Steamboat Springs Stephenie Meyer is the best selling author of "Twilight," "New Moon" and "Eclipse," a vampire romance and young adult series. Young adult literature uses slightly simpler language, limited adult presence, and themes that are relevant to young people.
I am not a vampire fan, but when Meyer's adult science fiction/alien novel, "The Host," came out, I jumped on the band-wagon.
In the book, the Earth has been taken over by aliens, and each human soul is replaced by an alien soul. Some humans are in hiding so their bodies are not taken over by the aliens, and they don't become hosts.
Wanderer, a mature alien soul, takes over Melanie Stryder's body after she attempts suicide, trying to escape becoming a host. Unlike humans, the aliens are good natured and nonviolent, plus they have advanced medical treatments. Melanie's body is healed, and Wanderer begins her life on Earth.
An alien is typically able to suppress a human soul, but not in Wanderer/Melanie's case. These two begin to live side by side in the same body, sharing memories, conversations and movements. Because of this difference, Wanderer/Melanie decide to try to find Melanie's family hiding underground from the aliens.
The search begins in the desert where Wanderer/Melanie almost dies from dehydration. At the last minute, they are discovered by Melanie's family. They are taken to underground caves where a colony of humans has been living.
The only distinction between aliens and humans is a silver ring lining the pupil of the eye.
Because of this, Wanderer/Melanie is not accepted by the people in the caves, and they must tread lightly. Wanderer/Melanie is happy to have found Melanie's family, but realizes the people don't see Melanie; they see only the alien, Wanderer.
A human tries to kill Wanderer/Melanie, but instead of seeking revenge, they save the human's life. This helped them gain favor with the underground family and Melanie's family begins to wonder if Melanie might be alive inside Wanderer.
Above ground, aliens start to look for Wanderer, and, at the same time, the humans capture one. Just as Wanderer/Melanie saved a human's life, they also feel compelled to save this alien's life.
Wanderer/Melanie discover they can save human souls by capturing the alien souls, returning them to other galaxies and hoping the suppressed human souls will return to their bodies.
Wanderer's own life has to be sacrificed to allow Melanie's soul to return to her body and her family, but many other souls will be saved.
I am not a fan of science fiction, aliens or books that have a story as far fetched as this one.
However, Stephenie Meyer develops the characters in such a way that I fell in love with them. I started to care about what happened to Melanie and Wanderer as they discover their purpose in life together. I enjoyed the relationships that developed between Wanderer/Melanie and the colony of humans - the relationships were full of compassion, mercy and second chances.
After reading this alien tale, I won't be as quick to set aside a science fiction novel simply because of its genre.
"The Host" is published by Little, Brown and Company 2008 and is available for sale at Downtown Books for $25.99 and also is available at the Moffat County Library.