The body snatchers are coming, but they just want to talk—to themselves.
Meyer, author of the Twilight young-adult series (Eclipse, 2007, etc.) concerning the latter-day adventures of werewolves and vampires, turns inward and cerebral with her debut book for adults. That is to say, her protagonists are no longer throat-rippers; neither is this novel wholly a bodice-ripper, even if it does involve a drippy, kissy-face romance and sometimes strays into the space-gothic genre. The problem for studly young Jared throughout is just who he’s kissing, since his beloved, young Melanie Stryder—echoes of The Fellowship of the Ring there—has been swallowed up like poor Sméagol by an extraterrestrial being who turns out to be, well, pretty OK once you get to know him/her/it. Melanie has taken a spill down an elevator shaft while trying to avoid becoming one of the pod people. Fortunately, the aliens have a good health plan, and the great and noble soul called Wanderer finds Melanie’s shell to be reasonably capacious and well-appointed enough to serve as a vessel. Yet Melanie hasn’t been wholly evicted, and Wanderer and she find themselves locked in an uncomfortable dialog: “I hate you, the voice hissed in my head. ‘Then maybe you should leave,’ I snapped.” Wanderer may have lived on six or seven planets—opinion among the ETs varies—and may have “been almost everything,” but he/she/it has never taken on a liberated American woman. In time, just as things start to get weird in the sci-fi world, Wanderer and Melanie reach an accommodation—at least of a sort. Who has to wash the dishes? Who gets to do the kissing? (“His tongue twisted with mine, and there was no part of my mind that was not invaded by the insane desire that possessed me.”) Stay tuned, earthlings.
A clever premise and competent writing keep this from turning into a pastiche, though after a couple of hundred pages, readers may wish that just one artery would get punctured.