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