Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: May 6, 2008
I don't hate you. I don't love you. I am apathetic towards you. Although there is a slight respect in that apathy. I mean, you managed to turn a walk-through-the-gray-mud book like Twilight into a parasitic money-maker spawning three sequels (each worse than the last) and five movies (each *suprisingly* less mind numbing than the last--Eclipse was just plain horrible) and several comic books (recommended more than the actual books since there are less color-filled and pointless descriptions of Edward's eyes and body--you see it for yourself). I also heard there is a T.V. series in the works. At this point, I feel the need to congratulate you.
Enough about my non-fangirly-fangirl-ish moment, let's talk about your new-ish project.
I read the first page and was pleasantly surprised. Was this the same Stephanie Meyer of Twilight fame? You see, I had hopes for you, Mrs. Meyer. Twilight was your first book, and it was meant to be a stand-alone so I understand why it and it sequels didn't live up to my expectations. Believe me, I've read worse...I've also read better.
Back to The Host. I liked the beginning. I actually reached around chapter four or five before I lost interest. Then I started skimming. Before long I was skipping. Then before I knew it, I was flipping to the last page of the last chapter.
On that note, what is the obsession with Prologues and Epilogues? I don't mind it, I just want to know.
This book is geared towards adult? It is overly simplistic and only looks at the superficial effects of an alien invasion rather than moving the story in a deeper direction.
It is hard to read a book when you have no interest in the well-being of the characters nor relate to them. Some say it gets good about a third of the way through but, to me, this book was several hundred pages more than it needed to be: seriously, it's 619 pages of repetitive story line, flat characters, and predictable dialogue. The rising action dragged about 500 pages before you see a bit of climax. Bigger is not always better: this book would have been better had it been edited down to less than 300 pages. It would have saved trees too...and time.
According to a reviewer, "Science fiction should make you wonder, not wonder why books aren't written (and edited) with more care."
The premise is quite interesting. The execution is sloppy. The whole book is long-winded and repetitive. Everyone is either grimacing, lip twitching, eyes narrowing, growling, murmuring, hissing or doing that...in reverse. Overall, this book is more love fantasy than Sci-Fi. Another problem I have is that the plot has so much potential that is not carried through. The story did not seem to evolve, but was stuck in a monotonous lovesick daydream. The little suspense you build always whither away into a minor situation which always has an easy solution.
Here is another thing: the Souls commit genocide while taking over the worlds yet have such an aversion to violence that they can’t bear to see any other life form suffer pain but this conflict and moral dilemma is not addressed. It is ignored. Yes, we get it: the aliens are shocked by human violence and brutality but how can they stand their own hypocrisy? Are the humans they take over lining up at a booth begging for some unwelcome parasite to invade their life? No! They are being kidnapped, strapped down and their own souls nipped and tucked.
The humans are portrayed as monsters when they try to fight back, but the aliens are depicted as the perfect solution to save the selfish humans from themselves. At one point, the characters even state that maybe the human race is better off like that. Wow, after all their "rebelling," they are suddenly in favor of the extinction of their race? No creature would suddenly be in favor of its extinction.
Also, these rebels are not really rebelling, just hiding in some underground cave going out once in a while to steal.
Earth, mostly a cave (or was it an underground bunker?) on Earth. There might have been something about a desert, or that might have been my brain while reading The Host: an empty wasteland of nothing.
Brace yourself. Every character in the book is one-dimensional. Thecolored writes "the attitudes and mood swings of these characters are so undulating it feels like a never-ending roller coaster ride of "What the heck?" There is almost no reason behind their actions and emotions. It's as if Meyers flips a switch: Click, be happy, Click, be angry, Click, sulk for 200 pages."
Wanderer (Wanda): The main character. An alien. She is "a clichéd, self-sacrificing, passive damsel-in-distress." Several centuries old but acts childish. I felt she was too quick to throw away her entire life and alienate herself from her species. Throughout the book she is beaten up, threatened with death, starved by the human males she meets but still chose to stay. She is portrayed as being good, self-sacrificing, yet comes off as passive and immature. She is best described as "hollow, a shell of a shell."
Jared really hated her at the beginning since she is in the body of the woman he loves. He even knocked her around a few times...really, he just beat the body of the woman he loves. Then, after she risked her life for him and the others, he started trusting her.
I get that Wanda is suppose to be peace-loving, but that was stretched until it became unbelievable. She should have at least fought back against the abuse instead of falling in love with her abuser (Ian). The only redeeming quality about their love is that he fell in love with her through his current interactions without his judgment being compromised with any previous meeting with Melanie.
Melanie: The 21-year old human whose body Wanda is occupying. Lover of Jared since she was 16. She is the Host (well, one of many). She sometimes show up to have philosophical debates with Wanda, I think. I can't remember because I was half-sleeping by then.
Jared: The 30-year old lover of Melanie. Boring, demanding and cruel. He beats the body of the woman he loves. I get it. Anybody would be bitter over the fact that their loved one is now reduced to being vehicle for a "alien soul" but that does not excuse the violence. Then suddenly, even though this alien has proved herself non-treacherous and trust-worthy, she has to bleed for him to trust her.
Ian: Wanda's love interest. At first, she doesn't want to reciprocate his feelings because she's in Melanie's body but *SPOILER (highlight to reveal)* she does and gets a body at the end. He really did not like Wanda at first, even tried to kill her but, as the story drags on, fell in love with her. His love is based on his interaction with Wanda. I don't think he ever met Melanie.
Then there is Melanie's younger brother: Jamie; her Uncle Jeb; The Seeker (an antagonist?); Kyle (Ian's brother, tries to kill Wanda); and Doc, a doctor. Doc is the rebel's doctor and very interested in the "souls." He is important to the plot because *SPOILER (highlight to reveal)* he drags Wanda out of Melanie and puts her in another Host.There are many other characters but pick up the book if you want to know more.
The age gap. There is the older male falling in love with the younger female. I have seen this played out in Twilight and now in The Host. This book does it twice or thrice: With Melanie and Jared and with Wanda and Ian. In the second case, Wanda is in the body of a 15 year-old but lies to Ian that the body is 17 about to turn 18 so he wouldn't be so "traditional".
I actually do not have a problem with age gaps as long as everyone is over the legal age limit and mentally capable but, in this book, they are not. Wanda is pretending the body is older than it actually is. I don't see the relevance of her age in regards to the plot so why couldn't the body have been some years older?
Violence towards female character: this I do have a problem with. One or two scenes could have been justified, but when it happened several times, and some very gruesome, it got to be too much, especially how Wanda (the submissive female) just took it...repeatedly. Several pages were dedicated to this.
"'You are the noblest, purest creature I've ever met. The universe will be a darker place without you,' he whispered." Yeah...This would be more believable if she hadn't killed off half of the universe.
"Whenever any of the characters in this book were surprised, they would "lift an eyebrow", whenever they were angry they would "growl" and when they were annoyed they would speak in a "flat voice".
It also wasn't easy to differentiate which character was speaking as the author didn't make an effort to change the syntax for each. Wanda sounded like Melanie sounded like Jamie sounded like Jeb sounded like a teenager."
Other examples of scintillating emotionally charged description: "she winced", "he growled", "he said, narrowing his eyes", "I hissed" "I flinched."
Reviewer DC said it best: "Knowing that Twilight was not a literary work of genius, I didn't expect that from The Host. I did expect an engaging story. It was not. I would skip it if I had to do it all over again." The only positive outcome of this trip was that I borrowed the book from the library instead of buying it.
Now about the movie, I must say, I am not someone that would watch a film solely because of an actor or actress but this time I will. Not in the theatre but when it's available at my local library. I love Saoirse Ronan and think she would be fabulous, no matter the role. I applaud your choice in casting her. Hopefully, this is a pill better seen than read.
Mrs. Meyer: If the universe created is dangerous, let it be. If the characters might die, let them. Your readers will thank you and appreciate it more if you find a credible answer to these nagging problems than simply: "she's in love so all is well." Most people do not like god-like characters or characters who gain everything without losing nothing unless they are the villains.
Good luck on your other endeavors. I can't wait to see what you will do to mermaids.
Not My Cup 'a Tea. If you are stuck in an airport and your flight is delayed and you have no other source of entertainment, go ahead. But be warned, this book is extremely light (619 pages of it) read and easily forgettable. But that's just my opinion, you may let it influence you and you may not.
Read a summary first before committing yourself to this broken rollercoaster.
**Note: All quotes are taken from AMAZON reviewers.