- Series: Repairman Jack (Book 5)
- Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (August 18, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081256166X
- ISBN-13: 978-0812561661
- Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 65 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hosts: A Repairman Jack Novel Mass Market Paperback – August 18, 2003
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“Repairman Jack is a wonderful character, ultra-competent but still vulnerable . . . . Wilson strolls into X-Files territory and makes it his own, keeping the action brisk and the level of suspense steadily rising.” ―San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
About the Author
F. Paul Wilson is the New York Times bestselling author of horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, and virtually everything in between. His books include the Repairman Jack novels, including Ground Zero, The Tomb, and Fatal Error; the Adversary cycle, including The Keep; and a young adult series featuring the teenage Jack. Wilson has won the Prometheus Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Inkpot Award from the San Diego ComiCon, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers of America, among other honors. He lives in Wall, New Jersey.
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In this novel, Jack gets a phone call from the sister Kate who he hasn't seen since he parted ways with his family after his mother's death. It is an accidental encounter: when she reached out to Repairman Jack, she had no idea it was her estranged brother. She just thought that he could help her get her lover Jeanette back from an apparent cult.
Jeanette has recently recovered from a brain tumor, having been treated with an experimental virus. The virus worked but had an unusual side effect: it has linked Jeanette with others who were similarly treated into a kind of hive intelligence called the Unity. It's bad enough that Jeanette is seemingly emotionless, but her little group has the intent of spreading the virus and essentially forcing everyone into the Unity.
Kate is one of the first targets, and Jack, after trying to help, is second on the list. In certain ways, it is Invasion of the Body Snatchers, though the conclusion is reminiscent of another classic novel/movie which I will not name lest I spoil things (those who've seen it or read it will easily recognize it). In a subplot, Jack's attempts to keep hidden from the government are threatened after he performs a heroic act; this threat to his freedom needs to be dealt with, but is rather irrelevant if he can't save the world too. (There is a rather nightmarish chapter that shows what would happen if the Unity succeeds.)
Although Hosts works as a standalone story, there are references to other books that makes it better if you've read the other books. In particular, there is the larger story of Jack's run-ins with the Adversary (first seen way back in the non-Jack novel, The Keep). Whether this is your first F. Paul Wilson novel or not, however, this novel is a fast and fun read that should be enjoyed by most supernatural thriller fans.
The story of Hosts has potential but never quite lives up to it. Jack's sister is surprisingly bland and the infected lack the physical power to threaten Jack or the cunning to artfully trap him. I also found it odd that the infected didn't go out of their way to start infecting at least a handful of additional people. Instead, they put all their efforts into a plan that will lead to mass infections in the near future. While that plan is good, they know they are in danger and to ensure survival of the virus they should have taken short-term measures as well. Not doing so made it radically easier for them to be destroyed and they really should have anticipated that risk.
By far the worst part of the book is the heavy-handed moralizing about Kate and her lover. It turns out that Kate is a lesbian and the author wants to make absolutely sure that everyone who reads this book understands that it's okay to be gay. There are a couple of chapters that read like a bad after school special as the preaching goes on and on to make sure that readers don't miss the point. I didn't find the concept offensive, just ham-handed in it presentation and completely forced in a way that detracted from the story of the novel. If Mr. Wilson wants to engage in social commentary, I would suggest he learn how to weave it into the story in an entertaining way instead of just browbeating his audience.
This book was a disappointment to me. The best Repairman Jack novels such as The Haunted Air : Repairman Jack (Repairman Jack) (Repairman Jack) are truly outstanding but this one is far less entertaining. I would not recommend this book to newcomers and suggest that fans read any of the others before this one.