Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host
Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown & Company

Publisher’s Summary:
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. But Wanderer, the invading "soul" who occupies Melanie's body, finds its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Soon Wanderer and Melanie-reluctant allies-set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

My Take:

I was reluctant to read another Stephenie Meyer book after the Twilight Series because I didn’t find her writing to be that good or her stories that deep. But, the movie’s coming out at the end of the month, the previews looked amazing, and the summary of the book seemed pretty interesting, so I gave it a shot. Here’s what I’ve come to decide about The Host:

It’s about 200 pages too long. The total length of my ebook was 601. Meyer tends to over state her ideas when she’s writing. She’ll choose the long way of saying something simple, and she’ll give unnecessary details to add word count to her story. There were quite a few times where she would over describe how the cave looked to her, or who was present in a room--all by name--or give us a play by play of just exactly what it was the main character was doing at all times. She did the same thing with the Twilight Series, so it seems she hasn’t necessarily learned to be a better writer, despite her fame and popularity.

I had two other big problems with this book, and they too, are due to Meyer’s writing. The character development and relationship development between characters was nothing short of weak. The book opens with the scene of Wanderer entering her host, Melanie. (This next part is somewhat of a spoiler, but you find out about it pretty soon in the book--within about 30 pages or so). Melanie is still present inside her head with Wanderer, and Melanie hates Wanderer. But then, a month or so passes in the book, we know this because Meyer says “a month or so later”, and magically, Melanie and Wanderer don’t hate each other anymore so much as tolerate each other. I enjoyed it more when Meyer showed how they went from tolerating each other to liking each other, later on in the book.

Then there are the love interests Melanie has. She has a younger brother and a boyfriend, Jamie and Jared. Melanie loves them both so much and Wanderer has access to those feelings and memories. And magically, again, Wanderer loves both Jamie and Jared, not because Melanie’s feelings love them, but because she loves them. And of course, this development mostly occurs during the month that takes place “off stage”. It’s cheating when authors use this method to explain development they don’t have the skill to create.

My other point of irritation was that the main character, Wanderer, was so incredibly weak. The beginning of the book, she was kind of a “middle of the road, sometimes I can be tough”, pretty normal character. Then when the true story starts, she disappoints, and literally curls up into a ball most of the time, waiting to be beat-up on because of what she really is. She never stands up for herself, always backs down, never says what she should say, and a lot of times, is a coward. I can understand her acting this way in the first part, but as time progresses, I expected her to grow as a character. Apparently I was expecting too much. Instead of evoking sympathy from the reader, Meyer almost creates a self-righteous weakling, with Wanderer’s actions. It wasn’t noble, it was annoying. And, she's so hard on herself all the time, the reader doesn't end up rooting for the underdog, they end up hoping someone will stuff a rag in her mouth and knock her silly (or at least, I did).

But, there was something I was very impressed about, and that was the love triangle or rather, love rhombus. It was not forced or instant or annoying. It was actually very natural and subtle and I wanted Wanderer to end up with the new guy and not Jared. That relationship, the relationship that really didn’t matter, was the only one I thought was truly developed the way it should have been. The way all the other relationships should have been developed.

And despite the generally weak characters, there were a couple I warmed up to, though they weren’t as developed as I’d like to have seen.

Some of you may argue, “Well, she must be a good author, all of her books were made into movies and she’s probably a millionaire by now.” And to you I would say, “Tsk, tsk. The outcome is not necessarily a result of the quality of her writing, but the salability of the idea.” Poor writing is still poor writing, even if it’s made into a movie or some publishing house pays six figures for a series.

Like I said, the movie looks a lot better, definite changes were made to the overall story, though. I'm hoping that the movie will add in what the book lacked (with a background song like Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive", how could it not, right?) But, I'll have to wait and see. 

Read more here: http://blogs.idahostatesman.com/meyers-newest-book-doesnt-show-any-improvement-from-twilight-series/#storylink=cpy

All of that being said, here’s the bottom line: the idea for the book was very intriguing and good. That’s what kept me reading the story (and also seeing which boy would get the girl, because up until the very end, you really have no idea), and it’s not a bad way to spend the afternoon, you just have to get past all the filler Meyer puts in and see the story for what it is: unique and one of a kind. I did like it, despite the small annoyances I found. 

Happy reading, my friends!


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