"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Not really a book review

Many months ago the book The Host by Stephenie Meyer was on my bedside table. I cannot say it was a 'page-turner', but the premise and the sensitive portrayal of a human unwillingly hosting another within herself was haunting for me to say the least. Immediately after finishing, it seemed obvious this was a book I needed to blog about, but could not. The feelings of sadness it created were too raw.
It took months before I could bring myself to sit and ponder how powerfully the book affected me. 

The host is a human female living in a ficton where the earth has been invaded stealthily by aliens who have no other existence but as a parasite. Inserted into a human, they take over the conscious control of the body, eliminating the previous consciousness; well, usually eliminating it. 

Meyer's portrayal of the inner conflict between Melanie and Wanderer (the invader) kept me reading, anxious to see how the author would find resolution. She somehow managed to capture the horror, the struggle, ultimately the respect and love between those two personalities I understand so well from my own inner life. The parallel of a female subsumed by an alien control (in my case a male persona imposed by societal pressures) was obviously an irresistible hook. What surprised and ultimately crushed me was a 'happy ending' in which miraculously both personalities manage to triumph, something that cannot happen in my world. 

I won't see the movie.


  1. There seems to have been something, probably unintentionally, spiteful in the ending; a misplaced wish to leave the reader on an upbeat, Disneyish note, rather than with a likely truth. I'm sorry, Halle, that a chance was missed to create something useful with the book. Probably wise not to see the movie.

  2. Beautifully insightful, as always Tom.
    Thank you.

  3. No point in seeing the movie, it seems to pale in comparison to your description of the book. I have not read it personally. Oh an yeah I did not like the ending in the least.

  4. Thanks Nadine. I find it fascinating to watch a movie having reading the book the screenplay was taken from. Only the best acting performances convey a depth of internal struggle to the audience. I am curious what devices were used in this case, but not curious enough.

  5. Most movies only use a few pages from an original book and those pages are often dropped on the floor and picked up in a random order! Hate films of books I have read...

    Having lived that plot al I can say is that the alien nearly drove me over the edge and I could have easily ended it for both of them. Can't see how two opposing personalities can inhabit one body with comfort.

    Thanks for the warning, will not read the book or watch the film.

    1. I am sure the book would only bring back hated memories for you Caroline.
      While I cannot think of any examples right now, there have been books that were captured quite well in film, but it seems to me short stories do best.

    2. And of course you are correct that with no 'meeting of the minds' in sight, the situation grows less tolerable each day.

  6. The other day I opened the TV and heard part of the last sentence spoken by a female author "........is the difference between being a body and having a body".
    No idea what it was all about but this is what came to my mind when reading you today.

    1. It would be interesting to be able to follow up on this, for yes, there is something of that in Meyers' book.
      For fun, I just 'googled' your quote and came up with an article by Hans-Peter Krüger in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy from 2010: Persons and Their Bodies: The Körper/Leib Distinction ..."

      The available excerpt gave me a headache. Perhaps I am not cut out for "true" philosophical thought. :-)

  7. I had toyed with the idea of reading the book when I saw an advert for the film. Think I might leave it then.
    A person sharing their body with another consciousness is something that the Stargate SG-1 series used. I'd not given it much thought but they didn't have the host being in conflict with the consciousness that was sharing a persons body all that many times.

    There's a few books that I've read and also watched the film of. For me the worst had to be Asimov's I Robot. As a movie in its own right it wasn't too bad but having read the Robot novels and knowing Susan Calvin's character from them I hated the way she turned out in the film.

    I'm hoping that the film Ender's Game does justice to the book when it comes out at the end of the year and I'd love to see a film version of Raymond Feist's Magician.

    1. Never watched SG-1, but seem to recall one of the Star Trek programs used this idea too.
      It is a very long time since I read Asimov's book and haven't seen the movie so I won't.
      Sometimes with science fiction you need the book to understand the movie. Certainly the ending of 2001 A Space Odyssey was like that.:-)

  8. I had feelings similar to yours, Halle, when I read this book. I had forgotten, until now, that you read it. I cried more than once but I found it to be well written and very powerful. It certainly, for me, was a very emotional book.

    As you know, I read books written by female authors almost exclusively. I found this one to be a real gem, despite the emotional connection you, me and others have in that we carry two spirits within us. It was painful, but it was worth the read.

    I, too, however, will not see the movie.

    I'm glad it made your "page 40 (I think that's the number)" test.

    Calie xxx

    1. I always go to 50, but you have the idea. :-)

      Very glad you suggested it too.