COLUMN: 5 books you can't escape (But you can vote on them!)
Summer and novels.
They’re an all-American pairing and, this week, we’re going to talk about five novels that — better or worse — you simply cannot avoid this summer. You can’t walk through an airport, shop in a Target store, stroll along a busy beach or sit around a campfire talking with friends and not encounter at least a couple of these titles.
What are the five? Read the five OurValues columns Monday through Friday, and you’ll find out. I am going to list some of my own favorites — but we’re also going to talk about one novel that I wouldn’t touch!
You haven’t read these books? That’s fine! In this OurValues series, we want to hear what attracts you to or repels you away from such books. That’s true even if you haven’t read them. Ever feel frustrated that “someone” is shoving what passes for popular media at you — but no one ever asks for your opinion? You never get called by the pollsters.
Well, this is your week to be heard!
Here’s Book No. 1 That You Can’t Escape This Summer: The Host: A Novel by Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight). Instead of the Twilight vampires, this time Meyer turns her hand to science fiction and, once again, tries to break the molds in this genre.
What happens in "The Host"? The Souls have come to earth. At first no one notices, just the occasional mention that a loved one has changed, becoming more peaceful, gentle, understanding. Soon violent offenders are peaceably turning themselves in to the police. Headline news turns from stories of crime and war, to reports of reconciliation or a new park being built. Everything from mass transportation to the educational system begins to run with unusual smoothness.
The Hosts (those people who have been occupied by a Soul) peaceably do their work, earning no pay, simply collecting whatever they need at the store. Medicine is free, as is transportation. The U.S. has become the ultimate socialist state.
By this time only a handful of “wild” humans are left to be alarmed — realizing, finally, that an alien invasion has happened without one shot being fired. Instead of bringing war, this invasion brought something that may be even worse, a complete removal of free will.
The free humans fight the “Parasites” from their hiding places — in this particular story, from the mountains of Arizona. Their revolution baffles the Souls, who think they are building utopia, oblivious to the dystopia they have created.
What could happen with "The Host"? Here’s where things get interesting! Right now, "The Host" is a best-selling novel racking up huge sales. But, by spring 2013, "The Host" will open nationwide as the latest Stephenie Meyer movie. That means we will be seeing nearly a year of buzzing social media and pop-culture coverage of "The Host."
What could happen is that ideas from this sci fi story could wind up in 2012 political campaigns. Remember what happened with 1956’s "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"? Or, 1962’s "Manchurian Candidate"? Or, 1979’s "The China Syndrome"? Just imagine politicians accusing their opponents of acting like Hosted parasites?
Attracted to this book or not? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Think it could wind up echoing in political debates this year?
What other hit books or movies do you recall influencing U.S. politics?
ABOUT JANE WELLS: Jane is the Marketing Director of ReadTheSpirit online magazine and author of a book about religious themes in the Twilight saga of novels, called "Glitter in the Sun".