2 words that describe the book: Sci-fi lite
3 settings where it took place or characters you met:
- Setting: Planet Earth (mostly in and around Arizona), sometime in the future
- Wanderer is a “soul,” a type of parasitic alien that insert themselves into host bodies throughout various galaxies. In their physical form, souls look like silvery centipedes. Wanderer is a soul who has been in a number of host bodies, but she’s never quite experienced a host like the one she finds on Earth. In fact, the souls have been struggling with their attempts to take over Earth and make it into a peaceful, happy paradise. It seems that many humans are resisting the soul’s invasion of their planet and fighting back by any means possible.
- Melanie Stryder is the (unwilling) host for Wanderer, and she refuses to fully vacate her body, even after Wanderer has been inserted. This inability to fully remove the previous host from a body is a new development for Wanderer, and she finds herself struggling to maintain control of her host. But Melanie has a lot to fight for–her young brother Jamie and her lover Jared, who are still fully human and alive, hiding somewhere in the desert. Melanie is bound and determined to fight Wanderer with everything she has in order to protect and find the ones she loves.
- I liked how Meyer enabled the reader to sympathize with Wanderer by making her an eminently likable and noble character. The book is told from Wanderer’s perspective, so we get the benefit of her experiences and viewpoint. In fact, Meyer makes Wanderer so appealing and likable that you often find yourselves rooting against the humans who are fighting to resist the souls’ invasion of their planet.
- I liked how Meyer created a familiar world (almost everything takes place on Earth) with alien overtones to it. The story is told after the invasion of Earth by the souls, so we experience a familiar landscape that has become unfamiliar. The humans who are resisting being taken over by hosts live in a series of intricate underground caves, while the souls colonize the rest of the Earth but in a way that feels familiar but benevolently alien. (The souls have good intentions … they’ve seen what a mess humans of made of things and they just want to help out.)
- I liked how Meyer takes her time telling her story (the book is 594 pages) so you get to know and feel invested in the characters and their fates. My only complaint is that characters often don’t feel nuanced enough. They are either good (Jamie) or bad (Kyle), with little gray in between. However, Meyer does her best to complicate things toward the end–giving some of the more broadly drawn characters a “moment of truth” to further their emotional and moral development.
- I disliked how easily Meyer was completely able to hijack my reading time (again)! I know a lot of people criticize Meyer and scorn the Twilight books. But, having been sucked into the Twilight series against my will, I have to give the lady credit: she tells a good story. Once I started this book, I was hooked. Although Meyer might not write “great” literature for the ages, I think she is a gifted storyteller who crafts compulsively readable books. What can I say? I’m putty in her hands. (An idea! Perhaps Meyer herself is a soul who has taken over the collective minds of us host humans and compelled us to read her deliciously fun and addictive books!)
I’m giving the book 4 stars. Meyer has written a book that I think might appeal to sci-fi fans and non-sci-fi fans alike. Venturing into sci-fi territory for the first time, Meyer creates a gripping story that is really not so much about aliens but about humans and what makes us special and unique. Ultimately, I think that is why this book has broad appeal. It would be perfect for readers who don’t really read or like sci-fi as it has a strong emphasis on human characters caught up in a strange new world. At the same time, Meyer creates an alien invasion story that has all the classic elements of such a tale but infused with an emotional and romantic plot line that gives it a human heart. If you’re looking for a summer read that is simultaneously an “easy” read but also delves into some deeper issues and emotions, this would be the perfect choice.