Book Review: The Host
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.
Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.
When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves— Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.My Thoughts:
Once upon a time, a teenage girl who found it fun to poke holes in the love-to-hate-it book series Twilight found a movie on Netflix she'd never heard of. It rather shocked her to see the oh-so-famous name of Twilight's author across the cover image. In the first place, this woman was ridiculously famous, so how could this movie be so obscure? And in the second place, this woman wrote drivel, and this movie actually... looked good.
Well, Twilight's fun to make fun of, she thought. Why not give this movie a shot? Nobody says you have to finish watching it.
Except, after two hours (give or take), the name "Stephenie Meyer" was forgotten, and all this girl could think of was Wanda and Ian, Jared and Melanie, Jamie and Doc and Uncle Jeb. The credits rolled, "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons played, and that girl realized she'd never be the same. Because now, she was a fan of The Host. And The Host was created by, of all people, Stephenie Meyer.
She tried to erase the memory. She tried to avoid telling people about her new favorite movie. She tried, but she failed, so she bought the book at Gottwals and spent a whole week completely immersed in the massive, 600+ pages volume. Seriously, that thing is the biggest book she's ever read willingly, before or since. Anyway, she knew she wouldn't finish it. I mean, it's 600 pages of Stephenie Meyer, queen of drivel! Infamous author of sparkly, fangless vampires and shirtless teenage werewolves! The woman's not capable of anything even close to the marvels that was the movie. I'll bet all the best parts in the movie weren't even in the book in the first place.
Except. Except, she spent a whole week investing more hours in that book than her bed. Except, she tried to watch the movie again once she finished, and got soooo mad and HOW DARE THEY CHANGE THIS and what they cut that out?! I thought that was in the movie! Favorite movie, my foot, this thing's two hours of cheap teen drama.
So, yeah. Basically, this book is a masterpiece. I stand by my opinion of Twilight, but I take back everything I ever said about its author. I don't know what happened with the vampire series - a bad editor? A really long brain fart? An author clinging to a dream or an original plan at the expense of the story or her writing? I mean, I've seen it happen -- a story has great potential, but the author's too attached to a scene/character/concept/first draft/starting point to do what's best for the story. Or, since The Host came out after Twilight, maybe she's just come a really long way as a writer. Maybe she's learned a ton since that first book, and now we're seeing results in this wonder of a book. *shrug* That's actually pretty common. Whatever the case, The Host is as close to Twilight's level as a Da Vinci piece is to a school kid's art project.
The writing is, for the most part, beautiful and unique. I can only recall one or two pages out of those 600-ish where the writing felt a bit clunky. (Okay, there's one part near the beginning that had me rolling my eyes... but one sentence out of 600 pages is a pretty good ratio.) The characters are the best part of the book. I connected with Wanderer, the girl who just wanted peace, who wanted to do the right thing, who had learned and lived so much more than her peers in the same amount of time. While I couldn't relate to her at all, I loved Melanie, the girl who refused to stop fighting, refused to give up, refused to let go of life, as terrible as it had become. Of course I liked Jared, slightly stereotypical Hot Love Interest. (I think I liked Melanie+Jared more than I liked Jared.) I really loved Ian, the Boy Who Came Around, the Man Who Protected the Nobody. Not exactly hot, but so, so sweet, Ian was my kind of boy. And I'm always a sucker for the cute little sibling, although fourteen-year-old Jamie stretched that trope to its limits -- in a good way. (He's the one thing I *might* have liked better in the movie. Although they cut out too much of my favorite parts with him.)
The dialogue in particular was marvelous, and I think that's my main issue with the movie. Way too much is changed or cut in favor of timing/pacing/action. The dialogue in the book is so deep -- challenging -- probing. The book as a whole forces readers to think, to question, to wonder. Big ideas are raised-- issues of ethics, of what makes one human, of what right and wrong are exactly, of who gets to define or determine life and who deserves it, of the value of peace...
Guys, I just really loved this book. Read it. Five stars.
Nobody gave this book, or forced me to read it, or even suggested it. In the event that there's someone else out there in the same boat that I started in, let me do you a favor and tell you: Read this book! You won't regret it. Besides, every book's worth a try. Nobody says you have to finish it. ;)