The Host

The Host - Stephenie Meyer It's tough for me to review this book, because it's so not my usual read. But it's good to get outside one's comfort zone from time to time. I'm not a Stephenie Meyer fan - I never read the Twilight series. (Gasp! I know...) But my best friend has been bugging me to read this book for over a year now, and when she put it up as the group book read, I finally gave in.It took me quite awhile to get into this book, because it was all so foreign to me. My logical mind wanted to ask tons of questions: How did the aliens get to Earth? When did all this start? How did humans react to being "invaded" by the aliens. What is the motivation of the aliens - why are they taking on human hosts? And more...My logical mind wanted answers. I wanted to understand the time frame, the events, what the state of the world was like when the book opens - even from the alien point of view. The author isn't forthcoming about answering such questions; she pushes forward with her story, concentrating on the alien Wanderer and her new human host Melanie. I wanted to know more about the resistance... I wanted to know what Seekers were... what the distinctions between alien callings really was. How did all of this work? My brain stubbornly held on to trying to make sense of it all as I read.But this isn't a book of logic - not as we know it. It isn't a book of sense. It's the story of Wanderer and Melanie, and a group of rebel humans who've managed to stay hidden and avoid becoming hosts. It's about prejudice and perception. It's about what makes one "human" - is it biological? Emotional? Social? Words? Actions? And it's all wrapped up in relationships: the host Melanie's relationships with her brother Jamie, her lover Jared, her uncle Jeb, her aunt Maggie, her cousin Sharon, and by extension the rebels. It's about how they react to Wanderer, whom Jeb starts calling Wanda. Is Wanderer/Wanda an "it" or a "her"? Because to assign the "her" pronoun makes Wanda more tangible - not just an invader, an individual.The individual versus society (the group) is another big theme. What gives one group the right to decide what happens to another? And if you start to look at the individuals within the group, what happens to your ideas about the group as a whole? Because the aliens are kind, gentle, loving to one another does that give them the right to invade and take over human hosts, essentially erasing the human's mind and control? Does it give humans the right to destroy the aliens to take back their humanity?There's a lot of complexity wrapped up in this book that seems deceptively simple. But as one continues to read, the reader realizes along with the characters that nothing is as simple as it seems.My biggest beef with the book when I finished reading it is that it's supposed to be an adult book, not a YA book. To me, "adult" doesn't have to mean explicit sex or language or violence; but I would have appreciated more than just kisses and hugs... there's a lot implied, and yet nothing stated. I understand authors who chose to keep their books rated PG, and I've nothing against that. But I find it tough to label this book as anything other YA. (Again, not a bad thing, just a distinction - maybe one that doesn't really matter.) Personally, I would have liked to know that Jared and Melanie truly been lovers before all of this happened - not just that Melanie implies it or flashes ambiguous memories and images to Wanda. Why? Because it's reality; and reality is neither amoral nor moral, it just is. Since the author implies so much, it's not much of a stretch to just state what everyone knows, even if there are no real "sex scenes" to speak of. OK, small soap box issue that belongs to me alone.Perhaps my only other "nit" is the neatly wrapped ending... but I can't say that I'm sorry for it. I was shedding buckets of tears, so I had to stop and cry, then read. Stop and cry, then read.In retrospect, it's quite a remarkable book, once you get past the "strangeness" and "futuristic-ness" of it all. And I'm amazed to say that!