Friday, March 10, 2017

DAY 93: Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST

Usually, when I mention Stephenie Meyer among writers or readers, I get one of a variety of reactions:
2.  I hate those books.  Buffy did vampires much better and Edward's stupid.  And Bella can't act.  Yeah, I mean the movies.  I never read the books because they're stupid.
3.  OmygodedwardissoawesomeifIcouldhaveoneofthoseI'dbesohappybutguysarejerks!
4.  You know you're reading emotional porn, right?
5.  People don't get that Bella's progression is a motherhood sun myth that is as ancient as any civilization on earth.  If you look at Bella and Eve...
6.  My book gets rejected every time I submit it, but she's a best-seller?  And don't get me started on 50 Shades of Grey!

Needless to say, when I bring up Stephenie Meyer, I try to forestall discussion unless I'm really in the mood for a polarizing conversation between people in the room.  Many of them have, however, given her due consideration by actually first reading the books and many have read something beyond the vampire books.

I have only one book signed by her and it's not one of the slightly-tattered copies of the Twilight series that I have on my shelf.  It's her adult science-fiction novel, The Host.

In it, the invasion of the body snatchers did happen and humans are now a minority on their own world,  Their bodies are still around, carrying centipede-like souls that have traveled between bodies and often the stars.  One of these is the narrator of the book and she is inserted into the mind of a girl who attempted suicide rather than be captured by the aliens.  The alien's handlers are interested in finding the girl's memories so she can lead them to the humans who are resisting the invasion.  The problem is that Melanie, the host mind, isn't gone yet and she has no interest in going down without a fight.  Soon, her alien is searching for the humans in order to reunite with Melanie's younger boyfriend and the man she loves.

I have to confess that the premise is a lot more interesting than any of the other books I've read by Stephenie.  It's also in a completely different writing style, since it's geared towards adults.  It deals with matters of life and death and ethical issues that are unavoidably unpleasant.  The humans, when they come into the picture, are not well-equipped enough to launch an Independence Day or District 9 scenario.  They are driven underground and live off the land with a lot of ingenuity.  (Their method of growing crops is one of my favorite aspects of her world-building.)  The book addresses the flaws and benefits of a communal society and the real dynamics of a settlement where they live in fear.

I cried at three points in the book and I won't tell where, but they have to do with an alien gaining understanding of and compassion for the people she is not meant to see as individuals.  It's less Stockholm Syndrome than the ability to grow, no matter your planet of origin.

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