fredag 12 februari 2010

(review) Stephanie Meyer: "The Host"

After finally getting my hands on the book (thank you Turku library!) I was so happy to find that, once again, Stephenie is the queen of the first person narrative. I think that's what has made the "Twilight"-series so popular: the fact that the text just sweeps you along, and you feel as if you're experiencing exactly what the person on the page is actually feeling. I find it riveting, although at times slightly alarming, that the power of the written word can be so strong. I think it's a great book, but I can understand if some might find the story a little slow in the beginning. Persevere though, and there is much in the book that will both give you pause

This is one book I absolutely have to get as a hardback-copy for my own library. Especially with the lovely weird cover from the publisher Little, Brown and Company, who've also published Stephenie's Twilight books. The "thing " about the cover picture and how the "eye" glimmers around the cornea, that comes from the way you can "see" how a person has a alien 'soul' latched onto their brains.

Anyway, for those of you NOT familiar with Stephenie Meyer, writer of the "phenomena" that is Twilight, should educate themselves on e.g. Wikipedia. Although how you've managed to remain ignorant (with the movies and all) is truly beyond me.

The Host is proof that she has the potential to write something even more riveting in the future. I really wish - along with many more readers, I guess - that Stephenie will continue the book and create the trilogy that she wants it to become (you can find more about that on her own web page). I would like to read more about how (and if) more of the aliens manage to adapt themselves to being human. Going native, so to speak.

Since Wikipedia is kind enough to provide a good review on how the story in the book, I won't repeat any of that here.
I'll just write about something that struck me while reading it. The duality of soul vs. body. That we humans regard these as two separate entities, and even go so far as to say that the thing that is the "we" consists of the body + the mind + the soul. The body is the vessel for both the mind and the soul, and while only the mind is the cognitive entity, we nevertheless have this soul that is (at least in some cultures) eternal.
The 'souls' (the aliens) in the book don't believe in this duality, arguing that the body IS the soul, and therefore the body - their hosts - is THEM. Even though - which is the case of the alien Wanderer (Wanda as she comes to be called) still feels the mind of her host Melanie talking with her. The concept of two minds in the same body eventually forces Wanda to go native, because she (and this 'soul' really is a she) is constantly bombarded with how a "true" human would do in any situation. It eventually even goes so far that towards the end of the book Wanda falls in love with a human, Ian. She also, at the end, begs the human rebels to extract her from Melanie's body and to then let her die, this because the 'souls' can't survive outside a host anywhere but on the planet called "Origin", home of the aliens. Wanda really wants this, as her time in Melanie's body has taught her how "evil" it is to walk around in a body that she has - in fact - stolen.

This book also brought to mind The Body Snatchers, as in the original 1955 science fiction novel written by Jack Finney, and all the books that novel spawned. And I think parallels can be also drawn to movies, such as Body Snatchers (1993), The Faculty (1998), "Surrogates" (2009) and "Gamer" (2009).

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