Name of Book: The Host
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Audience: 15 and up. Young adult readers will enjoy the challenge of what is considered to be an adult novel. Although intended for adults, the reading level, word usage, and content mostly attracts an adolescent audience.
Summary: Melanie is a 20-year-old human who has been living on the run. She is eventually captured and her body becomes a “host” by a soul known as Wanderer. She grows to love and care for Wanderer. Wanda, the nickname given to Wanderer, is naturally inclined to do good and is disgusted by violence. She feels guilty about the unrest her presence causes amongst Melanie’s loved ones, and throughout the book she puts others before herself and eventually puts Melanie first – again.
Literary elements at work in the story: Science Fiction/Fantasy. The Host is engaging and well written. The characters are likeable and the symbolism offers clear descriptions about life as a human. It is an excellent fantasy novel for those who normally do not like to read science fiction.
Theme: What is it to be human? The blessings of human existence, the value of the soul and faith in the world.
Perspective: The Host has a first-person perspective – from the point of view of an alien soul named “Wanderer.”
Theology: This story allows the reader to revisit creativity and watch it continue. With the contrast of beautiful, overlapping human emotions and the atrocities we are capable of, The Host describes humanity very well. “This place was truly the highest and the lowest of all worlds,” Wanderer reflects. It has “the most beautiful senses, the most exquisite emotions . . . the most malevolent desires, the darkest deeds. Perhaps it was meant to be so. Perhaps without the lows, the highs could not be reached.” Such descriptions of human life can bring critical thinking and contemplation to persons of faith. Just like us, Wanderer, or “Wanda” comes to realize all that makes up harmonious life. While conscious of all the blessings in the world, readers can relate, as we too are aware of the war, pain, disease, and horror that come with human existence. When we experience illumination there is also darkness, all that is good is challenged by evil, and joys are often met with sorrows.
Apocalyptic undertones are mentioned through the characters of Jeb and Maggie. These dedicated “survivors” choose to live separately from the rest of civilization as they wait for disaster. As youth and adults sometimes feel anxious about the “end times,” a discussion about these characters and the disaster they expect can be compared and contrasted to the prophesies of tribulation that can be found throughout the Bible,
Scripture: In the Book of Hebrews Paul wrote the congregation in Jerusalem just before the prophecies in Matthew 24 were fulfilled with the Temple being defiled and the city overthrown. He had known pain and suffering, and he tried to prepare the people for what was coming. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you …”(Hebrews 12:11,12,15)
The blessings of present life are often taken for granted. It is unfortunate that so many are blind to what comes after existence in the physical world. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:17-19; NIV)
Faith Talk Questions:
- What real-life example(s) can you share about the contrast between light and dark, good and evil, joy and sorrow? What Biblical example(s) do you know of?
- Why should you not be anxious or fearful of “end of time” predictions?
- Why are we so blessed when others must suffer?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Gina Craft.