Monday, May 11, 2009

The Host

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown & Company, 2008
hardcover - 619 pages
recommended - with reservations

Synopsis from cover:
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 yearns for a man she's been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love."

I have not read anything by Stephenie Meyer before this and do not plan to read anything else by her.

It's not that The Host is bad, but it certainly isn't breaking any new ground. Many previous books have explored what it is to be human. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" stories are a common theme and abundant in science fiction. I enjoy a good alien invasion body snatching story (see Scott Sigler's series starting with Infected) as much as other science fiction enthusiasts. I actually thought I was going to enjoy The Host at the beginning, when it still appeared to be following a science fiction theme, but then it turned into a weird love story, and, well, that was just too much.

This should be classified as a YA book. It's supposed to be Meyer's first book for an adult audience, but it certainly reads like a YA novel. The writing and language is simple, the plot is very linear, there is no complex development of several storylines. Actually, I'm glad I read The Host after The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a far better book in comparison. It's not that The Host is bad, I will recommend it, but it just isn't living up to all the hype. After the beginning, the story slows down to a snails pace. I'm quite certain that Meyer didn't need most of the 619 pages in order to cover the persistence of love theme. It is an easy book to read, though, so you can whip through those pages quickly. Science fiction fans might want to avoid this one or be forewarned that it is more love story than alien invasion.
Oh, and the ending stinks.

Recommended for those who like tame love stories and can handle a little tiny bit of science fiction.

Edited to add:
My daughter, in college, liked The Host and would highly recommend it. I've asked her, when she has time (she's taking summer classes) to write up her more positive review. Look for that soon. Additionally, we're going to start the Twilight books and maybe continue dual reviews.

"The Healer's name was Fords Deep Waters.
Because he was a soul, by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous, and full of love. Anxiety was an unusual emotion for Fords Deep Waters." opening

" 'This soul was especially picked for the assignment,' Darren said soothingly. 'She is exceptional among our kind - braver than most. Her lives speak for themselves. I think she would volunteer, if it were possible to ask her.' " pg. 4

"The soul shone in the brilliant lights of the operating room, brighter than the reflective silver instrument in his hand. Like a living ribbon, she twisted and rippled, stretching, happy to be free of the cryotank. Her thin, feathery attachments, nearly a thousand of them, billowed softly like pale silver hair. Though they were all lovely, this one seemed particularly graceful to Fords Deep Waters." pg. 6

" I knew it would begin with the end, and the end would look like death to these eyes. I had been warned.
Not these eyes. My eyes. Mine. This was me now. The language I found myself using was odd, but it made sense. Choppy, boxy, blind, and linear. Impossibly crippled in comparison to many I'd used, yet still it managed to find fluidity and expression. Sometimes beauty. My language now. My native tongue.
With the truest instinct of my kind, I'd bound myself securely into the body's center of thought, twined myself inescapably into its every breath and reflex until it was no longer a separate entity. It was me.
Not the body, my body. " pg. 9

"But there were whispers of this: of human hosts so strong that the souls were forced to abandon them. Hosts whose minds could not be completely suppressed. Souls who took on the personality of the body, rather than the other way around. Stories. Wild rumors. Madness.
But that seemed almost to be the Healer's accusation....
I dismissed the thought. The more likely meaning of his censure was the distaste most of us felt for the Seeker's Calling. Who would choose a life of conflict and pursuit? Who would be attracted to the chore of tracking down unwilling hosts and capturing them?" pg. 19

"I know what they will realize when they return, the monsters who look like a nice couple in their early fifties. They will know exactly what I am, and the search will begin at once. pg. 32

"It would be nice to be alone again. To have my mind to myself. This world was very pleasant in so many novel ways, and it would be wonderful to be able to appreciate it without the distractions of an angry, displaced nonentity who should have better sense than to linger unwanted this way." pg. 48


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I tried this one but could not get into it, yet others have seemed to love it!

Lori L said...

I gave it a try because so many people loved it so much. It's off with my daughter now. Whenever she reads it I'll update the review with what she thought.