1. How does the poem “Question” by May Swenson, which appears
as the epigraph at the beginning of the novel, relate to some of the
important themes in The Host?
2. The souls are described as bright silver ribbonlike creatures with
hundreds of tiny tentacles. To some they seem beautiful, while
others liken them to “worms” and “centipedes.” Do you think the
souls’ physical form suits their nature? If you were to imagine a
different form to give the souls, what would it be?
3. There is an ongoing debate in The Host about the true nature of
humans. Wanderer refl ects, “The humans were brutish and ungovernable.
They had killed one another so frequently that murder
had been an accepted part of life” (page 47). Do you think this
brutality is innate to mankind? If so, does this make the peaceable
souls’ decision to take over the earth more ethical?
4. While most of The Host is narrated by Wanderer, Melanie occasionally
takes over the narration to relate important memories.
Why might Stephenie Meyer have chosen to tell the story in this
way? Did you connect more with one voice than the other?
5. The souls believe they are transforming the vicious human world
into a utopia. Is the society the souls construct better than the
natural society of humans? Melanie tells Wanderer that humans
realized the souls were taking over bodies “when the evening
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news was nothing but inspiring human-interest stories . . . when
everything morphed into Mayberry” (page 108). How does the
society of the souls on earth compare to your image of “a perfect
6. The souls are morally complicated creatures. On one hand, they
are “all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous, and
full of love” (page 3). On the other, they survive by taking over the
bodies and minds of unsuspecting hosts. Does the parasitic nature
of the souls overshadow their virtuous qualities? Did you sympathize
with the souls, or did you view them as the clear enemies of
7. When Wanderer is lost in the desert searching for Jared and Jamie,
Melanie tells her, “You’ve fi nally found the place and the body
you’d die for. I think you’ve found your home, Wanderer” (page
113). What is the signifi cance of “home” in The Host? Why has
Wanderer chosen to move from world to world for so many
millennia? Can earth ever really be home for a soul?
8. When Wanderer fi rst arrives in the caves, she refl ects, “This place
was truly the highest and the lowest of all worlds — the most
beautiful senses, the most exquisite emotions . . . the most malevolent
desires, the darkest deeds” (page 141). Are these extremes
inevitable? Are our darker inclinations essential to the richness of
human experience? Do you agree with the premise that more
purely “good” beings like the souls can’t experience life as fully as
9. The humans in the caves are divided about how to view and treat
Wanderer. Do you think it is more reasonable to extend kindness
to Wanderer or to ostracize her as a potential threat to the group?
If you lived in the caves, how would you greet her arrival?
10. Of everybody in the caves, Jared reacts to Wanderer in a manner
that is perhaps the most complex. Does the way he treats her surprise
you? What do you imagine is going through his head in the
fi rst days after Wanderer’s arrival? What instigates the change in
his attitude toward her?
11. When Wanderer /Melanie fi rst arrive at the caves, Melanie is eager
for them to explain their situation, but Wanderer insists on staying
mute, even if it means being subject to imprisonment and
abuse. Why does Wanderer make this choice? Do you think it is a
wise one? How might things have played out differently if they
had done it Melanie’s way?
12. While Wanderer describes many of the worlds where she has lived
in great detail, we learn very little about her birth world, The Origin.
How do you imagine The Origin? What would a world populated
only by souls be like?
13. Near the novel’s end, Wanda makes a deal with Doc. Do you think
she makes the right decision about Melanie’s fate and her own?
Were you satisfi ed with the humans’ response to her decision?
14. Jamie tells Wanderer he chose Pet because “I was looking for
someone who looked like you. And I thought this looked like you”
(page 605). Do you agree with Jamie? Do you think Pet’s body
matches Wanderer’s nature?
15. Imagine a prequel to The Host. Of the different worlds Wanderer
lived on before arriving on Earth, which would you be most interested
in imagining more fully? Similarly, each of the humans living
in the caves during The Host has a back story. Which of these
would you be most interested in learning more about?