As with the Twilight books, healthy relationships are either disparaged or absent, the characters are whiny and self-centered, and the plot holes are large enough to fly an Airbus Beluga through. However, in this book we are also treated to the additional WTF moments brought on by the fact that several of our would-be sympathetic characters are murderous brain-stealing alien pacifists who expect us to be glad about their genocidal rampage across the galaxy because things are so peaceful once they've essentially wiped out the other alien species on the planets they take over.
What Vaguely Resembles a PlotEdit
The Host is set in a future world where a race of
brain-stealing alien centipedes souls has taken over earth and infested fixed all but a few humans. These humans occupy their time with gardening and playing soccer, while the Aliens continue human society exactly as it was when they arrived while congratulating themselves smugly on how much they've improved things. A few "Souls" actually engage in useful activities like hunting down surviving humans, but this is frowned upon, presumably because it might actually move the damn story along.
After a bit, the remnant of Melanie which miraculously survived gets bored of history class, and decides to betray her family to the aliens who are hunting them. She hands over the location of their secret hideout, which Wanderer then betrays her species by not reporting (after all, if you're going to be genocidal aliens, you should at least do it right.) She is found, and identified as an alien parasite, at which point the logical response would be to kill her. Since Meyer is incapable of writing protagonists who make sense, they bring her into the group and thus begins a cheesy love triangle between Melanie's abusive pre-infestation squeeze, Jared, Melanie/Wanderer, and a third guy called Ian (who is also occasionally abusive. And an idiot. And a crappy brother.) At one point one of the humans, Kyle, develops enough common sense to fill a teacup, and attempts to kill Wanderer on the grounds that she came uninvited to his home planet, supported the for-all-practical-purposes-murder of everyone he knew, and possessed his former friend. He is, naturally, immediately vilified and despised by all the "good" characters, especially his brother Ian, who wants him killed. Fortunately he is reformed when his girlfriend turns out to be really dead, and he replaces her with the soul that killed her.
Eventually the one soul who had been doing something besides pat herself on the back (this being The Seeker, see below) is caught by the humans. Wanderer decides to tell them how to remove the souls without killing either party. Her first condition for this is that the souls be sent on to other planets unharmed, which shows that if she learned any moral lessons on earth, she's incapable of generalizing from there to the conclusion that maybe other sapient species deserve freedom too. The Seeker is the first to be shipped off. Her second condition is that she be removed from Melanie and buried because she doesn't want to be a parasite any longer, which is supposed to show that she's grown and is all self-sacrificing now, except that the little order about shipping the
murdering parasites souls off unharmed, and the fact that, as usual, Meyer cannot stand to sacrifice a viewpoint character. Instead of dying, a conveniently personality-less, cute, young, female body becomes available, and Wanderer is instead placed there so she and Ian can have their happy ending
Based on quotes like:
- "It's a voluntary choice." and,
- "Gosh darn it! Can't anybody here keep a secret for more than 24 hours?" Jeb exclaimed. "Gol' durn, this burns me up!"
It won the 2009 Golden Delete Key Award.
SoulsEditIn much the way Sparklepires are vampires with more glitter and less scary, the souls are yeerks with more glitter and less logic. They control your brain via your spinal cord, require surgical implantation, and make your eyes shimmery because Meyer has an eye fetish. They are described as "all things good", "peaceful" and "compassionate." They take over an intelligent host (it seems to be limited to sapients only), completely suppressing the host's mind and personality, and remain in the host permanently if possible, with any hosts who do have to be abandoned being casually killed. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the host is dead either way, and the "perfect, good, compassionate, peaceful, loving" aliens, having done this to entire species on a multitude of worlds, are guilty of multiple genocides.
Wanderer - The soul
placed in Melanie's neck to gain access to her memories. She is known for having lived on a bunch of planets, and is, like most souls, very stuck up. Other than that she has no distinguishing characteristics.
The Seeker - A "violent", "antisocial" sort who has been on earth since the early days of the invasion and thus has a clue what she's talking about when she talks about humans and fighting them. Logically, she is ignored and interfered with at every turn by the souls she's protecting. She is the antagonist, and therefore is also loaded down with every negative attribute Meyer can think of, but nevertheless comes across as mildly intelligent, if in an anti-human sort of way.
Fords Deep Waters - A "Healer" with a ridiculous name who appears to info-dump for us in the preface and then becomes irrelevant. He is a "compassionate doctor"; a Carlisle Cullen clone ("ripoff" would imply a superior source material).
Humans apparently used to be pretty badass, giving the souls one of the fiercest fights they had ever had (not counting the suicide plants. Now that's hardcore.) They have mellowed since then, however, and have taken to handing out "secret" hideout locations like candy and inviting souls over to tea when the weather is nice. Any self-preservation they had to begin with must have been stored in Melanie's neck, and it escaped during the implantation. At this point, all but one are functioning at the level of the average potato.
Stephanie Meyer Bella Swan Melanie Stryder – A whiny human girl who Meyer thinks is "The strongest person you will ever meet, both mentally and physically." She is physically average, and her willpower bears a startling resemblance to overcooked asparagus. She is the "host" referenced in the title, and her contributions mostly consist of fantasizing about the men in her life in hopes that Wanderer will take her to them, and with no consideration for the possibility that Wanderer might just hand them over to the Seeker. Her name has nothing to do with Stephenie Meyer's at all, it's a total coincidence, really (sarcasm hand raised). Melanie's Twu Wuv is Jared. Trigger warning: Their meeting reads a bit like a graphic rape scene.
Edw ard Cullen Jared Howe – Jared is Melanie's abusive boyfriend. He starts off their relationship in a promising manner: With death threats and sexual assault. Losing his victim the love of his life makes him understandably bitter, and he is sulky through much of the book, occasionally going so far as to actually be mean to the perfect creature who killed his girlfriend. However, he too comes to love perfect little Wanderer eventually. He takes care of Jamie in Melanie's absence. His hair is the same colour as his skin, and his eyes are "liquid sienna." Enough with the liquid, Meyer. We don't know what "liquid sienna" or "liquid topaz" are.
Jamie Stryder – Jamie is Melanie's younger brother and is 14 years old when Wanderer arrives at the "secret" hideout. He clicks with her right away because he's all open-minded like that. He mostly just exists to give Melanie someone to go all protective over.
Uncle Jeb – Melanie's eccentric uncle who built the hideout because he was the paranoid type who assumes alien invasion when his neighbours start acting funny. However his paranoia goes out the window when Wanderer arrives, and he decides that souls aren't so bad after all. Since he built the hideout and polices his fellow "rebels" with firearms, he can actually enforce this.
Doc – Some guy with some kind of medical experience, who obviously, serves as the group's medic. Curious about souls, he had attempted previously to remove one, without success. Eventually Wanderer tells him how, and he proceeds to take her out and give her a brand new body, so that Smeyer can have her little happily ever after. Possible alcoholic.
Ian O'Shea – Wanderer's love interest. He dislikes souls until she shows up, at which point he changes his stripes and becomes her biggest fan, to the point of wanting his own brother dead for acting against her. He sees Jared as a rival for Melanie/Wanderer until the Deus Ex Machina ending gives his little love her very own body.
Kyle O'Shea – Kyle is Ian's brother, and the only human who actually manages to hold on to his distrust of Wanderer for more than a few chapters. His girlfriend was implanted with a soul and when he tried to rescue her by removing the soul they discovered that she was one of the ones who had been permanently destroyed by being used as a "host." He puts the soul who had occupied her body back and continues as if nothing had happened, which is supremely illogical, and totally Stephenie Meyer.
That's right folks. It has been announced that The Host has become a movie, released in March of 2013. Sadly, though, it's the last film to be reviewed by Roger Ebert, who died the following month. He said "[this movie] is top-heavy with profound, sonorous conversations, all tending to sound like farewells. The movie is so consistently pitched at the same note, indeed, that the structure robs it of possibilities for dramatic tension", and gave it 2.5 out of 4.
Fun Facts Edit
- This wiki article is written on a higher level (9.2) than The Host, which is written on a fourth grade reading level. 
- There are a chagrining 7 chagrins in The Host, making this the most chagrined of all Meyer's works that isn't Twilight.