The Host is a 2008 Science Fiction novel by Twilight creator Stephenie Meyer, and was both her first sci-fi work and her first adult novel.It takes place After the End, where a successful infiltration-style Alien Invasion means the Puppeteer Parasites have made the world a more pleasant and peaceful place where they can just sit back and enjoy life... aside, of course, from that pesky handful of "wild" humans, who caught on sooner and have still managed to avoid capture. Enter "Wanderer", a "Soul" (alien brain parasite) who's been unusually restless, going from one world to the next... and enter Melanie Stryder, one of the few remaining wild humans, who's just been captured sneaking around Chicago and is now Wanderer's host. However, it turns out that knowing your body's going to be taken over by a Soul allows one to fight back, and Melanie fiercely resists giving up intel or her mind in an effort to protect both the man she loves and her younger brother from sharing the same fate.This means trouble for Wanderer of course, since not only are human senses and emotions more intense than any other body she's ever experienced, so too are human memories more ridiculously vivid - and Wanderer finds herself inevitably growing to love Melanie's man Jared and brother Jamie, even though she's never met either. Eventually she even grows to consider Melanie herself a friend, despite originally wanting her to disappear. This combination leads her to risk absolutely everything to find Jared and Jamie... which gets more than a little awkward when she actually does succeed in finding them, only to be kept as a prisoner since, duh, she's one of Them now. Just to let you know exactly where all this is kind of headed towards, the novel's premise is often somewhat accurately summed up as being "a love triangle with two bodies"; "somewhat", because by the end of the book it's actually more like a love quadrangle with three bodies.It turns out to be an odd entry into the SF genre, though, because the aliens are actually "altruistic" and "kind" by nature, but unfortunately suffer from a seriously inverted case of What Measure Is a Non-Human?. They're clever when it comes to technology and have "peacefully" conquered countless worlds and many of them have lived for literally thousands of years in different hosts... but it's yet to occur to them that, you know, maybe their hosts might deserve to have free will too. Which makes things more than a little uncomfortable once Wanderer realizes that she actually considers humans to be likable in their own right, and becomes torn between being loyal to her own species and betraying them for the sake of largely unrequited inter-species love.The film version of The Host was released on March 29, 2013 and was written and directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, In Time). It received an aggregate rating of 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and an average of 36 on Metacritic.
This book provides examples of:
Aliens Speaking English: But only the ones who've got human hosts, and only because their host would have known it first (assuming that the host did speak English, of course. The story's set in America, though, so for our purposes it's a moot point).
And I Must Scream: Happens in a few cases, although generally it seems that the human's mind is destroyed upon them being possesed.
Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The Souls completely neglect to realize that there might be something about humanity (or, hell, any species that isn't their own) worth saving, at least at first. The human version of the trope also makes a bit of an appearance, but given that the Souls not only stole our planet, but also our entire way of life, virtually all of our infrastructure, and the bodies of many loved ones, and are still somewhat set on capturing the rest of us and making us hosts as well... you can kind of see the logic in not particularly liking them much, no matter how "altruistic" and "nice" they may otherwise be.
Author Avatar: Melanie Stryder, period. Even the names are similar.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: BrothersIan and Kyle spend most of the story against one another, especially where it relates to Wanda, and it gets to the point where Ian is briefly the main person trying to kick Kyle out of the caves. Just when you think they are going to fall into Cain and Abel territory, they get moments that reveal their bond and love for each other.
Bad Liar: Wanderer, mostly because Souls (with the exception of Seekers and members of the first wave) never needed to lie.
Betty and Veronica: Subverted. Ian and Jared fit the bill all right, the subversion being that the Archie is actually two people in the same body with Ian only interested in Wanda and Jared interested in Melanie. Honestly, it could be viewed as a metaphor for a guy loving you for you for your mind/personality vs. a guy loving you for your body.
Bizarre Alien Biology: Leaving aside the fact that they have no eyes (or mouths?), have blood and other tissue that's silvery in color, and are effectively a very squishy, gracefully flowing centipede with brain-controlling tentacles, their reproductive method, which involves suiciding queens splitting apart into thousands upon thousands of tiny little babies is... well, yeah.
Perhaps this is an indirect tribute to Orson Scott Card, a Mormon author who created an alien species who also reproduces in a way that is fatal to the mother. Only grosser. Really.
Or perhaps these aliens are expies of the Yeerks. Silvery-gray in color? Check. Control other species' minds by wrapping their bodies around them? Check. Reproduce via suicide? Check. Never realized that their hosts might be anything more than meat until forced to confront the fact? Check. Definitely not copies, though, because Yeerks are slugs, Souls are insects.
Black Dude Dies First: Subverted. The one black man present in the human colony does not die first. He does, however, die the only violent death onscreen, when the Seeker shoots him.
Body Surf: Wanda ends up doing this when her friends swap her into another vacated body.
Broken Aesop: Free will is more important than a utopia, and living parasitically in a host body is immoral. Which is why we'll move Wanderer against her express wishes into a different host body, ruining another alien's happy life in the process.
Cain and Abel: Kyle and Ian just skirt being this. Jeb and Maggie also come close, in a rare brother-sister variation of the trope.
Chickification: Wanderer is a strong, intelligent Soul who has been on more worlds than most and is held in high regard among the Souls. She once defeated a Claw Beast on the planet of the Bears, transplanted a friend into it on the spot, and rode it into the city. At the end of the book, she's implanted in the body of a petite young blonde girl and can't even carry her own sleeping mat without the help of her man.
Melanie gets it as well. She starts out as a strong survivor who opted to jump down an elevator shaft to save herself from being assimilated. Any time her boyfriend appears onscreen though, or comes to her mind, she makes some pretty stupid decisions, including letting Wanderer know where her colony of "wild" humans are hiding (keep in mind that Wanderer's job is to find and assimilate them as well).
Her decision is justified. Melanie sends Wanderer her memories and emotions and shows the "wild" human colony's location only when she is sure that Wanderer cares deeply about her boyfriend and brother. Wanderer wouldn't be able to betray them, which Melanie knew, having constant connection with her mind.
That said, Melanie is still heavily dependent on Jared, to the extent that she only bothers trying to "talk" when he is around. He even has to pull off a heavily subverted Distressed Damsel rescue when she's not responding in Wanderer's head.
Also, Doc. Wanda actually asks him why that is, and it turns out he finds his real name embarrassing. It's Eustace.
Everything Sounds Sexier in French: When a Soul gets a new host, they automatically gain all of that host's communicative abilties, which leads Wanderer to often mention translated idioms from previous alien cultures that she's lived in... which leads to a running gag with her noting that "it sounds better in Bear".
Expy: The protagonists, Wanderer and Melanie, seemed to remind me of someone from another book Meyer has written recently... I just can't put my finger on it. Granted, they both have a lot of differences too, mainly that Melanie's a bit of a Tomboy with basic survival skills that Bella lacks. And Wanderer, well, Wanderer's an alien.
Naturally, it follows: Say Melanie's full name out loud. Now say the author's name. Do you hear it?
Also, the Souls themselves, who are a rehash of a very old idea*
Extreme Doormat: Wanderer. Even the human colonists eventually get annoyed.
Part of this is due to the communal nature of the souls but part of it is a survival strategy to avoid antagonizing her (understandably) hostile captors. She gets better about it as she feels less threatened.
Fantastic Racism: Implied, in that it never occurs to the souls that maybe they shouldn't be taking over the minds of every species they run across and essentially wiping them out. One species commits mass suicide to escape them; rather than rethink their system the souls cheerily continue infesting the ones who didn't escape in time, pausing only briefly to regret the waste of host bodies.
It's more than implied. The aliens go on and on about how "violent" humans are, all of them, painting them all with the same brush time and again, using this horrible, Nazi-like generalisation to justify genocide.
Even after Wanda comes to the conclusion that Humans Are Special and shouldn't be hosts, she doesn't extend the same consideration to the other species that the souls have conquered. For that matter neither do the humans, who are more than happy to ship disembodied souls off to other worlds to inhabit hosts there.
The Seeker, at least in the film, makes a point to mention that Earth is the only planet that they have done this, where the inhabitants were not symbiotic with the Souls.
Faster Than Light Travel: Also somewhat implied (at least if we give Meyer the benefit of the doubt). No way are any habitable, carbon-based-life-supporting planets within 5 years' travel of Earth without it, even if they areGeneration Ships.
It's outright stated that, even with faster than light travel, the closest planetary system takes at least a decade to reach (the furthest ones require centuries). On this point at least, Meyer has done her homework.
Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Kyle and Ian. Maggie and Jeb are a subversion in that Maggie comes across as rather level-headed while Jeb comes across as somewhat crazy yet Maggie is the foolish one as she lets pride and stubbornness rule out basic logic while Jeb is the responsible one who views things from all angles and is quick on his feet.
Genetic Memory: The Souls have a form of this, though given the way they reproduce, it kinda makes a vague sort of sense.
Guilt Complex: Wanderer feels that everything that goes wrong is her fault. Sometimes she's right to feel that way but most of the time it's the complex.
Half Way Plot Switch: Happens twice. It starts out being about an alien adjusting to life as a bodysnatcher, then devotes the entire second act, and much of the third, to developing platonic & romantic relationships with the rebels, before focusing on saving the humans near the end.
Heel Face Turn: Wanderer's joining the side of the humans. She is not alone in this; other souls like Sunny and Burns do the same.
Heroic Sacrifice: Melanie attempts suicide in order to prevent the hosts from using her memories. Wanderer attempts suicide, but the others intervene at the last second.
Heroic BSOD: Wanderer has one when she discovers the doc is attempting to remove souls out of the humans. She hides herself away for two days and doesn't talk to anyone
Honor Before Reason: Wanderer, who lies, badly and obviously, in order to protect the life of a guy who repeatedly tried to kill her.
She also tries to trade her life to save the life of the Seeker, who has hounded her for months and killed one of her friends.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Kyle and Jodi/Sunny. This also is the fate of Ian and Wanda in Pet's body.
Also, Wanda comes to the conclusion that humans shouldn't be hosts but doesn't extend this consideration to the other species conquered by the souls. She doesn't consider the members of those species to be as unique and special as individual humans are. Neither do the humans, for that matter.
In-Series Nickname: Some souls have these since their names tend to be mouthfuls. We get Wanda for Wanderer, Sunny for Sunlight Passing Through the Ice, Pet for Petals Open to the Moon, Fords for Fords Deeps Waters and Burns for Burns Living Flowers.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Wanderer gives up on retaining Melanie as a host for Melanie's sake, effectively trying to commit suicide because she doesn't even want to take over another host (she now sees it as cruel and unfair to the host)... but also largely to give Melanie back to Jared and vice versa, making it a sort of doubleI Want My Beloved to Be Happy.
Long Lived: The Souls. Other alien species are implied to be this as the Souls claim that humans have some of the shortest life cycles in the Universe.
Love Triangle: In two bodies! The triangle being Melanie/Jared/Wanderer.
Love Dodecahedron: In three bodies! Ian loves Wanderer who falls for him in return but Mel is so steadfast in her love for Jared that the body causes Wanda not to respond to Ian and forces her to have feelings for Jared. Jared loves Melanie but there are hints that he is starting to fall for Wanderer as well.
Mercy Kill: An old man in the human community is painfully dying of bone cancer. Jared steals enough painkillers for Doc to give him an overdose.
Mind-Control Eyes: A Soul-possessed human's eyes develop a silvery eye shine (given that the Souls' tissue and blood is silvery in color, this may or may not make a slight bit of sense). This is somewhat portrayed on the book's cover, though, as only part of the pupil appears silver, instead of the "all of it" kind of portion you'd get from eye shine. This is likely to show that Melanie is partially in control.
The Mind Is A Play Thing Of The Body: The Souls are strongly affected by natural instincts and sometimes memories of their hosts. If a human host loved someone before the transformation and this feeling was mutual, its very likely their souls will become a couple. It happens even if souls haven't met each other before.
Moe: Invoked by the choice of Wanda's final host, who is so petite and pretty that other people will naturally want to protect her and not suspect her of anything.
Moral Dissonance: The Souls consider themselves peaceful, loving, and perfectly moral, despite the fact that their primary activity appears to be wiping out other sentient species (that is, the species still exists in a biological sense, but the individuals composing it are functionally dead. At best, it's slavery on a grand scale, but since what happens to the individuals is closer to murder "wiped out" isn't pushing it too far.)
Moral Myopia: To the Souls, having the host gain control of them and thus erase their identity is considered a Fate Worse Than Death. The Souls doing this to their hosts is, of course, nothing of the sort.
Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: The Souls that didn't take their human host's name have these, such as 'Sunlight Passing Through the Ice', 'Glass Spires', and 'Rides the Beast'.
Protagonist-Centered Morality: Toward the end, there is a very visible division between the humans who like Wanderer, and those who don't. Those who don't are portrayed as bitter and selfish, while those that do are, well, the heroes. There are a few who don't care much about her either way, but they are not among the more important characters. Somewhat justified in that Wanda had to earn the trust of everyone who likes her, but it's still implied that the only reason people might not like her is because they are horrible people.
Bear in mind that the story is written from a first-person perspective. It's no more unusual for Wanda to think better of people who are nice to her than it is for anybody else, especially given the cultural mold of the souls. And Wanda does concede that the humans who hate her have justifiable cause; she just gets tired of it after a while. Again, who doesn't get worn down by constant hostility, regardless of justification?
There's also the fact that the aliens are actually surprised when their invasion targets commit suicide instead of allowing them to take their bodies and minds away from them, seemingly unable to comprehend the fact that their targets don't want to be taken over.
Race Lift: In the book Melanie is described as having tanned skin and is part latina on her mother's side; in the Movie she is played by Saoirse Ronan.
Really 700 Years Old: Wanderer claims to be thousands of Earth years old, though she admits that she's lost count of her real age.
Red Shirt: Walter. Up until his death throes, the only real characterization he has is "Supports Wanderer." When his death scene rolls around, it just serves to illustrate how caring and sensitive Wanderer is.
Starfish Aliens: According to Wanderer, there are a grand total of, uh, exactly zero remotely humanoid species in the universe other than humans. So much so that they have to give new names to different species due to new mouths.
Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Especially when it comes to medicine, which is almost ridiculously effective, ridding the body of infection, fever, cancer, whatever, pretty much instantly.
Symbiotic Possession: Wanda and Melanie finally become friends after Wanda spends some time with other humans.
Tastes Like Diabetes: In-universe. Souls kept television around after taking over the planet, but every single pre-invasion show (save, briefly, for The Brady Bunch) was booted off the air and replaced with the Souls' original programs. All of them fit this trope.
Time Abyss: The Souls. They have been around for millennia and can live forever. They even spend up to centuries in hibernation when they are traveling in space. At one point, Wanderer, who has lost track of her own age she's been around so long, can only pinpoint an event as being "after the dinosaurs lived on Earth".
Viewers Are Geniuses: Given that the story is told from the first-person perspective of an alien, there's a lot of subtext in the characterizations that isn't readily apparent. This leads to characters like the Seeker, Maggie, Sharon and Kyle coming off as two-dimensional Designated Villains. Meyer could have put more work into fleshing out their motives and histories.
Xanatos Roulette: Jared initially believe everything Wanderer does is proof that she's secretly a Seeker trying to infiltrate the group. This starts to annoy the others since he keeps it up way too long and even Jared starts to realize how ridiculous he's being.