellectuals who would rather save the rampaging monkeys than a farmer’s six months worth of hard labor. In this case, looking at it from the alien’s perspective; we would be the monkeys, though thankfully, the Wanderer is not as callous as us to her own kind, cementing her position as a higher life form.

And so, as Melanie overwhelms the Wanderer with her memories, the kindly soul of the alien has no choice but to follow in search of her host’s family with disastrous consequences for them both.

Reading of the struggles of two souls in one body somehow never feels too far-fetched or unbelievable and neither does the reaction that she receives from the human’s she encounters through Melanie. I am not entirely sure if the author wanted us to sympathize with Melanie or Wanderer but my vote was firmly with the alien. The ending was sweet and just as romantic as I wanted it to be.

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