Book review: The Host – Amber Gowers

The Host is a science-fiction and romance novel written in 2008 by Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight story. The book is set on earth in a time of grave danger and alien race, known as ‘The Souls’, have taken over the planet by implanting themselves into the inhabitants. The story follows a Soul who’s host is not completely dormant and refuses to give up her body.

The main character in the story is a soul called Wanderer, nicknamed Wanda, who is implanted into Melanie Stryder’s body. Wanderer’s name was chosen because of the number of planets she has lived on, never really picking one she truly liked. Later on in the novel, she is nicknamed Wanda by Melanie’s Uncle Jeb. In the start she was only interested in enjoying her new life, Melanie’s love for her brother and boyfriend is passed onto Wanda and she finds herself abandoning the Souls and trying to seek them out in the desert. She slowly develops sympathy for humans, eventually acknowledging that they have a right to their own lives, and attempting to sacrifice herself so that Melanie can have her life back. Wanda’s personality is, like the other Souls, naturally altruistic, horrified by violence and finds it difficult to lie. She hates upsetting people and so suffers endlessly trying to be as little of a burden as possible.

In an interview with Vouge, Meyer stated that body image was a major aspect of her novel. She noted that she is “very critical” of her body, but not others. In The Host, she tried to convey “what a gift it is to just have a body, and really love it”. This is something most humans would take for granted before being captured by the souls, and something of which Melanie is all-too aware once she loses control of her body.

Personally, I think this novel is a great read for anyone who enjoys sci-fi and romance novels. Every page has a page turner feel and it was impossible to put down, I found myself reading way into the night! For anyone who enjoys watching rather than reading, there is also a film of the novel. I would rate this novel a 4.5 out of 5 stars for its fluidity and ability to almost make me cry at the ending, with happiness.

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