The Host – Prologue

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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!

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