That's the way it is supposed to work. The aliens, or "Souls" as they call themselves, have inhabited beings on many planets. And usually the relationship works well for both parties. But for some reason, things are not working one hundred percent to plan on the human species. Some humans resist with a power that has never been seen by the Souls before.
Wanderer has lived on eight planets, she is used to inhabiting different bodies. Even among her kind, she is something of an anomaly, most Souls settle to one place after just a few worlds. For her ninth planet, Earth, Wanderer is inserted into a recently caught human. Uninhabited adult humans are so few now, most of the planet has been settled by the alien and rebel humans are fairly rare. The body Wanderer receives is twenty year old Melanie Stryder and she is NOT happy at being invaded. She resists and proves so strong that Wanderer is unable to suppress her.
Through Melanie, Wanderer (or Wanda, as she is eventually called) begins to see exactly what her kind have taken from the humans. The Souls are a peaceful and rational race, they aren't malicious in their takeover, they think they are doing great good:
"We did make whatever we took better, more peaceful and beautiful. And the humans were brutish and ungovernable. They had killed one another so frequently that murder had been an accepted part of life. The various tortures they'd devised over the few millennia they'd lasted had been too much for me; I hadn't been able to bear even the dry official overviews. Wars had raged over the face of nearly every continent. Sanctioned murder, ordered and viciously effective. Those who lived in peaceful nations had looked the other way as members of their own species starved on their doorstep. There was no equality to the distribution of the planet's bounteous resources. Most vile yet, their offspring--the next generation, which my kind nearly worshipped for their promise--had all too often been victims of heinous crimes. And not just at the hands of strangers, but at the hands of the caretakers they were entrusted to. Even the huge sphere of the planet had been put into jeopardy through their careless and greedy mistakes. No one could compare what had been and what was now and not admit that Earth was a better place thanks to us."
But what Wanda discovers, what no Soul has ever understood before, is the complex emotional makeup of a human being. Compelled by Melanie, Wanda heads into the desert to try to find Melanie's family. Though she almost dies in the attempt, she is found by the humans and taken to their underground hideout.
They know that Melanie is gone and that Wanda is using her body, and they are not about to trust her. It is a shock to Wanda to realize that it is not just Melanie's consciousness that loves her family, but her entire body. Wanda can't help but love them, too. She must convince them that she wants what is best for Melanie and all the humans there, before they kill her for being the enemy.
I haven't read any of Ms. Meyer's Twilight series yet. Everyone raves about them, but before I took time out of my schedule to read the whole series, I wanted to try this stand alone novel. I'm so glad that I did! She is a fantastic story teller, this novel almost crackles with energy and excitement. I could hardly put it down. I liked the way the themes of conflict, duty, citizenship and humanity were explored, it was extremely interesting and thought provoking. Twilight, here I come!
The Host is published by Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-06804-8.
So, now for the giveaway! I have five copies that will go to five randomly chosen lucky winners. To enter, just leave me a comment here telling me your favorite classic sci-fi or paranormal book. There is an extra entry for anyone who becomes a follower (all current followers who enter will get this automatically), blogs about the giveaway or tweets it on twitter. Please leave a separate comment with the link for a blog post or tweet if you do either of those. You can enter until midnight on July 15. Winners must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Good luck everyone and thanks for entering! Many thanks to Miriam at Hachette for sending me The Host for review and providing the books for the giveaway.