Saturday, 10 May 2008

‘The Host’ – Stephenie Meyer (Sphere Books)


I always wondered what life on Earth would have been like after the Bodysnatchers had taken over completely (you’ve seen the films haven’t you?) I’m not sure if this was her intention but Stephenie Meyer gives her readers a pretty good idea… and tells a love story at the same time.
Earth has been taken over by an alien race that takes over the minds of humanity whilst leaving the bodies intact. Wanderer is a ‘soul’, an alien freshly implanted into a human host and looking forward to experiencing life on Earth. The only problem is that Melanie (the original owner of Wanderer’s body) refuses to let Wanderer take over completely. Melanie has unfinished business in the real world and Wanderer cannot help but go along with it. Wanderer/Melanie find Jared (Melanie’s boyfriend) with a group of other survivors, not only must Wanderer fight to gain the trust of the refugees but she must also work out whether Melanie’s feelings are coming through or if she is in love with Jared herself…
Stephenie Meyer has already made a name for herself, as the author of the best selling ‘Twilight’ series for young adults and ‘The Host’ is her first foray into adult fiction. At least that’s what the press release says, I personally couldn’t tell much of a difference. I’m not saying this is a bad thing just that maybe young adult readers will get just as much out of this book as they have done with previous books.
‘The Host’ is a long and meandering read, weighing in at a hefty six hundred and seventeen pages. Meyer seems to be of the school of thought where using one word clearly won’t do if you can use a hundred instead! The result is a sometimes stifling read where the temptation to skim read could sometimes mean that something important is missed. At the same time though there is something compelling about the writing that made me want to keep at it instead of putting it to one side. Meyer does a great (if long winded) job of portraying the pressure humanity would probably face in an alien invasion. The simplest task takes on a different dimension and I kept reading to see what would happen next. The tension is palpable and every word of dialogue is heavy with meaning. This makes the romance element interesting, especially when the ‘love triangle’ grows another side… Any romance is handled really delicately and this reflects the impossible situation that the main players have found themselves in. My pet hate, right now, in ‘romantic literature’ is the endless soul searching that each character must do and there is no exception here for ‘The Host’. While it may be a great way to give the reader insight into the characters, it sometimes doesn’t sit well when placed in context against the urgency of the situation.
Meyer also has a habit of pulling tricks out of thin air to resolve her plots. While I can understand that Wanderer has a lot of other stuff on her mind, to suddenly ‘remember what to do to solve hers and Melanie’s problem’ out of thin air looked like a big fat get out of jail free card from where I was sitting. Likewise the ending, although a happy one, came across that the author didn’t want to take a risk and gave the reader what she thought would make them happy. I think a sad ending would have made the romance all the more poignant.
Despite all this though I enjoyed reading ‘The Host’, while I don’t think I would read anymore of her stuff I’d recommend it to anyone who’s already a fan.

Seven out of Ten

11 comments:

SQT said...

Good review. I haven't read any of Meyer's work. I'm kind of overloaded on the YA fiction so I probably won't read this anytime soon.

You have bitten off a lot with the romance stuff lately haven't you? I hope you don't let Hamilton totally put you off the genre. Most of it isn't like that.

Chris, The Book Swede said...

I've been loving your paranormal romance week! Hilarious. I'm trying to think what I avoid that much that I could turn it into a feature by reading it ... hmm...

I have The Host, also. Not quite finished yet, but I'm feeling much the same as you.

Trin said...

"Despite all this though I enjoyed reading ‘The Host’, while I don’t think I would read anymore of her stuff I’d recommend it to anyone who’s already a fan."

...

"I have to admit that I enjoyed the book, but I don't think I'll read the sequels. They only reiterate what has been done here, or so I've heard, and while it was interesting this time, it would probably annoy the hell out of me the second time around. I've had my share of Edward and Isabella; I'll leave the sequels and re-reading to fans and those who have nothing better to read."

I believe we had similar conclusions :)

Graeme Flory said...

SQT - I thought I'd give the romance a go as it's something I'd normally avoid. Maybe I was unlucky with my choices but I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon...

Chris and Trin - 'The Host' isn't a bad book but it wasn't amazingly great either. I think there was a point where the story could have gone in a direction that made it great but the author chose to go in a different direction. Like I said though, I reckon her fans will love it :o)

SQT said...

Graeme

I so understand. I don't normally read it myself. But Hamilton is totally misleading IMHO. Done right, it doesn't have to be that bad. But you have to slog through a lot of crap to find the good stuff.

Robert said...

Personally, I loved it! I thought it was incredibly moving, well-written, and had characters you could really relate to. And while the novel is basically a romance instead of science fiction, it's not sappy romance and was tastefully done. I'll definitely be reading more of Stephenie's work...

CeM said...

I've been trying to get past the first chapter. It's a bit too long winded for me. Her Twilight series is a bit long winded as well, but far more entertaining to read.

I am halfway through the book. It's ok. I wish I could like it more.

Joie said...

I really appreciated your review! I couldn't agree more with your thoughts. I am an avid reader, and stumbled on to the Twilight series on accident last year and really enjoyed it. Every now and then reading a YA book is a nice break from the norm. I will say that I did not enjoy The Host as much as I thought I would. It was too wordy, and the ending was a complete cop out. I look forward to reading more of your blogs, once I figure out how to navigate this site. I can't figure our how to search.

Graeme Flory said...

Joie - Click on the labels at the side (sci-fi, fantasy etc). That should help ;o)

Kirsten said...

It seems as if Meyers is putting less and less thoughts into each book she writes. The Twilight series was the perfect example. If there is a sequel to The Host I won't pick it up. The story really went nowhere, the romance wasn't interesting, and the ending predictable.

Miss Impertinence said...

Thanks for sharing this review! I've been suffering from Twilight overload, and this book, while slightly less sensational, struck me the same way.
Thank you for providing an honest, but classy review!