A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi story by the author of the Twilight series may be marketed to adults, but the content is still mild enough for teen Twilight fans. The sexual content is even a little milder than what's in that bestselling series. The main character has some passionate feelings, but they're held in check by the fact that she's hosting an alien and has no control over her physical body. The violence is also a bit milder. Aliens have taken over and are on the hunt for the humans in hiding, but the more intense moments concern the loss of a couple of humans living in the caves -- one slowly and painfully from cancer. At the center of the story is the alien Wanda, who learns the ultimate perk of being human: love. She's a positive, self-sacrificing character who also advocates for a nonviolent way for the humans to revolt. The movie adaptation of The Host is scheduled fo release in March 2013.
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What's the story?
Newly inserted in her human host -- adding just a silver glimmer to her borrowed eyes -- Wanderer is ready to experience another planet. A small tentacled, worm-like creature, she's lived a long time, taking over the bodies of many beings in the universe. The aliens always come en masse and quietly, only to live in the peaceful, orderly way once they have control. Wanderer thus begins her quiet new life on Earth, but finds she can't shake her human host Melanie's powerful thoughts and feelings. (Most beings give up their bodies quickly, but not Melanie.) Melanie's memories of her still-human brother Jamie and boyfriend Jared become so strong for Wanderer that she becomes almost as obsessed as Melanie with finding them. She's near death from thirst in the desert when she finally discovers Jared and Jamie with a whole colony residing in secret caves. And of course they take one look at her eyes, see an alien instead of Melanie, and nearly kill her/them on the spot. How can she convince Jared and Jamie that Melanie is still in there? And that her/their strong feelings for Jared and Jamie have changed everything?
Is it any good?
This book has quite a set-up, and if the relationship drama is what you opened the book for, it'll be a somewhat satisfying ride. That's as long as you're a fast reader who can survive hundreds of pages set in dark caves relaying the everyday lives of rogue humans.
Stephenie Meyer's specialty is love triangles. Twilight brought us human-vampire-werewolf melodrama. THE HOST's third wheel is an alien who absorbs her host body's strong feelings for her boyfriend Jared. So Jared can't kiss the love of his life without kissing the alien at the same time.
Fans who are picky about their sci-fi may want to look elsewhere. Meyer's alien-inhabited Earth could have used more depth, even if most of the story takes place with the humans in caves. Some details just seem odd, like if the alien medicine is so easy to use, why does Wanderer need to go to a clinic to get it? Love triangles can be messy and nonsensical, but in order for a sci-fi world to draw readers in it should make so much sense it scares you.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what drew you to this book. Was it the Twilight series? Do you like to read everything by favorite authors?
This book is marketed as an adult book. Do you think it feels more "adult" than the Twilight series? Why do you think authors who are very successful writing books for young adults try for a new audience?
Do you think this book translates well to the big screen? Are you interested in seeing the spring 2013 movie after reading The Host?
Themes & Topics
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