That’s right. The Host, by Stephenie Meyer of the Twilight Meyers. It’s her first novel aimed specifically at adults, apparently.
You know what they say? When at the beach, read as the beach readers do. And as my friend was making her way through this particular tome, she kept injecting outraged outbursts into our peaceful bubble of sea, sun, palm trees, fruity drinks, and melanoma. And when finally she summed up the plot for me, I knew I had to read it next. AND SO WILL YOU. Or at the very least you’ll let me tell you about it.
Dear Stephenie with 3 E’s crafts a potential future of our world in which our human bodies have been colonized by specialized aliens who travel through the vast reaches of space doing this sort of thing as a type of experiential tourism that’s also somehow a lifestyle and ethos. They are called Souls. (Are you gagging yet?) Anyway, there are pockets of independent humans on the run who don’t like well-intentioned aliens turning their friends into simulacra, and one of these, Melanie, gets caught and an alien named Wanderer is inserted into her. However, Melanie’s mind is still alive and kicking in there, and she and Wanderer duke it out in a love triangle that becomes a love quadrilateral. Get this:
Mel loves Jared. Jared loves Mel. Jared does not love the alien personality, Wanderer, inhabiting Mel’s body and thus keeps her in, like, a spiderhole for about half the book. Wanderer (or Wanda, as she comes to be known) on her part first loves Jared too because of Mel’s overwhelming memories but then falls in love with Ian. Ian loves Wanda for her personality; he therefore does not specifically love Mel’s body. When Jared kisses Mel/Wanda, Mel is pissed because she thinks he is kissing Wanda, who has control of the body. When Ian kisses Mel/Wanda, Mel is pissed because she doesn’t like being kissed by dudes who aren’t Jared. SEE BELOW FOR LEARNING AID.
There are subplots, but does that matter? Meyer is in it for the soulmates. You can see the pairings develop miles away, just like in every other book she’s ever written. There’s a deus ex machina that falls like a New Year’s ball: it’s obvious, ridiculous, and easily anticipated. There is zero sex, but you already knew that. And annoyingly, the story is told first-person by Wanda, a creature thousands of years old who has inhabited different life forms on nine worlds, gaining immeasurable experience and knowledge, and somehow still sounds like a tween scrawling in her diary. Maybe something interesting could have been made of two tween-acting girls inside of one head, but Mel is neglected for vast expanses of narrative in favor of… basically nothing, just Wanda musing on her situation in really trite terms.
The one thing I learned is always trust that crazy uncle of yours who has conspiracy theories because when the pod people do really take over Planet Earth, you will be glad he left you coded directions to the underground cave bunker mirror farm jail Watership Down complex he scratched out of the Southwestern desert, where he and 45 others will be waiting for you when you return as a prodigal podperson yourself.
Basically I would definitely recommend this book to any of you who enjoys preposterous chickfiction, if it were 200 pages shorter and had committed more fully to the ridiculous potential of its plot and if Twilight weren’t better for that anyway. Probably the only way you could actually make it through the thing is if you can read really fast and have someone around who also enjoys bad lit enough to be a good partner in commiseration. Since I’m the fastest reader I know and my friend is the sort of person for whom you pick up a copy of Billionaire Doctor, Ordinary Nurse, this book worked. Almost.