The Host: Review and Book Club Recap

Review

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

From Little, Brown and Company:

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown and Company) is an amazing book that questions what it is to be human. I cannot recall a book that addresses overcoming prejudice as well as this one. The souls took over earth to make it better, more peaceful, but in doing so they are also destroying. Only by living with humans does Wanderer (or Wanda as she is later known) learn just how wrong the souls were about our little planet, but the humans also begin to see how wrong they were about the souls.

This book is a beautiful tribute to the power of compassion and, most importantly, to the power of love. As a newcomer to earth who is unfamiliar with the strength of human emotions, Wanda’s  experiences cut sharply into the heart. It is a painful pleasure to look at the world through her fresh eyes and feel as she feels.

One of the biggest points of contention I hear about this books is about the humans beating Wanda and her still loving them. I have less of a problem with this. I am not saying I condone the beatings (I don’t!) but I do understand the characters’ reasonings. I understand the fear the humans are feeling, the hatred Jared feels for this creature that took the love of his life, and the conflicting emotions as Wanda tries and fails to separate her feelings from those of Melanie and the body she inhabits. Emotions run high in this book and I understand them. They are fitting given the extreme circumstances; I can’t fault a book because characters make immoral decisions, when those decisions fit those characters. I want the characters in the books I read to feel real, and this book achieved that.

I read this book years ago when it first came out and I fell in love with the story, the characters, and the voice of Wanderer. Even on my recent second read through, this book still managed to leave tear streaks down my cheeks. Sure, this monolithic 600-plus-page book might be a bit longer than it needs to be, but I loved every page. It’s compelling, thought-provoking, and wonderfully, heart-breakingly emotional. I highly recommend! Your plucked heart-strings will thank-you.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5 hearts)

Book Club Recap

Last week I attended a book club at my local Chapters where we discussed The Host. There were three of us there for discussion and it was unanimous: we love The Host! Over hot chocolate and timbits we talked about the characters, the conflict between souls and humans, and the upcoming movie.

While our love for The Host may have been unanimous, choosing a favourite between Wanda and Melanie was a point of debate. One clubber loved Wanda best, one said they couldn’t possibly separate the two, and I was totally indecisive and gave a politician’s answer: I love Wanda’s heart but I love Melanie’s attitude—I love them both.

It was fun hypothesizing about what would happen beyond the story: would humans and aliens co-exist or would one race become extinct? I think we ended up coming to the conclusion that the souls’ numbers would begin to dwindle until some kind of balance is reached, but it would take a long, long time for that to happen.

We also agreed Ian saying “I held you in my hand, Wanderer, and you were beautiful” is one of the sexiest things ever! Judge us all you want, but it’s true.

Then we chose the what book to read for next month’s meeting and I am excited to report that the club with be discussing John Green’s tear-jerker The Fault in Our Stars!  Can’t wait!

The Chapters Book Club’s next meeting is Thursday, March 28th at 7:00PM at the Guelph Chapters in Stone Road Mall. The club is hosted by @CahleyErin. All are welcome.

UPDATE: Don’t forget to check out my “Popcorn and a Book” comparison between the book and film here.

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3 thoughts on “The Host: Review and Book Club Recap

  1. First and foremost, thank you for writing about the Chapters Guelph Book Club! And I have already finished “The Fault in Our Stars” and enjoyed it immensely!

    I also think that “The Host” is a great book! I definitely had my reservations due to the hype with Twilight, but Stephenie Meyer exceeded my expectations and had my emotions on a roller-coaster for 600+ pages. I only have two criticisms about the book: it took me about 80 pages to feel invested and interested and I was not a fan of Wanderer’s name being shortened to Wanda. I don’t think that that name did the character justice.

    It’s funny because during book club, we discussed the inevitable Team Jared or Team Ian and to be completely honest, I couldn’t decide between the two if given the choice. This makes sense because I was the individual that couldn’t separate Wanda and Melanie. I almost feel as though Wanda and Melanie should remain together as one and then share Ian and Jared. While reading, I felt the struggle that Wanda had trying to separate her feelings for Ian and Jared especially when Jared started to have a stronger connection with her.

    Stephenie Meyer did a fantastic job creating characters that readers can personalize with. While reading, I kept imaging Souls invading my reality and the type of person that I would become. Ironically though, I found myself battling with who I would root for. Obviously in the beginning, I felt that it was completely barbaric to take over a human’s mind and use their body but then you start to realize why Souls came to Earth… because humans were not respecting the wonderful world they lived in. Souls created an ideal living situation and my hope for the future (even though I don’t want there to be a sequel) is that Souls and humans can coexist…somehow.

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Dynamic Duos | Bookish Notions

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