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The Host

The Host is the adult (though it is quite appropriate for YA audiences, no worries) sci-fi novel by Stephenie Meyer that has received tons and tons of praise.

And let me just say - deservedly so!!!

First off - a little about The Host: Melanie Stryder is one of the few humans left on Earth that still retains her mind. There has been an invasion by an alien species called "souls" that take over the minds and bodies of the population of the planet. But when Melanie is captured and a soul, Wanderer, is inserted - she proves herself stronger than the average human and still occupies her mind - alongside Wanderer. Thing is, Wanderer might not be an "average" soul anymore than Melanie is the "average" human. Melanie's memories and human emotions seem to meld with Wanderer's until the soul cannot help but have many of the same desperate desires as Melanie - including Jared, the man Melanie loves. The man Wanderer now loves too.

This summary does little to really give the essence of how extraordinary The Host truly is. But I also don't want to give away any more plotlines than that (which is, pretty much, how much is given away in the jacketflap).

Now for my personal experience with The Host: It starts off with a startling, odd, question-raising prologue that successfully intrigued me. Before 25 pages flew by, I was already being pulled hypnotically, magnetically into the story - as Stephenie Meyer's writing does so well (I experienced this same feeling with the Twilight Saga).

The picture of a world no longer human is unsettling - the chilling suspense of survival (seen primarily through Melanie's memories) is riveting. Interaction between Melanie and Wanderer, inside the same mind, is electrifying in its utter bizarreness, yet somehow beautiful in its lyrical and poignant prose.

It isn't long before I actually feel sympathetic for Wanderer, and find myself liking this "alien" - while I also have admiration for Melanie's strength. It seems an impossible feat that only an author as skilled as Meyer can pull off.

The Host is a page-turner in the truest sense of the term. I was hardly aware of time passing by as I was reading it. I would literally open up the book, glance up at the clock, and see two hours had passed by and be completely flabbergasted. Always a good sign as a bibliophile - though this tends to cause an overdose and I tend to spend the hours of the day when I am unable to read rather fuzzy-headed as a result.

Without going on and on (which is easy to do when you love a book as much as I love this one), I have to point out a few more things. The characters are easy to identify with and care about - The Host is painfully heartbreaking, nail-bitingly scary (not in a horror movie sense, more on a human level), introspective, and always, ALWAYS surprising.

There are twists I did NOT see coming. Even the plots that are usually understandably and enjoyably predictable in other novels were astoundingly unpredictable. I found myself almost obsessed with these characters - Stephenie Meyer makes me so attached to these people/beings that it is frustratingly awesome and hand-clenchingly suspenseful. Yeah, The Host is so amazing that I have to make up words to describe how I felt reading it.

I can only heavily, heavily recommend this astonishing, elegant piece of literature to any reader who likes to soak up her book, let it seep in and experience it along with the characters. To those who loved Twilight, to those who didn't, to those who appreciate a powerful, perfect, inspiring, goosebump-inducing, excellent novel - you absolutely HAVE to read The Host.

And as an extra bonus, the new paperback version (which is the one I read) has a great bonus chapter that slides in smoothly with the original story and a great little interview with the fabulous Stephenie Meyer, as well as a playlist she associates with writing The Host.

I am desperately in need of a reread. The Host is, honestly, fantastic!

Check back on July 28th for a special Wednesday post, as Jon and Pamela Voelkel, authors of Middleworld, stop by on their blog tour to answer some questions!

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