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The Host by Stephenie Meyer | Book Review

This is the only book written by Ms. Meyer so far that is not part of the Twilight saga and has been partly eclipsed in the glory of the Twilight saga. But, this is an enjoyable and entertaining book worth reading. Once again, Ms. Meyer presents us with characters which are not “human” but still experience all the humane feelings with acuteness.

For centuries, mankind has been trying to resolve the mysteries of its own existence. By trying to differentiate between visible and hidden, by matter and mind, by body and soul, we have been continuously looking for the guiding intelligence or divine force or the ruling conscience in the package deal that we call “a human”. It has always been clear to us that there definitely is something beyond the body, and many a times we are torn between the needs and desires of this body and the ruling of the conscience, when they are not in harmony. In religious aspects, we call it a ”soul”, in daily matters, we call it “an intelligence” and in issues pertaining to morality, we call it “conscience”. But even after the efforts of the millennias by every civilisation that breathed upon this earth, at best we can describe this subject as enigmatic. We have as many a questions, as many answers we have found.

The second fascination for entire mankind has been to find out whether we are alone in this universe? In fiction, we have always created characters that belong to some other unknown world, which we can catch only a glimpse of every now and then, with Para-human powers but humane feelings and desires. For last couple of centuries, we have been trying to find aliens belonging to some other planet and there are number of incidents when people claim they have seen UFOs. A great number of our most entertaining movies also belong to this genre e.g., Avatar, ET, Koi Mil Gaya, etc.

In this story, The Host, Ms. Meyer has combined the above two factors to create a species, that calls themselves “souls” belonging to a planet called “The Origin”. These are tiny, silvery creatures with a capability to live inside any other body when inserted by taking control over the mind of that body, erasing the existing mind in that particular body in process. The receiving body is called “The Host” for the parasitic soul. Souls have invaded far and large in the universe and spread over no. of planets that are hundreds of light years apart, every planet supporting different species of creatures and entirely different forms of living environment.

And now they have invaded our Earth as well. Only a few humans remain who are aware of the invasion and are resisting. Melanie Stryder is one of them. The story starts when she is captured and a soul called “Wanderer” is inserted inside her. The soul police called “Seeker” wants the information about the rebels, but when the Wanderer is trying to access the mind of Malanie, for the first time she finds it difficult, Melanie is still very much there and is resisting the soul inside her body. This is extraordinary. The struggle between the two minds within Mel’s body continues and slowly through her memories of the past, the wanderer experiences her love for her brother Jamie and her boyfriend Jared.

This is nothing like the Wanderer has experienced anywhere else in the Universe during her past eight lives. Overwhelmed by these emotions, she also starts loving Mel’s family and they (Melanie and Wanderer, both in Melanie’s body) end up in the desert looking for them, almost killing themselves. And they are found by those for whom they are looking, but it is not a happy family reunion. The Wanderer finds herself surrounded by humans who loath her and are intent upon murdering the “parasite” that she is to them.

And this is when the story takes us through the feelings and experiences of an alien who is longing for acceptance and love by humans, who can’t understand and deal with violence, who is as full of compassion and kindness as any human being would be. As the story proceeds we also learn to love her, be happy when she slowly earns acceptance, compassion, love and trust, in that order, of all the humans around her. But when she finds that she finally belongs to the place and is with the first family she ever found, she also realises that she can not live with them forever. That she must give Melanie back, what is rightfully hers.

And so she decides to leave Melanie’s body, but not for a new life on any other planet, she would be buried here, on earth, her home. But is this acceptable to the humans? Are they willing to let her go? Will the man called Ian who loves her, will let the soul go and continue to love the body she had inhabited? Doesn’t she have a right to live amongst her loved ones and find peace and happiness on this earth?

This vividly emotional tell is a must read to open your mind a little bit further and look beyond the normalcy and routine of your life. It so often happens that we just hate strangers for the only reason of not knowing them enough. We forget that each of us has a capacity to love and it only takes some time and space to learn to love those around us.

And of course, being a story of an alien, there are space shuttles and laboratories and fascinating creatures combined with a little action here and there. So, Enjoy Reading….

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