Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hat-tip to Carl Jung

Warning: this is about Stephenie Meyer’s Host. If you’ve read it, you may keep reading here. If you haven’t read it, GO GET IT, you fool! (Well, it wasn’t THAT good. You don’t have to buy it or anything. You could put your name on the list at the library and wait a couple of months. But I think you should read it.) Although I won’t give away any secrets about the book, if you don’t want to hear anything at all about it, stop reading here.

Let me start by saying I AM NOT ACCUSING ANYBODY OF PLAGIARISM! Got it? Good.

Hubby was reading aloud to five-year-old from an Animorphs book (hey, I’m raising boys, OK? At least it wasn’t Goosebumps) and came across this passage:

If the Yeerks had a “Most Wanted” list, we would top it. . . . Maybe they’d do what they’ve done to so many humans: crawl into our heads and take over our brains. Make us Controllers.

A Controller is someone enslaved by a Yeerk, and they’re everywhere. They’re people you know. People you trust. . . . All walking around like they’re perfectly normal. . . . And once you’re in, . . . you walk and talk the same. You have the same memories. You still chew gum in class and toss Brussels sprouts back into the serving bowl when you think your mother isn’t looking.

Only it isn’t you doing any of it. The real you is caged up inside your head, helpless, screaming silently at the Yeerk slug holding you hostage.

Sound familiar?

I’m not saying that Ms. M. copied the idea. I doubt she’s ever read Animorphs. I’m just saying that her idea, which was so cool to read about, is a sort of universal theme. Possession. I’ve read other sci-fi books with the same theme, seen made-for-TV movies with the same theme (or am I thinking of V? Does anyone remember V? All I remember is someone tipping her head back, unlocking her jaw and swallowing a rat whole). Just because the idea wasn’t original to Ms. Meyer doesn’t make her book less interesting to read. Which is good for me to realize because I tend, when brainstorming ideas for my own book, to automatically dismiss any ideas that I think have been done before in any variation at all. I don’t think I should be so scared of telling old stories in a fresh way.

It’s interesting to me to think about why this idea of possession is so fascinating to people. For me, it’s even more fascinating that it used to be, now that I have spent some time in a body that is foreign to me sometimes, one that I definitely don’t want to be judged over. (How much of my personality now is due to the struggle I’ve had with my body? How much irritability, fatigue, lack of motivation is ME, the spirit inside my body, and how much is due to the chemicals racing around in here over which I have no control?)


Zina said...

I've heard Buffy fans say the Twilight series shares a lot with Buffy (I wouldn't know.) Ms. Meyer says she never watched Buffy or read any vampier novels, and I believe her. It seems to me that a big part of being a bestselling author is sheer chutzpah* -- thinking what you've written is fresh (sometimes from mere lack of knowledge!) and selling it as such -- and, hey, new generations come along all the time and haven't necessarily read or seen the old stuff, either.

Even in blogging (or maybe especially in blogging) I sometimes feel like there's ABSOLUTELY NOTHING I could say that hasn't been said before, sometimes a thousand times over, often by people who said it better. Then I just have to shrug my shoulders and go "Well, it's my blog, so I can say it again, but my way."

*Yeah, I know, there's writing ability involved, too.

Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury said...

Maybe the idea of Possession goes back to Satan's plan (which I think is what the aliens are basically doing in THE HOST).


They are bringing peace by forcing people to be peaceful.

There is also the idea that if someone is possessed, then what they do is not their fault--"the devil made me do it."

Which makes me think of Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde. I submit that Hyde was not Jekyll's "evil half." Instead, Hyde was a disquise (if the name isn't a tip-off, what is?) and that disguise gave Jekyll the idea that he could do anything he wanted without suffering the consequences. However, he suffered the very worst consequence in that he BECAME Hyde. It wasn't that his "evil half" took over, it was that his choices to allow his "natural man" free rein turned him into the kind of person who would do the depraved kinds of things Hyde did.

And, yes, I remember V. Had some great discussions about that show with a friend.

I thought THE HOST was a great book, too.

Darlene said...

Oooo, interesting thoughts, Kathleen.