Words Words Words Words: The Host Chapters 1 and 2

Sorry for the late post today, everyone. I just wrapped up the last paper I’ll ever write for college. Which is kind of weird.

Ariel wrote a life update about post-college graduation yesterday, so I’ll let you guys know what’s going on with me! This summer I’m working as a Digital News Intern in Arts & Entertainment at NPR. Amazingly enough, this blog helped me get this, so apparently it’s useful career-wise. That was unexpected! So unlike Ariel, I’m staying in the States, I’m single (ladies), and I have no idea if and when I’m going to grad school or what for yet. I’ll be a college grad with an English and Biology double major interning for NPR, so I figure there’s kind of a lot of different directions I can go with that.

Most importantly about my post-graduation plans, I’m seeing The Mountain Goats in D.C. on June 3rd. On the off chance one of our readers is also going, look for someone who doesn’t even remotely look like they write a comedy blog with a large focus on erotica.

See? Totally inconspicuous.
See? Totally inconspicuous.

Chapter 1: Remembered

Well, last week we read the prologue, so we get to start The Host in earnest now! Let’s see how this starts.

I knew it would begin with the end,

Oh boy.

and the end would look like death to these eyes. I had been warned.

Okay, I get what Meyer was trying to go for with this, and it is an interesting idea that the first thing a bodysnatching parasite would see in their new life is the end of their host’s life, but as soon as you say “it began with the end”, we’ve already got our first-class ticket on the train to cliche-town.

Not these eyes. My eyes. Mine. This was me now.

The narrator describes the experience of becoming acquainted with a new body, which includes challenges such as a new language and using a new respiratory system, which is an autonomous function, so, yeah, you’re really struggling here, narrator.

Not the body, my body.

Oh my god, we fucking get it already!

The narrator begins experiencing her host’s last memory, which experiences strong human emotions that she had been warned she couldn’t possibly prepare herself for. Yeah, get used to that one, weird silver goop alien thing. She explains a terrifying last memory, although only largely by saying that it was scary as opposed to actually describing any scary things. Although she does explain that the sense of smell is new to her, so we know that 1) Stephenie Meyer already forgot that we learned the main character has been a bear in the prologue, and bears kind of have okay senses of smell, or 2) Stephenie Meyer doesn’t know what a bear is.

"Well, Mr. Eriksen, I see you have experience being a bear."
“Well, Mr. Eriksen, I see you have experience being a bear.”

She eventually starts actually explaining her host’s last memory, although we only advance from “things are scary” to “running from things”, so, you know, baby steps. We learn that the host was running from “Seekers”, and was running with a few other people.

They’re right behind me now, loud and close. There are so many footsteps! I am alone. I’ve failed. […]
“Don’t hurt yourself,” one of them pleads. A deep voice, full of concern.
Concern!

Okay, I get that this is your first experience with HUMAN EMOTIONS, but this is straight up Anastasia Steele shit right here. A single word with an exclamation mark repeated from the last thing that was said? I can’t wait until this alien eats breakfast for the first time. “Breakfast!”

The narrator gets freaked out by the memory, thinks she’s not experiencing a memory but another voice, then thinks she’s experiencing a memory in a memory for some reason, then is convinced that there’s still another voice inside the body. It reads about as schizophrenically and confusingly as it sounds like it would.

Mine, spoke the alien thought that should not have existed. […]
Impossible. How was she still here? This was me now.
Mine, I rebuked her […] So why am I talking back to her? I wondered as the voices interrupted my thoughts.

I actually have no idea what’s going on.

Chapter 2: Overheard

Our narrator wakes up and we return to the world of the Healers we met in the prologue, who are discussing the narrator’s (oh my god, please give us a name already) violent reactions while taking over the host body. The narrator begins explaining the human behaviors in everything they say, and they briefly mock some of the others for whether human nature has negatively affected their ability to do their job as Souls, which is ironic.

“Maybe you’ve missed your Calling.” There was an edge to the man’s voice. Sarcasm, my memory named it. […] “I sometimes wonder if the infection of humanity touches those in your profession”

This is our supporting cast so far. Yay.
This is our supporting cast so far. Yay.

Their argument reveals a little bit about how there’s peace, but there might not be peace. That’s… that’s about as much as I can tell you. I’m still confused. Apparently the narrator’s host body, a girl who “appear[ed] in the middle of Chicago, a city long since civilized, hundreds of miles from any trace of rebel activity” poses a threat to this peace. This is funny for me because I grew up in the Chicagoland area and go to school out East, and have spent a good amount of the past four years explaining to people that to go from Chicago to anywhere that is not Chicago requires like a day of driving through cornfields. Haha, the midwest, am I right? What’s the deal with cornfields!

For an individual whose experiences and achievements were so talked up by her peers in the prologue, the narrator continues to be incredibly unimpressive.

I understood only now that I was the subject of the conversation. I was the soul they spoke of. It was a new connotation to the word, a word that had meant many other things to my host. On every planet we took a different name. Soul. I suppose it was an apt description. The unseen force that guides the body.

Well, I guess if you’re already going with the name “soul” you’re not really shooting for subtlety anyway.

They keep arguing amongst themselves and talking in circles and not really suggesting any more of the plot. Eventually they decide to name the narrator, which is weird because I’d assume they already had a name by this point, but whatever, I’m sick of writing “the narrator”. What’s our main character’s name?

“Wanderer,” he finally and unwillingly answered.
“Fitting,” she said. “I don’t have any official statistics, but she has to be one of the very few, if no the only one, who has wandered so far.”

This is fucking stupid.

Wanderer thinks about her life as her previous host, which was some sort of aquatic, hive-mind plant creature? Meyer’s trying to be deep, and it’s not going… swimmingly. Eh! Get it! Okay, maybe just read the thing:

We lived on the floor of the great ocean that covered the entire surface of our world […] We each had a hundred arms and on each arm a thousand eyes, so that, with out thoughts connected, not one sight in the vast waters went unseen. […] We tasted the waters, and, with our sight, that told us all we needed to know. We tasted the suns, so many leagues above the water, and turned their taste into the food we needed.

Okay, except light can’t even travel so much as a mile through water, so unless this ocean that covered the entire planet was only about 1000 meters deep, this creature couldn’t perform photosynthesis. Nice try.

Wanderer finally gives us some backstory about how there was war between the Souls and the human race because some humans were too strong for Souls to take over. That really undercuts the mystery of this entire “there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind” plot the Google Books summary told us about. It turns out the Souls are usually a peaceful people, so war was kind of a weird thing for them.

It ends on kind of an interesting note when Wanderer tries to search through her host’s memories to gain intelligence for the Seekers, who seem to be in charge of things on the military end. It ends on a less interesting note when she can’t access the memories she needs to because she can’t. Yep. That’s a pretty legit plot device.

“Welcome to Earth, Wanderer”

This is gonna be painful.

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17 comments

  1. shivani Reply

    ”with out thoughts connected, not one sight in the vast waters went unseen. […] We tasted the waters, and, with out sight”
    is it with out or our?

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  2. Kristin Reply

    Since I am still EXTREMELY pissed off at the ending of the Sookie Stackhouse series (final book was released Tuesday) I want to thank you both for giving me a new book to go” WTF?!” at.

    *Concern!
    Like I told Ariel yesterday, this is Meyer ripping off EL James now (and the teacher now becomes the student, I guess).

    Lastly, even though I am not actually “reading” this book, just the few direct passages you have posted have taken me immediately back to Twilight (and that is a place I never, EVER want to go back to…like, ever).

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      I’m so many books behind in the Sookie Stackhouse series! NOOOO DON’T TELL ME THE END IS BAD! Depressed =(

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      • Kristin Reply

        Bad isn’t even a strong enough word for it. Go to Amazon, check out the reviews. Its like CH didn’t even write it. The characters aren’t “themselves.” The plot is disjointed and hurried (but yet with a lot of mundane details about shopping and eating). Its as if EL James came and wrote it…ACK!!

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    • theparasiteguy Reply

      As far as I’m aware, The Host predates Fifty Shades by several years…which possibly means that EL James ripped off even more from Meyer than has already been established. Classy, no? 🙂

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  3. E.H.Taylor Reply

    The whole “it begins with the end thing” is very Twilight in that Twilight begins with Bella talking about her end (I wish…).
    Anyways, what I’m getting from this is that we’re supposed to believe the ‘souls’ are peaceful; that is, until the things they’re trying to /invade/ and /take over/ fight back, in which case that leads to war?!
    I think that flower picture is going to get some use throughout your posts on this book.

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    • matthewjulius Reply

      The flower picture is already two for two, which is already twice as much mileage as I thought I’d get out of that joke.

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  4. Bellomy Reply

    Let me tell you, for a society that supposedly doesn’t go to war it’s pretty amazing that they beat the human race, who are fucking MASTERS at this war shit. Son, if you’ve never been to war before, it’s not a good idea to fuck with the humans. I’m having a hard time buying that they won this shit.

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  5. Ali Reply

    how on earth has a race that takes over people has never experienced war?

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  6. Molly Reply

    “using a new respiratory system, which is an autonomous function, so, yeah, you’re really struggling here, narrator”

    True, even though reading that line ironically made me start breathing manually for a bit!

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  7. Jennifer Layton Reply

    I read this book about a year ago, and I remember it took me a good hundred pages before I was able to get a feel for what exactly was going on. It didn’t make the writing any better, but at least I didn’t finish each page thinking, “What the hell is going on here?!”

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      I actually preferred the movie to the book so much in this case because they moved things forward at a better pace. The book was so hard to get into and confusing in a non-intriguing way, which is exactly what you don’t want in a book.

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