The Host




Science Fiction, Romance Novel


Little, Brown & Company (Adult)

Publication Date

May 6, 2008

Media Type

Print (Hardcover)


619 pp


Stephenie Meyer

ISBN Number


The Host is a science fiction/romance novel by Stephenie Meyer which she describes as "'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', if the aliens had won". The novel introduces an alien race, called souls, who take over Earth and its inhabitants because they believe humans to be too violent. The book describes one soul's predicament when the mind of the host body refuses to cooperate with her takeover.

The Host was released on May 6, 2008[1] with an initial print run of 750,000 copies.[2] However, an international version of the novel was released on April 2, 2008 in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and Hong Kong by the UK publishing division.[3] The prologue and the fourth chapter of the book can be found on Meyer's official website.[4]


The idea for The Host originated on a trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake City. Bored, Meyer made up stories set in the same area to entertain herself, and was halfway through outlining the story of The Host in her head before realizing what she had created.

She notes that the story grabbed her attention, and that she "could tell there was something compelling in the idea of such a complicated triangle." Originally meant to be a side project, The Host eventually became a priority.

The character of Ian was originally meant to play an extremely small role. As a matter of fact, Meyer had no plans for a romance between Ian and Wanderer until Jared "got on [her] last nerve", and Ian "refused to be ignored".[5]

The title "The Host" comes from the perspective of the main character, Wanderer, because her "host" Melanie forever changes the way she sees the world.[5]

Plot summary

Melanie Stryder is one of few "wild" humans - rebels who have evaded the alien souls that have taken over the Earth. With her younger brother Jamie and the man she loves, Jared Howe, Mel is on the run from souls who hunt down host bodies for use. Souls are creatures that rely upon host bodies to survive. After insertion, they erase any mental presence of the being there prior and establish a claim over the body and mind. Earth is Wanderer's ninth planet, and Mel is her ninth host body. Upon waking inside her new body, she is shocked not only by the vividness of human emotions, memories, and senses, but quickly learns that Melanie Stryder is not willing to give up the entirety of her mind.

Wanderer is bombarded with memories and her host body's yearning for Jared and Jamie, and finds herself in love with the humans and desperate to see if they are still alive. On a road trip to Tucson, Melanie remembers her Uncle Jeb telling her about a secret hideaway he once made. Wanderer sets out to find the hideaway, with a vague sketch of the path from Melanie's memories, and is found by Jeb on the verge of death, incredibly exhausted and dehydrated.

She is taken back to the caves in which some "wild" humans live, but is treated spitefully as they believe Wanderer to be a "parasite" in Melanie's body. Kyle O'Shea and many others attempt to kill Wanderer, but are stopped by Jeb. Given time, Wanderer, now becoming known as 'Wanda' (Jeb's doing), becomes a part of the routine by working, eating, and becoming an unofficial history teacher after evening meals; some even grow to believe that Melanie is present in her mind as well. During this time Ian and many other humans, such as Wes, Lily, Walter, and Mel's younger brother Jamie, befriend Wanda. Kyle tries to kill Wanda by throwing her into a river. He is unsuccessful and is about to fall into the river himself when Wanda saves him. A tribunal is held and it is decided that Kyle is allowed to stay, though many of Wanda's friends are upset about this decision, particularly Ian, who believes that Kyle deserves to die after his plot to kill Wanda. Meanwhile, Ian begins to fall in love with Wanda. After discovering this, she is confused with her own feelings because of the fact that Mel's memories caused her to love Jared, too.

When Jamie returns from a raid with an infected cut on his leg, Wanda and Jared sneak out to a hospital where she goes undercover to steal supplies to bring back to Jamie and the rest. At this point the humans realize that Wanda can be of use to them as a raider, because she is trusted by other souls. Following another raid, Wanda decides to reveal her biggest secret: how to remove a soul without killing either the human or the soul, a procedure that Doc had been attempting unsuccessfully. She promises to teach Doc under two conditions: first, he promises to send the souls to new planets without harming them, and second, he promises to remove Wanda's soul from Melanie's body and bury the soul next to Walter and Wes, because she does not want to be a parasite any longer.

Once Ian is asleep, Wanda sneaks away from him. He is enraged at the idea of Wanda ending her life so that Jared can have his Melanie back. She realizes that she too loves Ian. Later she sneaks away and has Doc remove her from Melanie's body. However, later she awakens in a new body, much to her dismay. She is then told that the original owner never established a consciousness in that body, have been taken over at birth, and it is revealed that none of the humans wished for her to leave. The book ends with the rebels, when on a raid with Wanda, discovering another rebel group who also have a soul among them. This discovery suggests that humanity and Souls together might still have hope for the future.



In an interview with Vogue Magazine, Meyer stated that body image was a major aspect of her novel. She noted that she is "very critical" of her body, but not others'. In The Host, she tried to convey "what a gift it is to just have a body, and really love it." This is something most humans would take for granted before being captured, and something that Melanie is all-too aware of once she loses control of her body.[6]

References and Sequels

True to Meyer's other books, The Host includes a poem at the beginning of the novel. The poem is titled Question, by May Swenson, and ties into the idea of the mind's reliance on the existence of the body, just as Melanie experiences when inhabited by Wanderer.

Potential sequels

In March 2008, Stephenie Meyer stated that a sequel to The Host was "almost done".[7] She said in an interview that, if published, the first sequel would be entitled The Soul and the second The Seeker.[8]


The Host was named one of the 'Best Books of May' by, and also received praise about its ending saying, "Readers... will gleefully note that the story's end leaves the door open for a sequel--or another series."[9]

The Host was also a #1 New York Times Best Seller,[10] and remained on this list for 26 weeks.[11]

Most recently, The Host was named #1 on Maclean's Magazine's list of top 10 fiction books in Canada.[12]

It has also received negative reception; it won The Delete Key awards 2009 for worst book of the year. [13]

In other languages

  • Finnish: Vieras
  • Italian: L'ospite (romanzo 2008)
  • Polish: Intruz (powieść)
  • Portuguese: The Host
  • Spanish: La Huésped (novela)
  • Indonesian: Sang Pengelana


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