Host by Stephenie Meyer (Hardcover: May publication)
The author of the best selling Twilight series, Meyer, turns her pen to science fiction in what turns out to be a work that will haunt the reader well beyond the final page. I say “turns out to be” because the first fifty pages had my head spinning. The reader is expected to know much more about the story than is possible, and is left filling in blanks that take many pages to finally be explained.
The premise is that there are creatures--souls--being attached to humans, and taking them over. Lock, stock, and barrel: emotions, actions, life. The human body is nothing but a host, hence the title.
It turns out to be more complicated than that. Surprise. Most hosts readily give in to the implant surgery (a slice in the back of the neck), but not everyone. The earth is now populated by the transplanted souls, yet a few brave rebel humans remain (hiding in caves in Arizona).
There are some silly missteps: the names of other planets, the flowery dialogue between existing souls. The conceit of the book can be difficult to understand, especially early on.
But Host is rich, vivid, intricate, and yet simple. On many levels it’s a master work. It is Stephenie Meyer, after all. But you may wish your arm chair or mattress came with a seatbelt. It’s a jarring, dark world we are led into -- quite literally. One where it’s often difficult to know whom to root for, and ultimately whom to love or hate. But love and hate are the focus of the story--it is ultimately about emotions and what makes up the human experience. That’s life--and after all, life is what Meyer evokes so well.