Rated Reads

The Host

by Stephenie Meyer

Rated: Mild

Stephenie Meyer has said in interviews that she’s not as much a “writer” as she is a “storyteller.” And what a talented storyteller she is! She can spin a yarn that will tangle up its reader until it finally unwinds on the very last page. Once I’ve started, I cannot put down any of her books (to the chagrin of my family members).

The Host is her first “adult” novel. Sadly, Edward and Bella are absent (admit it, Twilight fans: it’s all about them). And it’s almost impossible not to lament their absence for a little while. But then the characters in The Host slowly become compelling, too, and you’re hooked, though not as much as with E and B.

Here’s the setup: an alien race has taken over Earth, inserting their small, centipede-like bodies into the back of human necks and taking over their hosts. Most humans have been taken over, except for a few rebels. One, Melanie, is finally caught, and an alien inserted into her. “Wanderer” is at first frustrated when Melanie lives on in her head, not ceding her consciousness. But as time goes on, the two become allies, even friends, as they set off in search of the man Melanie loves among the rebel humans.

Alien-invasion stories have been told plenty of times. And the theme of how humans can have the best and the worst of emotions, actions and impulses has been played out time and time again as well. But Meyer takes these themes and uses them to great effect for a new story that is just as human and moving as ever. For while she writes about vampires and aliens, she is still chronicling the crazy, deep, all-over-the-place emotions that humans so naturally experience, for good or bad.

And still, while The Host isn’t Twilight, this alien story has its advantages. One, Meyer can really let loose with a few fun, imaginative stories — Wanderer tells the humans some good ones about other planets on which she’s lived. Second, The Host is nicely tidied up at the end — a welcome change to having to wait for more books somewhere down the line to provide a satisfying conclusion.

Rated: Mild, for about ten to fifteen uses of mild to mild/moderate language. Violence is really minimal, as are references to sex.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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Clean book review The Host