Yes, The Host. By Stephanie Meyer.
Yes, I’m a serious writer and I’m recommending a Stephenie Meyer book. Just bear with me and let me get on to my argument for why this weird little big story is worth your time.
What it’s about:
The Host begins after the human race has already been taken over by parasitic aliens called souls who colonize worlds in order to “improve” them, making them more peaceful, eliminating money, providing free health care, etc. A soul named Wanderer is put in the body of a girl named Melanie so the aliens can find out if Melanie was part of a larger human resistance.
But Melanie has no intention of vacating to make room for Wanderer. Though she can’t regain control of her body, she fires memories of her loved ones at the soul inside her until Wanderer falls in love with them too. Together, strike out to locate the last stronghold of humanity.
They find a small settlement led by Melanie’s conspiracy theorist uncle Jeb, who was paranoid enough to hide out when things started going downhill. From then on the story becomes a psychological drama as the remaining humans struggle to deal with their new alien roommate.
Why it’s awesome:
The extraordinary thing about The Host is that Meyer seems to have struck upon the perfect situation to expose every facet of human nature, good and bad. Wanderer, later referred to as Wanda, is fundamentally gentle and self-sacrificing, while Melanie (reduced to a voice in Wanda’s head) is passionate and violent. Melanie stirs things in Wanda that, as a peace-loving soul, she shouldn’t feel, while Wanda’s kindness and courage earn her Melanie’s frustration and eventually respect.
What really makes this book a petri dish of humanity is each human’s reaction to the alien presence. Some treat her as an enemy who’ll endanger their small colony. Others warily accept her. Some can’t figure out how to distinguish Wanda’s consciousness from Melanie’s, but others can tell exactly which one is in control.
Wanda slowly learns that the human tendency toward extreme emotions like violence also allows them to feel love more deeply than any other species she’s encountered. The same love for his makeshift family that motivates Ian to try to kill Wanda also drives him to protect her when he realizes that she’s a person too. Doc’s need to heal forces him to commit atrocities against Wanda’s people. Jared’s love for Melanie prompts his hatred for the alien that took her away.
It takes an alien to make the scattered survivors realize what it means to be human. Through Wanda, we see that the ugliness of humanity is tied inextricably with what makes humanity beautiful.
And for those of you who are worried, there’s no creepy pedo-werewolf stuff. The ending is one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever read, mostly because Wanda has to fight tooth and nail every step of the way to get it. She earned her ending, and in every way it’s perfect, poignant and wonderful.
The movie comes out on March 29. I’m already in love with the cast and I can’t wait to see how it comes out.
But mostly I can’t wait to see this pretty boy: