Harvin found a great link for me this morning, to an online book discussion group of sorts, in which users can write blog posts, provide a link on the website, and read what others have to say. January’s book? Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. 🙂 One of my favorites!
First, if you’ve never read this book, you can find a decent plot synopsis here. When I’ve found myself describing this book, I generally launch into a summary that takes about 30 minutes, as I find it difficult to overlook any major details, and this is quite a complicated novel.
Anyway…onto the discussion. SPOILER ALERT: I’ll be discussing the ending of the novel. If you haven’t read it and don’t want to know what happens at the end, stop reading.
I read the Twilight series first (including Breaking Dawn). I read The Host for the first time in September, I believe. And re-read it in November. It’s that good. But it is very different from Twilight, and I can understand how some hardcore fans of Twilight may not enjoy The Host. This book is written for an adult audience (although I think mature teenagers could appreciate it). It isn’t that the book is graphic or contains too much adult content; it’s just that the content is heavier. It’s not an angsty teenager falling in love with a perfect boy/vampire. Meyer presents the idea of our civilization as we know it ending, of fighting to survive and hold onto some semblance of reality, of the real meaning of love. With this book, I think Meyer has proven her ability to be more than just a young adult writer.
One major strength of this novel is the way Meyer builds her character. Bella in Twilight annoyed me; she was too angsty, too emotional, too wrapped up in Edward (which is perhaps reality for some teenagers, but not something that needs to be promoted, in my opinion). In The Host, the main character is actually two: Wanderer (or Wanda), the host invading the human body; and Melanie, the human who just won’t let the soul take over. Wanda and Mel are as different as night and day: Mel is strong, persistent, courageous, all those good traits needed to fight to surive. Wanda is gentle, self-sacrificing, and kind, all good traits needed to be a soul, since their goal is to create a peaceful civilization. Wanda and Mel contradict each other in many ways, but that works, as all their strengths can work together to ensure their survival. I love Mel’s spunk, and I love Wanda’s ability to love.
As for the ending of the novel, I found it superb. I cried the first time I read it. (And teared up a little the second time.) In the end, Wanda knows she must be removed from Mel’s body in order for Mel to have her life back, including being with the man she loves, Jared. Wanda is also in love, however, with a man named Ian; while she wants to be with him, she cannot stand the thought of taking over another body, of destroying another life. She convinces the doctor in the compoud where they’re hiding to let her die and bury her on Earth. However, he goes back on his promise, and they find a host body where the original human can no longer be found. In the end, Melanie gets her body (and Jared) back, and Wanda gets a new body (without harming another human), and gets to stay on Earth and be with Ian.
As far as overall theme in the book, I walked away from reading it, hoping that one day, I could love like Wanda and Mel do. The two of them have deep, self-sacrificing love for their family. They fight hard for the people they love. They fight for what is right. This kind of love isn’t the overwhelming, passionate love of Edward and Bella (which is nice, but not always so realistic). Instead, this is the kind of all-encompassing love of a woman for her brother; for the kind, old gentleman dying of cancer; for the man she loves. It’s kind of hard to explain the difference to someone who has never read both books, but there is a definite difference, and in my opinion, The Host is far superior to Twilight (although I love that book, too). 🙂
On a side note, I have a playlist for The Host. It’s very exciting. I had actually just begun listening to it this morning when Harvin sent me the link. In case you’re interested, here is the album I would create if I were making the soundtrack for the book (with links to YouTube videos, ’cause I’m cool that way):
1. “Wandering Star” – Portishead
2. “Soul Meets Body” – Death Cab for Cutie
3. “Lonely Soul” – UNKLE
4. “Knights of Cydonia” – Muse [I think there are actually very few playlists where I couldn’t make this song work. :)]
5. “When I’m Gone” – 3 Doors Down
6. “Drops of Jupiter” – Train
8. “Your Hand in Mine” – Explosions in the Sky
9. “Iris” – Goo Goo Dolls
10. “Perfect Stranger” – Civil Twilight (sadly, there are no good videos for this)
11. “Angel” – Massive Attack
12. “This is Home” – Switchfoot (I know, I know, this was written for Prince Caspian…but it totally works…and I’m pretty much incapable of creating a playlist that doesn’t contain at least one Switchfoot song!)