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Dear Friend,

This past week we read dystopian fiction. This is one genre for which I have a deep love, and was more than excited to reread Stephanie Meyer’s “The Host” and pick up, for the first time “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. Actually, I was afraid that I would hate Ender’s Game… but loved it before five minutes had passed, so no worries there. You see I had heard rumors about this book about how it’s about this boy who gets caught up in this game and can’t get out… my mind went straight to movies like Jumanji and I felt nervous about entering the world of some life-changing board game. So imagine my surprise, and delight, when I began to read and discovered that this rumor about a game you can’t get out of was a rather distorted depiction of Ender’s Game. Yes, there is a “game” of sorts, but I promise that it is NOTHING like Jumanji, and is presented with much more skill than I could have foreseen. In fact I have put it on the list of my favorite books, because it’s well worth the read.

The Host also has a bit of a reputation, but this time, not for the content, but of the author. People tend to get stuck on the fact that they don’t particularly like the Twilight Saga, and then compare it (the Twilight Saga) to books that are of, what I consider, a higher level of craft (HP, LOTR, etc.) in the collection of fantastical “long books” for younger readers. But I cannot deny that Stephanie Meyer has an amazing imagination. Yes, we criticize her for having “sparkly vampires” but who else in the world would have thought of that? Not me… Anywhoo, all of that being said, I appreciate The Host far more than I do the Twilight Saga. There are some much deeper themes running through this book regarding violence, love, trust,  and humanity. This time, Meyer doesn’t have a character who is going to fall apart emotionally if her boyfriend isn’t with her, but one that fights for herself and those she loves. Even when her body has been taken over by a “soul,” she refuses to disappear and give up.

The first time I read this book, I read for the plot, the twists and turns that Meyer throws at her characters, to see how they would respond. This time, however, I noticed these underlying themes that I mentioned before. Throughout the book there is this struggle in Wanderer’s mind about how to reconcile the presumptions she had made regarding humans and their willingness to kill each other with her experiences with those living underground in the desert. As someone who has grown up with a peace-making background, I found that I related to both sides of the experience. Yes, this is a world where violence runs rampant, our news, entertainment (movies, TV shows, books, etc.), and life experiences expose us to violence and the darker side of humanity on a daily basis, but there is good in this world. We have people who are willing to make sacrifices for those they care for, people who make it their daily work to care for those who can’t care for themselves, people who see the best in those around them, and work toward being their best selves daily. I think that what drives this book is how Wanderer learns to understand this struggle while beginning to understand the limitations of her own species.

Hope you’re reading too!

Love, Mandi Jo