The Host by Stephenie Meyer
"Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.
"When Melanie, one of the few remaining 'wild' humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading 'soul' who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
"Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves-Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love."
You can now close your mouth and re-light your brain from that mind-boggling, complex insert-summary. But doesn't it just sound so compelling? And yes, this is the same author who wrote the Twilight series, which I'm not going to get into here. This novel is completely different than those. It is a love story between a man and woman, but there is also so much more woven into it: aliens (souls), betrayal, brother and sister love, danger, and murder. I'm not a big fan of love triangles, but this novel has a love triangle involving two men, two girls, and one body. Fascinating, huh?
This novel is unlike the other few science-fiction books I've perused. The aliens inhabit human bodies here on earth, and the reader soon learns that neither the humans nor the aliens are the enemies, but they both have can be evil. I also love Meyer's creativity; she doesn't just portray the aliens as these glowing blobs, but gives them personalities, backgrounds, and gives the reader a good picture of the other worlds mentioned in the book.
But what I love most about this book is that it is mostly about what it means to be a human: embracing both the joy and pain in this life, taking nothing for granted, and learning to love sacrificially. God created humans more uniquely and beautifully than any other creatures, and this book definitely highlights that truth.
When I first read this book, I was confused at part of the ending, so you might need to go back and re-read it. But it has a lovely, hopeful ending that is worth the pain and confusion the characters (and perhaps reader) trudges through.
I give this novel a 4 out of 5 and recommend it for 15 year olds and up.
What I learned: Life is so beautiful because it is so short. The pain and sorrows of life make the joys and highs that much more precious.
Stephenie Meyer's website: http://stepheniemeyer.com/