The Host Review: Dreamed (Ch 4)

I apologize in advance if anything in this review seems… less coherent than usual.  I’m writing this under the influence of NyQuil (the greatest drug made by mankind.) so we’ll see how it goes!

Bring It On

Chapter four is significantly shorter than three, and a lot less expositiony, which is great because three chapters of exposition dumping was a bit much don’t you think?  Try weaving some of that into the subtext would you Meyer?

Anyway, this chapter is a dream sequence.  …I take it back, I’ll take more exposition instead.  Oh wait, it’s exposition AS a dream sequence.  All my dreams are coming true!  We’re getting Steph… I mean Melanie’s backstory now!  On the first page, we get the start of something that is very clearly something happening to Melanie in the past, we get this line:

The arcadia door is open two inches, letting the swamp cooler do its job.

I at first thought an Arcadia was a car.  Perhaps she had a getaway car on and waiting for her.  Nope, it’s followed by:

I can imagine the feel of the moist, cool air blowing through the screen.

So I have no idea what an Arcadia is.  A Google search led me to nothing but cruise liners and a video game.  And some condo buildings in my city, but since she’s in the US, not Canada, that seems unlikely.  Also who the hell leaves their air conditioner on and a door or window open anyway?


Moving on.

She talks a lot about someone named Jamie.  We know that her boyfriend’s name is Jared so it’s not him, and we know Meyer would never write a character she expects you to like and have them ever have had sex before, because god forbid, so we know it can’t be her kid either.  Especially thanks to this line:

All the pressure of motherhood with none of the knowledge or experience.

Which, you know, I don’t really think most people who have their OWN kids have knowledge or experience before they have their first one, so technically speaking it could be a new baby, but I’m pretty sure she’s implying that someone else hefted the responsibility of a child on her without her consent and she’s not very good at it.  But we all know this vagueness is just set up to make pointless tension with the boyfriend anyway that we all know isn’t real tension because at this point we already know she’s dating someone.  Or wants to date someone at least.  I think a more fun narrative is that this Jared guy is just some dude she’s seen from a distance and is stalking.  Sadly Meyer doesn’t let me live with that thought for very long though…

She talks about how the aliens were able to win the war of the body snatchers because they so identically mimic human lives.  Which seems kind of odd to me.  If they so perfectly mimic their human hosts how would we even notice a change?  And wouldn’t that mean that they couldn’t possibly be non-violent in human form?  If that dickbag you work with all of a sudden stopped picking fights with you and started buying people lunch, well, it’s already a common joke to say ‘who are you and what have you done with the real Jim?!’ people would notice!

'Who are you and what have you done with the real Donna?'

‘Who are you and what have you done with the real Donna?’

Back to the book.  She walks through the door, which is apparently not locked, so clearly they aren’t just like us because it’s pretty rare to find a place where people don’t lock their doors.  She’s apparently been stalking these people since she knows what they had for supper.  But she says that they keep the routines of the people they were, and going out on Friday nights is normal, but then why would they cook?  Most people I know who go out on Friday night at best grab a snack and eat while they’re out.  I know some young people that don’t go out till late and eat supper first because they’re going to a bar for a concert, but…

Sorry to interrupt this train of thought, I’ve been informed that an ‘Arcadia’ is a sliding glass door.  So why didn’t she just say ‘patio door’?  This also suggests that they have their air conditioner stationed in their patio door.  Is this normal anywhere?  I’ve only ever seen air conditioners in windows…  Whatever, back to the previously scheduled thought process.

You bore Brad Pitt

But this seems to be an older couple in a suburb, not a pair of teenagers likely to go out to get drunk late into the night.  Do these aliens even get drunk?  CAN they get drunk?  That would certainly set off a lot of alarm bells in the human population during the early stages of the invasion if they couldn’t.  Though I suppose if they could no one would care when they confessed that they were actually alien parasites since they would assume it was drunk talk…

Easily distracted today.  She raids the fridge, talks a lot about food and how hungry she is and I wonder why she doesn’t just stuff something into her mouth from the fridge because the flimsy excuse she gives doesn’t seem to hold much weight to me.  It’s along the lines of ‘if I eat even a crumb I’ll sit on the floor and gorge and then get caught!’ but if she’s really so hungry that all of her survival instincts would get overridden by gorging she would probably not have the energy to make this little raid in the first place, adrenaline be damned.  Not to mention that she can eat and move at the same time.  Stuff something in her pockets and eat a handful as she gathers other things, then maybe she’d have more energy for a quick escape!

Basil calls bullshit

Basil calls bullshit

She also implies there’s meat.  Why is that important you ask?  Well, they’re a peaceful race aren’t they?  Who among them mans the slaughter houses?

She does stop for a drink, but that doesn’t overwhelm her of course.  Because consistency.

As she tries to leave, she’s caught by a man who’s so violent we all know immediately that he’s not one of the aliens, because even when they were being violent to Melanie they were still using non-threatening language, not threatening to kill her.  Melanie isn’t that smart though, despite that this is clearly several years after the takeover, and they’ve attempted to establish already that she’s familiar with their behaviours.

It turns out to be Generic McChisel-jaw, Jared himself.  They go back and forth each thinking the other is a parasite out to trick them, but if Jared was one he already has her in his arms he doesn’t need to trick her!  I’ll pretend this can all be chalked up to fear and paranoia and nutritional deprivation, but in reality that only explains the initial reaction, not the entire length of how long this exchange goes on.

Jared figures out first that Melanie isn’t an alien despite her having more reason to believe he isn’t one than he does to believe she isn’t, because of course he’s going to be established as smarter than her.  He’s also established in this flashback dream sequence as being stronger and faster than her, and more resourceful, but we’re stuck following the whiny girl because this is a romance pretending to be sci fi.  If this were a real sci fi novel with a female main character we’d have a Ripley, not a Bella.  And then this happens:

His hands grab my face from both sides, and before I can pull free, his lips come down hard on mine.

Judging You

Which I’m just going to point out seems a little bit rapey.  Maybe this is just me, but if I did that to a girl I didn’t know I’d expect to have the cops called on me at best.  She then justifiably freaks out, he tries to convince her he’s not an alien, but she bolts like a scared cat after kicking him in the stomach (which is not where I would expect to get kicked in that scenario) and somehow manages to almost outrun him despite that she’s so hungry she can’t even take a bite of food without being consumed by need and still carrying the sack of food she grabbed from the house.  Definitely plausible.

When he does inevitably catch up he tackles her to the ground, which somehow doesn’t cause anything to break despite how weak she would be from hunger nor does it spill anything from her bag of goodies.  He straddles her chest, pinning her arms with his legs, which leaves me wondering why she doesn’t just raise her knees to hit his back, but whatever.  He shows her his eyes trying to show her that he’s not an alien, and she demands to see his neck, which he explains wouldn’t help ‘cuz he cut himself there forever ago trying to fit in.

“My name is Jared Howe. I haven’t spoken to another human being in more than two years, so I’m sure I must seem… a little crazy to you. Please, forgive that and tell me your name, anyway.”

I just want to point out that long term isolation inhibits verbal capacity.  His language skills would be limited after two years without speaking to another human being.  He would not use sentences like ‘Please, forgive that and tell me your name’.  He would be more likely to say ‘I haven’t talked to anyone in so long!  Who are you?!’  Also, even if he weren’t dealing with long term isolation, nobody fucking talks like that.  If I met someone claiming to be human who talked like that I would assume they were an alien.

This is how much thought I imagine was put into making sure everything made sense.

This is how much thought I imagine was put into making sure everything made sense.

She’s apparently already got a crush on mister rapey but to be fair that’s not unrealistic.  Human nature tells us to band together and years without that sense of belonging and togetherness, you would cling to the first person you met too.  It’s just annoying because I know that’s not what Meyer was thinking of when she wrote this:

“Do you really think I’m going to let you disappear? I’ll follow you even if you tell me not to.”

I don’t want to disappear from him.

This is how I see most relationships in romances.

This is how I see most relationships in romances.

After the fake tension between Melanie and Jared, where for a moment Jared thinks she has a boyfriend or a kid, Melanie explains that Jamie is her little brother.

“My brother. He’s just nine, and he’s so frightened when I’m away. It will take me half the night to get back to him. He won’t know if I’ve been caught. He’s so hungry. ”

Which we find out in a terribly written line of dialogue.  Because that’s totally how people speak when they only person they’ve had to talk to for forever is a nine year old little boy right?  I feel like I’m just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking though so on with the rest of this dull chapter.

Jared kisses her again and it’s slightly less rapey though he still just does it, asking her not to kick him for it, not ‘can I kiss you’ or ‘please let me kiss you’, but, whatever, she likes it this time so apparently it’s okay now.

Cared so little he almost passed out

Jared has a car, he offers to drive Melanie to wherever her brother is waiting for her, and then Wanderer wakes up screaming and for some reason now that we’re in the present the narration switches from present tense to past.

I woke up covered in sweat. Even before I was all the way awake, my fingers were on the back of my neck, tracing the short line left from the insertion. I could barely detect the faint pink blemish with my fingertips. The medicines the Healer had used had done their job.

No Wanderer, the ‘medicines’ did not do their job.  If they did, the scar wouldn’t be pronounced enough for you to feel.  I have lots of scars, only one of them I can feel.  If they’re so much more advanced than us, she shouldn’t be able to feel anything at all.  Hell, it shouldn’t even leave a scar.  But she certainly shouldn’t be able to feel it since it’s apparently been months since the insertion.  If he had done a good job months should be plenty of time for that to not be sensed anymore.  Actually, the scar I can feel is on my neck and was from surgery even.  Guess what it’s not?  Pink.

Wanderer rats out her host to the bitchy Seeker the second she wakes up, telling that she has a brother and where his last known location was, and then Melanie freaks out and Wanderer freaks out and there’s a lot of boring self-doubt on the part of Wanderer about how she’s not strong enough and what else Melanie has managed to hide from her and blah blah blah.  This all further backs up that the hosts stay alive inside their bodies and have to sit and watch the aliens live their lives with no recourse to do anything, most people simply being too weak minded to do anything about it.  Honestly that’s pretty horrifying.  Imagine being trapped in your own body, watching someone else live your life, convince your friends and family that they’re you as they conspire to assimilate your loved ones into the alien collective and you can’t even scream or struggle or cry, only watch through eyes that are no longer solely yours…

That'll work

Salt keeps aliens away right? Or was that ghosts? Demons maybe?

Anyway, Mel tries to convince her to send the still not named Seeker another message telling her that she’s a crazy person and to just ignore the last email.  When it doesn’t work she kinda sounds like a petulant teenager not getting her way.  But Wanderer comes off no better, saying she needs her Comforter, which thanks to the Llama I picture as a big security blanket rather than a person.  Wanderer also tells Melanie to leave if she hates her, which comes off as really horrible since that bitch is the one in Melanie’s body, not the other way around and telling her to leave is the same as telling her to die, which seems a bit harsh for a pacifist wouldn’t you think?

I still hate all the characters in this book, I’m sick of exposition and back story, and I genuinely hope this book ends with all the alien parasites dying of the common cold like in War of the Worlds.  But this chapter was mercifully short at least.

See you next chapter where I get further evidence that Wanderer isn’t the special little snowflake the characters keep claiming she is.


The Host Review: Remembered (Ch1)

The question llama and I found gifs…

So yeah, that cautious optimism from the end of the prologue?  Fuck it.  Chapter one strips all that away with contradictions, confusion, piss poor writing, and all the rage inducing pseudo-science.  I’m seriously questioning my own sanity for taking this on, and we’re only on the first chapter.

I really did think it had potential for that first 5 pages...

I really did think it had potential for that first 5 pages…

It starts with the parasite talking about how she’d been warned that this was going to suck, but Fords mentioned in the prologue that the souls had no senses of their own outside their host body, so did they extract her from her last host knowing this was where she would end up and telling her while she was still in that body?  I had assumed until this point that they stayed in a host body until it died, and then they were transferred into the first available body.  So if the consciousness of the host is destroyed when the parasite is attached, removing the parasite would kill it.  So they murdered her previous host body to put her into this one… why?  Why did she need to be in this body specifically?  Is this body important?  Is it the leader of some human resistance and they want to put this particular soul in it because she’s some kind of cunning spy whose skills are centered around infiltration and extermination?  Is she a peace negotiator?  Is she Batman?  We’re still on the first sentence of the chapter so let’s move on…

She describes the language of her host body in the following way:

“The language I found myself using was odd, but it made sense. Choppy, boxy, blind, and linear. Impossibly crippled in comparison to many I’d used, yet still it managed to find fluidity and expression. Sometimes beauty. My language now. My native tongue.”

Where to begin with this?  How can it be all of those things?!  I understand what Meyers is trying to do here.  She’s trying to establish the alien as an alien trying to understand the intricacies of humanity while trying to make it sound poetic and exotic in its crudeness, but she’s just contradicting herself.  It’s like she just selected adjectives at random from the thesaurus for ‘clumsy’.  She’s trying too fucking hard.  Also, it’s not your native tongue you fucking parasite!  It’s your HOST’S native tongue!  Your native tongue would be the first language you’d ever learned, which given the list of bodies you’d inhabited I’m going to guess was ‘pheromones’.

She then mentions that it’s her species’ ‘most basic instinct’ to latch onto the ‘center of thought’.  So what the hell did she latch to in the flower?  And I’m pretty sure spiders don’t have conscious thought, just basic instincts and physical reactions to external stimuli independent of anything but the nerve clusters required to sense the stimuli and move, kind of like how your hand will move off a burning stove before your brain actually registers what happened.  So what exactly would be the center of thought in a spider?  And thinking about it, how small are these things that they can inhabit a spider and a flower?!

…Moving on.  The parasite talks about how she feels the sedation wearing off and ‘lucidity returning’.  I’m going to assume Meyers hasn’t been sedated in a while.  I don’t know about you, but the last time I was sedated, which was only a month ago and I was only out for 4 hours where I imagine this host body has probably been out for a few days, when I woke up, ‘lucidity’ didn’t really return so much.  Not for a while.  I woke up, and, I dunno, I remember being able to hear…  I eventually started to feel pain, and eventually started to figure out what the things I was hearing were (people were apparently talking about me right in front of me.  It was very rude.)  but it took a lot longer than the description here implies.  I was semi-conscious for a good half hour, and even after that I was still groggy for the next hour or so, which was all before I was even on any pain medication so it wasn’t just that.  This makes it sound like as soon as you open your eyes your senses and consciousness return within a minute or two.  Perhaps Meyers is just failing to accurately portray time, but I suspect it’s more to do with her getting her ideas of how this should work from movies where everyone looks sexy after waking up from being drugged.

In the same paragraph is one of my biggest problems with this chapter.  The alien describes how she braces herself for the ‘first memory’ which is apparently the ‘last memory’ of the host, “the memory of the end.” its own death.  But here’s the problem with that.  The host body isn’t dead. So either the parasite is wrong to call it a memory, because it’s actually what the body is going through as the parasite destroys the last vestiges of the consciousness section of her brain, which would be something I imagine all souls would get, and thus this whole ‘brace yourself for something horrible’ shtick would be a little melodramatic, or they don’t consider anything that happens to the host body after it comes into their possession as being ‘alive’.  Which I suppose would be a way for them to justify considering themselves empathetic and kind while killing people.

But neither of those things work, because one, she keeps calling everything the host body experiences as she waits for its consciousness to die as ‘memories’ as though they aren’t currently happening, including emotions and physical sensations, but the ‘memory’ she seems to be referring to is still the moment of the ‘accident’ that got the body in this position in the first place.  So, the final memory is both the dying thoughts of the host body as the parasite sucks away its consciousness, AND the last thing that happened to it before it was captured.  WHICH DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.  WORDS HAVE MEANINGS MEYERS!  And the alien downloaded every memory of this body, and the entirety of the body’s knowledge of the English language; it would fucking know what a goddamn memory is.  She doesn’t just get to use whatever words she wants because she’s an alien; she fucking speaks English now!

She uses ‘memory’ for things that aren’t memories a lot in this chapter.  It caused me to stop reading a lot.  It took me several hours to read this seven page chapter.

Words; they mean things

Words; they mean things

She mentions that the emotions of the host body are incredibly overwhelming and stronger than anything else she’d felt in any other host body.  Why?  I mentioned before that spiders function more on instinct which is a crude evolutionary precursor to emotions, more than actual thought.  Wouldn’t being controlled pretty much purely by base reactions be stronger than human fear which we can actually control?  Do bats, who raise their children and live in colonies, not experience powerful fear and aggression?  Ever piss off a mama bear?  Nope, ‘cuz if you had, you’d be fucking dead.  Did Meyers not do any research and just pick past host bodies that she figured people wouldn’t know much about the biology of?  I’m going to keep coming back to that list.  I’ll stop bringing it up when she stops contradicting it.

I'm judging you.  You're not doing well.

I’m judging you. You’re not doing well.

The parasite talks about the sensations the body is feeling, and it includes a lot of pain.  Apparently Deep Throat isn’t as good a healer as the book claimed, because if he had healed her body as well as he claimed there the body wouldn’t be in pain.  Oh, you say, but what about that wound he inflicted to insert the parasite!  Ah hah, I say back to the empty air that’s talking to me, the parasite specifies the pain is in the limbs.  Plural.  All the limbs are in pain.  If they waited till the body was healed, the limbs wouldn’t hurt.  Sedation doesn’t cause pain.

APPARENTLY none of her previous host bodies had a sense of smell.  According to Stephanie Meyers, bats and bears don’t have a sense of smell.  Words cannot describe the emotion I felt when I read that.

Just think about it.

Just think about it.

She describes the memory of the ‘accident’ the host body had as though she could actually feel the physical sensations of it, but I think that’s a serious misunderstanding of how memories work.  First of all, if the parasite has already downloaded the body’s understanding of the language, it should already have ALL of her memories and thus wouldn’t be being bombarded with the most recent one, so she’s not actually experiencing the final memories of the host body she’s experiencing the still alive host body processing what happened to her.  Which would be a memory that the parasite had already downloaded and thus would already be familiar with and not be surprised or overwhelmed by.  I suppose you could argue that the speech centers of the brain are separate from the cognitive centers, but if the parasite latches onto the cerebral cortex (which practically speaking makes no sense, they should latch to the medulla, the parts of the brain that control movement, autonomic processes like the pumping of the heart and breathing, and basically everything you need to actually LIVE.  Taking over the cognitive center of the brain would not give them control over mobility.  The body would continue to function independent of the wishes of the parasite, becoming a zombie.  I suppose it doesn’t say that they don’t just start there and take over the entire nervous system from there, but the implication seems to be that the center of your being is the cognitive center, when really that’s just window dressing…  The body functions with or without that part of your brain.  You can literally lobotomize that entire section of the brain and you’re still not dead.  In fact, if not the ENTIRE cortex is removed, you could even compensate and still live a relatively normal life.  In order for the parasites to have all of your memories, they would have to leave all of that intact, which means YOU are still intact, which means you can still THINK, you just have no control.  So in essence, all of the ‘souls’ would have to coexist with their host body’s existing sense of being.  You would be trapped, able to see and feel everything, and words would be coming out of your mouth but they wouldn’t be yours…  THAT WOULD BE A MUCH BETTER BOOK!

Nope, doesn't bother me at all!

Nope, doesn’t bother me at all!

…Sidetracked there for a second, anyway, what the hell was I trying to say?  Oh yeah, the parasite describes human limbs as clumsy and that’s demonstrably not true.  Especially compared to the LACK of limbs of a flower, and the animals that lack, you know, hands.  Try doing surgery as a BEAR.  Humans developed dextrous hands and limbs specifically for (or because of at least) sophisticated tool use.  They are NOT clumsy.

She goes on to describe the memories and emotions of the host being so powerful they take control of the brain back from the alien for a moment.  What?  Do I have to rant about how the brain works again?  She then describes herself as being ‘sucked into’ the memory, but if the memory detached her, how would that work?  I would think that this would mean that the parasite wasn’t ‘detached’ it just didn’t anticipate the strength of the emotions, was caught off guard, and couldn’t react fast enough to stop the host brain from thinking its thoughts and she got caught up in a vivid and painful memory of being chased by… people who seem to be concerned for her safety and who are trying to stop her from committing suicide.  Terrifying.  I assume that’s going to be explained later.

“A high, shrill keening pierced my ears and pulsed in my head. The sound scraped through my airways. There was a weak pain in my throat.

Screaming, my body explained. You’re screaming.”

She apparently doesn’t understand the concept of screaming.  Remember the list?  Bats?  Do you understand the problem here?

It’s after that that she FINALLY realizes that things that are happening right now aren’t memories.  Apparently the part where she says ‘screaming’ isn’t the parasite realizing it, it’s the host explaining it.  Again, she’s hooked into the ‘center of thought’ she has access to the entire knowledge base of the host body, she should already know what screaming is.  But oooo the host body isn’t dead!  We already knew that.  Fords explained that.  That seems to be the way this works.  They don’t take over DEAD bodies, that’s why he had to HEAL HER before inserting the ‘soul’.  Unless the parasite erases all aspects of personality from the host body’s brain, which would remove access to memories, and stop them from being able to blend in at the start of the invasion, you cannot take away the brain’s ability to think without destroying it and your ability to use it to its full capacity.

You missed

You missed

The chapter goes on to describe the memory of the ‘accident’, which is the host throwing herself down an elevator shaft so they can’t implant an alien parasite in her brain.  Worked out great!  But it brings me back to what I was trying to explain earlier before I went into a neurobiology lesson; why is she living out this final memory?  If she downloads all the memories backwards, starting with the most recent, she would lack the context necessary to make any sense of the information.  If it’s just because the memory is so recent, so it has the strongest neural pathway connections and thus automatically triggers in the soul when the connection is formed, that doesn’t work because that wouldn’t be the most recent memory of the host body.  In fact, chances are after falling down an elevator shaft she probably wouldn’t remember much of that at all.  But either way, the time in between that it would take for her to heal, all of which she spent unconscious, even if she did remember it, it would be fuzzy. She wouldn’t remember sensations and specifics, the feeling of her limbs flailing in the air…  Chances are she would remember running, and maybe jumping, and then, nothing.  In more or less those vague terms.  That’s assuming the landing didn’t cause a concussion, which is pretty unlikely.  But, back to the point, it still doesn’t make sense to actually refer to that as a memory.  The parasite isn’t just sorting through the hosts memories, most recent to oldest like going through files in a cabinet, she’s experiencing the thoughts of the host brain, which, just regaining consciousness after a trauma, would be trying to make sense of everything it’s currently experiencing through the context of the last thing it remembers happening.  But that wouldn’t be new.  The soul would experience that with every new host body, and she’s already had 7.  She should not be surprised or overwhelmed by any of this.

Through all of this, not once does someone come up and ask if she’s okay or needs help or if anything’s wrong.  She screamed, and no one came to see if the body hadn’t been healed properly.  No one decided to check to make sure there was nothing wrong.  So either they left her alone despite knowing this would be hard on her, making them heartless despite their earlier description, or this is all normal, which means this isn’t especially hard, and the prologue was still lying.

Is she dead?  Alright everyone, time to go home.

Is she dead? Alright everyone, time to go home.

Throughout all of this, she keeps saying things like ‘my language’ and ‘my body’.  In ways that are emphasising that she is adjusting to being this person, but it comes off as naiveté.  Which would make sense if this was her first body.  She shouldn’t have to keep reminding herself that this is her body though by number 7.  She should just understand that whatever body she’s in is her body and the adjustment would be less philosophical and more ‘man, I miss having wings…’  She then goes on to talk about the memory fading to blackness, and then a rush of a new memory fills the spot.

“But this was not the same memory. This was a memory within a memory–a final memory, like a last gasp of air–yet, somehow, even stronger than the first.

The blackness took all but this: a face.

The face was as alien to me as the faceless serpentine tentacles of my last host body would be to this new body.”

This part finally talks about her last body, and my first reaction was ‘so is that a see weed?’  But it doesn’t clarify.  At least not in this chapter.  But the ‘face’ is of course the most handsome man ever.  And despite speaking English, she doesn’t know what eyebrows are.  I promise I won’t rant again about how the brain works…  Meyers doesn’t make it easy to stick to that promise, so I’m just going to say that this alien is an idiot, the man is square jawed without a beard, and everything about him is light brown.  Doesn’t really strike me as the description that would make a lot of girls swoon, but what do I know?

She goes on to describe how generic human faces are compared to one another, how little variety there is between individuals, and again I am brought back to that fucking list.  She says humans are all varying shades of brown.  Have you ever seen a purple bear?  Yeah, there are black bears and polar bears, but those aren’t variations between individuals, they’re differences between subspecies.  Individuals have very little variation.  Humans at least do different things with their hair and clothes and men can shape their beards, and some people wear glasses and tattoos and such.  The most variation between bats in a colony is even LESS distinct variations in shapes and sizes than in humans, and the same goes for bears.  Spiders, depending on the subspecies, might have variations in spots or stripes, but those would be relatively minor as well, and many flowers are exact CLONES of each other.  Meyer did no science research at all for this science fiction book.

“There were small lines around the eyes, and her memories told me the lines were from smiling and squinting into sunlight.”

So she can access the memories that explain wrinkles, but not screaming, eyebrows, the definition of the word ‘memory’, the man’s name, the fact that he’s a man not an it, or the fact that the host body wasn’t dead when she was put in it.  REALLY hard to keep that promise right about now…

Oh yeah and she describes him as beautiful.  I’ve noticed this is a recurring word.  I suspect it’s a theme that will continue and piss me off.

I don't care enough to keep a count.

I don’t care enough to keep a count.

The body somehow manages to steal back the memory of the man and hide it from the parasite, which makes no sense at all.  You cannot hide memories from something plugged into your brain.  It’s not possible.  I would give Meyer the benefit of the doubt and say maybe the group that the host body came from has a parasite there feeding them information about how to retain control and trick the parasites, but honestly at this point she’s given me no reason to believe there will be anything SMART in this book.

The parasite starts talking to herself, or the voice in her head at least (technically she would be the voice in the hosts head, but this is told from the perspective of the parasite, so from that vantage point…) and she doesn’t seem very happy about it.  She acts as though the host should just go away when she takes over and how DARE it try and keep its own body now that it belongs to the parasite!  Yup, compassionate and loving race!

So, now that my review is three times the word count of the chapter let’s wrap this up shall we?  This chapter fucking sucked.  All the possibilities I thought were there from the prologue would not fit in this book because clearly the author doesn’t care about making this book coherent or scientifically literate.  I can stomach pseudo-science in my science fiction, you need it to make most of it work, but it has to at least sound like it makes sense and not completely contradict pretty easily understood concepts like that bats and bears have fucking noses.  I hate this book already.  There are 60 fucking chapters, and we’re only on chapter ONE!  What have I gotten myself into?

I've made a huge mistake

The Host – Prologue

Don’t forget to check out Quizzicalllama!
So we begin.  I decided to start with the prologue instead of the first chapter because…well, there was stuff to talk about.  Fair warning: I’m an atheist, and this thing starts out with some religious imagery, so I suspect the rest of the book will have it too.  I have no desire to offend anyone and will try not to, but I apologize in advance if I do.  For now, on to the book!

The prologue starts with a very strangely named man; Fords Deep Water.  They start out by calling him a ‘healer’ and a ‘soul’, and say:

Because he was a soul, by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous, and full of love.”

But because Mr. Water is stuck being a human, he’s trapped with our flaws, like anger and frustration.  See what I mean about the religious overtones?  Very subtle.

Based on what we know about the book at this point, we can assume that ‘souls’ are the alien parasites, and humans are their hosts.  Water is apparently some well-known healer, and he’s currently working on a patient, surrounded by gawking students.

His assistant’s name is Darren.

I don’t know what to make of that.  Is Fords Deep Water the weird name?  Did all the souls pick their own names when they took on human bodies, and Fords just picked random words?  Maybe Darren arrived much later in the invasion, and by then they actually understood names.  Or maybe the other way around; maybe Darren needed to fit in, but Fords got to pick whatever fucked up name he wanted because they’d already taken over.  I like Fords better.  Darren sounds boring.

Anyway, Fords doesn’t like his fans, and Darren tells him to relax and act like the hippy his name suggests he is (in fewer words, obviously).  Fords says an ‘insertion’ is easy; they should all know how to do it, and the dumbasses are distracting.  We’re not told what an ‘insertion’ is.  We have enough information to guess, but I prefer to live in the gutter, so I’m going to assume they’re filming a doctor-themed porno and just getting to the fun part.

Darren says the students have never seen a ‘grown human’.  I can’t decide if that makes humans like organs or zoo animals in this book’s universe.  Deep Water (sounds like ‘deep throat’, which strengthens my porn theory) basically calls Darren an idiot, pointing out that everyone is living in the bodies of grown humans, so to see one they only have to look in a mirror.  Darren calls him a buzz kill and the patient ‘soulless’.

Apparently, the girl they’re operating on is face down on an operating table.  I had been picturing a metal table like the ones you dissect animals in biology on, so I admit that when I read that part, I pictured the poor girl with her nose and chin squished against metal.  Meyers does nothing to specify that there’s any kind of hole for her face to rest in, so I’m just going to go with that instinct.

Supposedly, Deep Water healed her body, as he had found her bloodied and broken and brought her in.  They say they’re good, but maybe Deep Water just THINKS they are, and they’re actually the aliens from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and they found her and beat her up and then brought her in for assimilation, and the rest of the book she’ll be fighting the parasite, trying to find the queen bee to take back Earth!  But I’m pretty sure this is a romance novel, so I’m not going to get my hopes up too high that this turns into something epic.  But man, if it does, I’ll be so happy.

Anyway, Fords saved her from death, and now they’re going to put a new ‘soul’ into her.  I can’t tell if they think people are just cows or not.  Maybe they’re some super advanced race and humans are just vessels through which they can continue their otherwise peaceful lives, essentially freeing humanity from disease and war and violence, and the story will end with the host chick realizing that humanity was the aggressor all along.  But that wouldn’t be much of a twist, since the prologue starts out talking about them being all gentle…hmmmm.  Maybe it’s not supposed to be a twist.  Maybe the main character isn’t the human, but the alien.  The alien conflicts with her, trying to make her see that they’re not evil, that they’re not out to hurt anyone, and the host body keeps fighting her, and making trouble for the peaceful aliens.  Then the alien gets arrested because everyone thinks it’s her, and she has to clear her own name while still fighting for control of the body from the violent human!

Maybe I’m overthinking this…

Water tells Darren to stop being an asshat, and to respect the vessel for the ‘poor soul’ that is being put into it, as apparently, for some reason that isn’t explained (at least in the prologue), it’s going to be painful and traumatic for the alien.  The implication is that that’s not normal, though the implication is also that it’s not normal because the host is an adult, not that the host is ‘special’, so at least this isn’t some ‘chosen one’ bullshit.  I have liked ‘chosen one’ stories, but the trope IS kind of annoying.  But yeah, he accuses Darren of being disrespectful for gawking at the body and treating it as a sideshow attraction instead of the body of a fellow soul.  Which I’ve got to kind of agree with; I wouldn’t want to wake up after a brain transplant to find a bunch of kids staring at me.

The boring assistant says something about a ‘Seeker’ that pisses Fords off for reasons that aren’t made clear, but he scares Darren, so he apologizes and says it’s only because he’s afraid the soul he puts in the glorified corpse is going to go through hell when he sticks it in.  My words, obviously.

We’re given a little backstory on the soul; apparently it’s lived many lives, and it is a she.  I argue that this implies that the author supports transgendered people, as apparently your gender is a part of your soul, not your body, so I’m not going to make fun of that, and instead choose to believe that this is Meyer’s way of supporting trans people.

Up till now I’ve been kind of picking on this, but I actually find this prologue a lot more interesting than I expected to, and it’s made me want to read more of the book.  This next bit, though, I actually have to take issue with.  The students start talking about the past lives of the soul…yes, they actually word it like that; like I said, not terribly subtle.  They say she’s lived on 6 or 7 other planets.  So far still kind of cool; maybe these aliens are immortal as long as they can find a new host body soon enough, and the ‘seekers’ mentioned earlier are like the scouts that go out in search of new worlds, and the fact that they found an adult human ‘in the wild’ suggests that they’re not as securely set up here as they thought, so they are trying to figure out if they need to find a new host world.  Still potentially really promising, right?

Here’s where that hope starts to fade a bit.  The students say she lived on other planets, then start to list her past lives:

“She’s been almost everything. A Flower, a Bear, a Spider –”

“A See Weed, a Bat –”

“Even a Dragon!”

So, apparently all planets contain the exact same biology.  One has dragons, but for the most part, all Earth-based biology.  The reason this takes my hope away is that calling the aliens ‘souls’ and all their host bodies ‘lives’ was unoriginal enough, but Stephanie Meyers isn’t even original enough to make up alien species’ names.  She couldn’t even be bothered to specify a type of flower.  And if the ‘soul’ has to be PHYSICALLY inserted into the host body, through use of an operating table and their species equivalent of a doctor, and the soul has to be held in a cryotank in hibernation, it suggests it is actually a physical being, so how the hell did it take over a flower?  And if they can live in flowers or fucking seaweed, why would they need to take any risks by taking over humans? Why not just live in the bugs?  And if they’re taking over species with limited capacity for medicine and carrying around those cryotanks, how were they transferring ‘souls’ into flowers?  Fords and Darren and all those students are already human at this point.  They are using human hands and technology humans have already to do this transfer.  If they were all flowers THEY COULDN’T DO THAT!  FLOWERS DON’T HAVE HANDS!

By the way, if you noticed the quote says ‘see weed’ instead of ‘seaweed’ and thought I typoed, nope!  That’s how it’s spelled in the book.  ‘See Weed’.  I think it’s a dandelion covered in eye balls.

Anyway, Fords gets pissed that the students won’t shut up, yells at them, and they all act shocked that someone would want them to stop gossiping in an operating room.  Apparently, the girl is perfectly healthy thanks to the good doctor, but she’s sedated, and they begin inserting the new soul.  Apparently, the cryotank has a dial that has to be turned…again, flowers and spiders can’t turn a dial.

The narration talks about the process of cutting open her neck, stopping the bleeding, and the doctor seeing pale spine.  More nerd rage.  Inside the human body, the bones are not really all that pale.  They’re ‘bad teeth yellow’ when they’re outside the body and clean; when they’re inside the body, with all the muscle tissue and capillaries, he wouldn’t describe them as pale.  That’s a lot nit-pickier than the last complaint, but clearly the author knows nothing of science, and I’m going to spend a lot of my reviews complaining about how inaccurate it is, because that kind of thing pisses me off.  Which brings me to my next nitpick: She calls the thing the doctor uses to stop the bleeding ‘medicine’.

“…and then sprayed on the medication that stilled the excess flow of blood”

That’s it, just a spray on Band-Aid!  I really, really hope the rest of the book doesn’t try and pretend it understands science or medicine…

The rest of the prologue is spent with Fords admiring how pretty the soul is, and lamenting how difficult her life is going to be.  Apparently the Host may not be ‘the chosen one’, but this soul is ‘special’.  So maybe I was right when I thought earlier that the hero was actually the alien, not the human.  Even with the nerd rage, I would still be pretty happy to find out that’s the way she went with the story.

There’s really nothing else of note in the prologue.  They mention ‘Origin’, which I assume is their home planet, which most of them don’t seem to have ever actually been to.  Meyers attempts to world build, but does so with really shitty science and massive winks to religion, so I’m left feeling kind of torn about this.  I still have hope.  I know what she did to vampires, but maybe since aliens don’t have a specific lore, she can pull them off… but if this turns out to be not just a thinly veiled metaphor, and these actually are ‘souls’ that gained sentience outside their bodies, and ‘origin’ is heaven, and now the pure souls are being allowed to return to Earth and live out their lives however they see fit, I’m going to be super pissed.  Religious fiction is not the same as science fiction!  Both have their place, but label them properly so I don’t have to read about Jesus, and people who want to read about Jesus don’t have to read about Cthulhu!

Next time, chapter one!  I am cautiously optimistic!