Host, The by Stephenie Meyer

Meyer, S. (2008). The Host. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

ISBN-13: 978-0316218504

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Adventure

Reading level/ interest age: 14+

Plot summary:

An alien race has enslaved the human race under the presence of peace. They believe humans incompetent of protecting themselves and abstaining from violence. People’s minds are entirely controlled by the alien inside and each person with a host has a visible ring around their iris, which serves as the only outward indication of possession. 

Wanda, a very experienced alien controller, is brought to Earth and given the task to crack her host’s mind to obtain information on a possible human hideaway. Melanie, Wanda’s vessel, is a tough fighter and gives Wanda a constant headache trying to quiet her inner thoughts. However, Wanda has lived hundreds of years and is confident in her ability to finish out her mission. 

The one thing no one was expecting? Wanda begins to feel sympathy for Melanie. Though she is still determined to carry out her mission, Wanda starts to question her existence. Can there be a peaceful resolution to human-alien relations after all?

Reader’s annotation:

The entire globe has been taken over by an alien race that possesses human’s brains. With so few people left free, can there be any hope for a happy ending?

Information about the author:

“Stephenie Meyer's life changed dramatically on June 2, 2003. The stay-at-home mother of three young sons woke up from a dream featuring seemingly real characters that she could not get out of her head.

"‘Though I had a million things to do, I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the computer to write—something I hadn't done in so long that I wondered why I was bothering.’

“Meyer invented the plot during the day through swim lessons and potty training, and wrote it out late at night when the house was quiet. Three months later she finished her first novel, Twilight. With encouragement from her older sister (the only other person who knew she had written a book), Meyer submitted her manuscript to various literary agencies. Twilight was picked out of a slush pile at Writer's House and eventually made its way to the publishing company Little, Brown where everyone fell immediately in love with the gripping, star-crossed lovers….

“Stephenie lives in Arizona with her husband and three sons” (, 2014).

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       How would you feel if you lived in a society that was almost entirely possessed by aliens?
2.       Would you choose to help Melanie if you were in Wanda’s position?

Critical evaluation:

This book appeared to me as an Animorphs knock off at first. The alien race very closely resembles the yerks from K. A. Applegate’s series as both races are small, slug-like creatures that possess the host’s brain. However, the book lacks the heroes of Animorphs and the free humans left in Host are only interested in survival, not fighting back. The plots differ greatly even if the alien races resemble one another. 

Host is an amazing improvement of the author, Meyer’s, writing style. Upon its initial release, I remember critics dubbing this as her first adult novel. However, I would beg to differ. Though the book has a rather large page count, the main characters are all young, they lack parental authority, there is a love triangle, and the book is told form first person perspective. While Host may have a very different story line that Twilight, they are written much in the same way and both have an anticlimactic, happy ending. 

I believe that irony is the largest literary element present in this novel. Wanda starts out as a captor of Melanie. Though Wanda develops sympathy for her, Wanda cannot break free of her nature as that is what her physical from was meant to do. Wanda does eventually find a way to set Melanie free. However, even though Wanda finds a new form to control and the ending trumpets the fact that everyone is set free, Wanda is actually still both a prisoner of her host and the captor.

Challenge issues: N/A

Why included:

Stephenie Meyer is a widely recognized and popular author in teen fiction. I have included this book because it demonstrates Meyer’s growth as a writer and many who read the Twilight Saga could be interested in reading this too. The movie also was released several years ago and people who saw the movie may want to read the book as well.

Reference: (2014). Bio. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from

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