The Host

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Host Book Poster Image
Twilight author's adult sci-fi is fine for teens.
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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 18 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

Lets readers ponder what life may look like on other planets as Wanda describes fictitious planets she's lived on. It also shows what humans need to form a simple, functioning society: laws, agriculture, a water supply, etc.

Positive messages

Explores the value of humanity, weighing love, and other strong relationships against violence, hatred, and profound loss. It also explores acceptance for all life -- even the tiny parasites invading Earth -- and the dignity in choosing a nonviolent means of revolt.

Positive role models & representations

Wanda is a self-sacrificing figure who learns what it is to be human through her host and then wants to do everything she can to protect and save the humans she meets in hiding. Though she seems to have changed sides in the war, she still advocates for nonviolence against her own kind.

Violence

A couple of human deaths in the caves cause lots of mourning. One death is from a gunshot, the other is from cancer and is slow and painful until they finally find morphine and give the afflicted person an overdose to end his suffering. There's one near-death from an aggresive infection. Doc, the cave doctor, tries and fails to remove some parasitic aliens from their human hosts (from the back of the neck), causing death to unknown captives. Wanda ends up at the center of a few fistfights, an attack, and a near-drowning. Of course, the humans are hiding out in caves because small parasitic aliens have already taken over the rest of the planet; they did so sneakily and are nonviolent overall, except for the Seekers, who are constantly on the lookout for rogue humans to ensnare.

Sex

A few passionate kisses. Melanie has a flashback to being on the run with Jared and discussing how they'd have a hard time finding/stealing a means of birth control.

Language

Some instances of "hell," "dammit" and "jackass."

Consumerism

Mentions of Twinkies and other junk food found in abandoned houses or confiscated on raids. Wanda is thrilled when she gets a bag of Cheetos.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Some drinking, but alcohol (whiskey) is usually brought back from raids for medicinal purposes -- however it's mentioned that Doc gets drunk on it once.

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.

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old July 13, 2012

Great book but kind of iffy

I am 12 and I say that 12 and up should read this. Its a little iffy. On one part of the book I seriously thought about stopping. I showed my mom and she said I... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 12, 2012

The Host (read it!)

I thought it was very good. But it was kinda confusing in the middle. Nothing like Twilight. But amazing on its own.

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?

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