The novel The Host, written by Stephenie Meyer, employs a range of varying literary techniques to present an engaging post-apocalyptic world where humans are rapidly becoming extinct. Meyer captures the attention of the reader through the use of techniques such as imagery, flashbacks and characterization. Through these techniques, Meyer is able to present scenes, and develop characters which appeal to the reader, in order to capture the attention of the reader throughout the novel.
The use of creative imagery enables Meyer to establish the setting, while the use of metaphors and descriptive writing captures the reader’s attention. The use of a metaphor to describe the abandoned building as a tomb enhances the tension and increases the fear of the scene, felt by both the character and the reader. ‘An elevator shaft. Abandoned, empty, and condemned, like this building. Once a hiding place, now a tomb,’ (page 9). The narration of this scene is presented to the reader by the main character as she experiences a flashback; she gives an insight into what has previously happened to give understanding of how the main character, Wanderer, was to be placed into the body of the original owner, Melanie. The in-depth description of the attempted suicide by the character creates a sense of fear and highlights to the reader the setting in which the text in presented; also highlighting the post-apocalyptic setting of the text.
Meyer employs the use of flashbacks in the novel to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of the characters minds. Throughout the novel, Melanie offers memories to Wanderer as a way of giving an insight into her past, however also in an attempt to manipulate Wanderer. This enables Meyer to develop the text and present different plots in an appealing and engaging way, which captivates the reader. Both characters are one person, ‘My body- she was thinking! Speaking to me!’- However the use of the conversations between the two, private to other characters, helps towards creating an emotional connection between the reader and the book. It is through these conversations that both characters are at their most vulnerable and that the reader becomes sympathetic towards them both. ‘You can help them. You can protect them better than I could. She sighed.’ (Page 489) Both characters know each other’s deepest wants and secrets.
‘My body is human, I told her, while I’m attached to it, I’m human, too. And the way you see Jamie in your memories… well, it’s all your fault.’ (Page 140) This is an example of Meyer using her major technique of memories within her text to keep the readers interested; it is a private conversation between the main characters Wanderer and Melanie in her head. The use of memories, by Meyer as a technique, introduces the reader to a more in depth analysis of the main characters, Wanderer and Melanie, thus creating a strong connection between the reader and the text as they come to sympathise for the characters. It is a private conversation which other characters are not aware of and information/secrets are only recognised by the two characters and the reader, this allows the reader a deeper insight into the characters behaviour. This use of memories, in conjunction with characterisation, allows the reader to sympathise with Wanderer and Melanie.
Meyer uses characterisation to engage the reader, creating a connection between the reader and the text as the reader comes to understand and sympathise with the characters. ‘The soul shone in the brilliant lights of the operating room…like a living ribbon, she twisted and rippled, stretching, happy to be free of the cryotank,’ (page 4). This is an example of Meyer’s use of characterisation and imagery used together to have an extreme impact on the reader. It maintains the reader’s attention as the readers are able to use these techniques to understand the description of the character and what is happening as well. The imagery which is used is a simile; Meyer employs the use of this technique to express the beauty of the moment in which the character is being presented.
Meyer’s use of creative techniques to support her themes and characters is how a strong connection is formed between the reader and the text. This emotional connection is challenged on many occasions however ultimately, the audience joins Wanderer on her final decision; the decision to remove herself from Melanie’s body. The conclusion to the text leaves the reader confused and fearful for the main character. The use of the emotional conversations between Melanie and Wanderer on the topic of Wanderer removing herself from Melanie’s body due to guilt; this ending enhances the emotional connection between the reader and the text. ‘Don’t you want to be free? (Wanderer) A long pause. I wouldn’t ask you this…’ (Melanie). These techniques not only express Meyer’s post-apocalyptic theme but opens up the reader to an emotional connection with the text as they experience what the characters experiences and it is this connection which maintains the reader’s attention. This novel in comparison to past writings of Meyer’s, such as the Twilight series, has been constructed carefully with the establishment of creative techniques. Meyer’s plot also lends a hand in captivating the audience. I would highly recommend this to a weekend read.