Monday, May 12, 2008

The Host (novel)Image via WikipediaI stayed up past my bedtime finishing this engrossing novel by Stephenie Meyer, author of the acclaimed "Twilight" YA books. The Host is published as her first "adult" as opposed to YA novel, but there's nothing especially adult about it except the age of the protagonists.

The story is a riff on the SF classics "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "The Puppetmasters", but told from the alien invaders' POV: Why would humanity object to having their bodies taken over by aliens, when the aliens are peaceful, and non-violent and loving? The "souls", as they term themselves, don't understand it, until one "soul", Wanderer, finds itself sharing a body with its host, Melanie--something that's not supposed to happen. Melanie's thoughts and fears and dreams intrude into Wanderer's life until the "soul" decides to do something about it.

From a SF POV the worldbuilding raised some interesting questions that a more SF oriented author might have felt the need to explore: If you take away competitiveness, will humanity cease to learn and grow? Are there "souls" willing to do the scut work that's necessary to keep things going, like picking vegetables and shoveling manure? But Meyer, perhaps wisely, ignores these issues for the greater question of "What does it mean to be human? Why do we love? Do violent emotions help or hinder development?"

It's a good, thick read and a great way to kick off summer vacation reading--escapism that makes you think.

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