Melanie Stryder finds her body taken over by a parasitic alien known as a "Soul" and fights to retain her identity and reclaim her life while getting to know the alien that has possessed her. Melanie Stryder is one of the last surviving humans left. The world has become invaded by aliens known as “Souls” who use the human body as a host to give them life. Traveling millions of light years across the galaxy, the souls have harvested planets across the universe, taking over the planet's inhabitant's body. While the body of the original owner will lose their consciousness and who they are, the soul placed in the body, will always have access to their memories.
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While on the run for food for her little brother, Melanie is found by the Soul's military known as the Seekers. The Seekers pursue Melanie, who rather than be captured, commits suicide. Unfortunately, due to the advancement in medicine thanks to the Souls, she is revived and implanted with a soul named Wanderer. Wanderer is a sweet soul, with a yearning for knowledge of humanity, unlike her cold counterparts who are happy to assimilate humanity without a second thought. Over the weeks after being implanted, Wander is able to unlock some of Melanie's memories, discovering she had a little brother named Jamie as well as a boyfriend named Jared whom she loved very much. As time progresses, Wanderer grows to love them too. Unfortunately, Melanie's consciousness refuses to die and fights Wanderer for control, eventually leading to the two of them to be able to communicate.
The stress of fighting Melanie becomes too much for Wanderer, and she decides she would rather be placed into a different host body that is more willing to let her assimilate. On her way to visit a Healer, who can perform the procedure, Melanie awakens and shows Wanderer a series of images of her Uncle Jeb and begs her to seek them out, knowing Jamie and Jared are with him. After wandering through the desert for days, Uncle Jeb finds Wanderer on the verge of death, and even though he knows Melanie is gone, he takes her back to his hideout deep within the caves.
Deep within the caves, there are several families living with Jeb and they all demand that Wanderer be killed. Jeb defends his decision to keep her alive, even though he knows if she were to ever escape it could put them at risk of the Souls finding them. When the families start to riot, Jared intervenes, knowing that Wanderer is no longer Melanie but distraught to see her killed even if she is gone forever. Jared had never given up on finding Melanie and still loved her as he believed she had to be alive all this time.
Wanderer is put in isolation, guarded by two brothers who hate her very existence. That night when the others have fallen asleep, the brothers attempt to murder her but she is saved by Jared. Wanderer tries to tell Jared that Melanie is still alive inside her and was not gone, but Jared refuses to believer, saying he could never trust a Soul and demands Jeb keep her in isolation. Over the next few weeks Melanie is left in solitude but is secretly visited by her brother Jamie, who believes Wanderer that Melanie is still alive.
With supplies running low, Jared leaves with some of the young men to search for food and supplies. Due to his absence, Jeb lets Melanie out into the living compounds and shows her the grounds and introduces her to Ian, a young man who has taken a liking to her. Melanie's consciousness warns Wanderer to not fall for him due to this still being her body and it wouldn't be fair to Jared, but Wanderer is determined to make a life for herself. The people of the settlement give her the name Wanda, and she helps around the caves for weeks, growing closer to Ian, Jamie and Jeb who believe that Melanie is actually still alive.
A few weeks pass and Jared returns from the raid and is furious to find Wanda moving freely about the colony. Jeb tries to explain to him that Melanie is still alive, but Jared refuses to believe it and tries to kill her. Ian intervenes and kisses Wanda, which enrages Melanie enough to gain control of her body long enough to punch Ian, proving to the others she is still alive.
The following evening, Wanda is attacked by a friend of Jared's named Kyle while bathing in the underground spring. He attempts to drown her but she is able to break free. They both struggle and slip off the cliff where the spring empties. Wanda saves Kyle despite his attempt to murder her, and Ian comes to both of their rescue. Wanda is taken to the hospital and treated for her injuries and notices a section of the hospital is sectioned off. Ian and Jared refuse to let her near the blocked off wing, and both Wanda and Melanie grow suspicious of what they are hiding from her.
Later, Ian confesses to Wanda that he is in love with her, not the body, but her as a Soul. Melanie is furious with Wanda for letting things go so far, leaving Wanda unable to respond to Ian the way she wants out of respect for Melanie.
Days pass and when Jared goes out on another supply run he takes Melanie's brother Jamie with him. Wanda sneaks to the hospital to see what is being kept from her. She discovers that the doctor had been cutting out Souls from their hosts and the site of their bodies sends her into mourning, as she cries for the deaths of her fellow people. Wanda refuses to speak or see anyone for several days, until Jeb explains that the doctor had been trying to find a way to remove the Souls and keep the human body alive. Unfortunately, the procedure had yet to work.
Jeb also informs Wanda that Jamie has fallen ill and is dying from infection after being injured on the supply run with Jared. This awakens Melanie's consciousness and she demands Wanda help him as that is her brother and he is too young to die. Wanda finds herself in a conflicted place, but knows that the Soul's advanced medicine could heal Jamie. She talks to Jared and explains that she could get the medication if he takes her into town. He agrees.
While in town, Melanie infiltrates a Seeker facility and meets with a Healer, stealing the medication for Jamie. They return to the settlement and find that a Seeker had found the hideout and was currently imprisoned. Wanda cannot bear to witness a fellow Soul be murdered and bargains with the doctor, saying she will reveal how to safely remove of a Soul from the host, but only if they promise to let the Souls leave Earth. The doctor agrees.
Jamie is healed by the Seeker medication and Wanda shows the doctor how to remove a Soul, sending the one inhabiting the Seeker back into space. Stressed and disenchanted with stealing the life of Melanie, Wanda asks the doctor to remove her from Melanie's body so she can live and be with the people she loves. The doctor reluctantly agrees despite Ian's protests who reaffirms his love for her.
Wanda undergoes the procedure accepting death, but ends up awakening in another human's body. Jeb explains they found a body for her after they removed a Soul and the body never regained consciousness. Melanie thanks Wanda for never giving up on her and for giving her the gift of life back. Wanda is reunited with Ian and the two of them make their relationship official.
The group knows that it will be a fight to regain the planet, but also know that it is possible now that they know how to safely combat the Soul's threat, leaving a sense of hope and wonderment for the future.
Best part of story, including ending:
This novel was beautifully written and I loved the romantic relationship between Ian and Wanda. The two of them have such a doomed relationship because Wanda is trapped in Melanie's body, yet despite the odds they are able to be together in the end.
Best scene in story:
Wanda saving Kyle despite the fact he tried to kill her. It was a powerful scene as it depicted how Wanda was not like the other Souls and had a real respect for humanity.
Opinion about the main character:
I loved that Wanda/Wanderer was morally conflicted with the possessing a human host and allowed Melanie's consciousness to remain intact. She was a gentle personality, inquisitive and filled with wonder. It allowed for me as a reader to make a strong connection with her.