Book Review: The Host

Hmm, a little behind on the times? Reading an author generally shunned by people who actually like books? Actually admitting to reading it by posting a review on my blog?

Well….. yes.

So here’s the thing: I’ve read all of Twilight. And I’ve seen all the movies, so you probably think I have the worst taste in anything now. But here’s the thing with me: I like to be entertained. I don’t always mind watching or reading something mediocre if it is at least entertaining. Now, I may be finding my entertainment in the films way outside the plot (shirtless men with tattoos, the awkward faces people make, thinking about twilight farts or the Hillywood parodies – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn), I am no less entertained for the duration.

But, all that to say that I have a starting point to judge Stephenie Meyer’s writing against–herself. This is probably the only actually fair way to judge The Host.

It keeps me interested the majority of the time. I lost a bit of sleep because I’d stay up late to read it. So yes, all in all it’s quite entertaining.

The attachment to Jaime is entirely understandable from my point of view. I have a much younger brother and the absolute desire to protect him is second nature.

And then comes the love triangle. Can no one write a book with a central female character that doesn’t involve one now? I’m kind of sick of them. This isn’t just me being cynical, this is that every book seems to have one. Twilight, Hunger Games, Snow White and the Huntsman (movie, I know)… thank god Harry Potter never actually developed one, although in movie 7.1 they tried to make a go of it. For once I just want someone to write about a female who no guy likes except the creepers. But I guess real life isn’t good enough for the books. And I do get sick of the girl gets the guy and vice versa in films. That never happens in real life. Unless you look like (insert famous actress/actor name here).

The plot would have worked a lot better without the love triangle, I think, and it gets annoying having to read the conversations between two jealous men, and then between Melanie and Wanderer. Mel’s all like you can’t have Jared he’s mine, but won’t let Wanda have Ian either. And Wanda getting beat to a pulp all the time? Boring. Although Kyle trying to kill her repeatedly is actually interesting.

The Seeker part of the plot is much more interesting to me. The middle part of the book dragged on, all the while I was waiting for that evil Seeker to show up again. I kind of felt like the beginning was rushed versus the middle was drawn out. Stephenie Meyer has a tendency to do that though, to rush the interesting things (or maybe I’m just reading really fast because it’s interesting?) and then dwell on the monotonous middle without truly pushing the plot forward. A love triangle doesn’t push the plot forward: it keeps it stagnant while we wait for it to get sorted and life to go on. I will say that this book is much more eloquently written than Twilight though, and Stephenie Meyer has a wide array of vocab she uses. However, her mormonism shows prominently in the fact that she is very chaste when it comes to physical touch or colorful language. And while this works to her advantage when writing from a female’s perspective (Bella, Melanie/Wanderer), I get frustrated with it. Just because we shy away from saying crude things doesn’t mean our mind doesn’t fill in the gaps. Everyone has a filter between their mind and their mouth for a reason. And then once the Seeker showed up again, a very interesting thing happened: the plot moved, and Wanda was forced to make a choice that would drive the rest of the story. Yes, this is why I wanted the seeker to show up again!

But once that is all taken care of, it leaves us with Wanda on her self-sacrificing mission to save Melanie. While this is all fine and dandy, it gets annoying at times. Although, I do like that Wanda set a fast time table for herself. Once she knew what she was going to do in regards to the seeker, she went on and made the choice that would also kill herself in order to give Mel’s body back to the rightful owner.

The ending is sugary sweet. I’m beginning to realize that’s Meyer’s style. She can’t not write a happy ending. If I were about 5 years younger, I would probably have liked the whole book much more, as I think her intended audience was between 15-20, rather than an actual adult audience.

I honestly would have preferred if the book had ended with chapter 58, with the last bit of text:

As I took another breath I saw three stars again. They were not calling to me; they were letting me go, leaving me to the black universe I had wandered for so many lifetimes. I drifted into the black, and it got brighter and brighter. It wasn’t black at all–it was blue. Warm, vibrant, brilliant blue… I floated into it with no fear at all.

With the context of things, this would have been such a poetic ending, and for me, the book felt complete here. That is the kind of person I am, I guess.

The last bit of the book, in the epilogue, is a neat twist though. I won’t give it away, but it adds that tiny spark of interest to let your mind play with an idea.

For as much as I’ve been picking on the book, I’ll give it a positive: Meyer is very descriptive visually. I naturally see things in my head like a movie when I read books, but Meyer gives me extra layers to work in there, bonus bits of visual anything and everything that create a fuller picture within my mind. She also is good at giving a hook into the next chapter, so even when you’ve been bored out of your mind in the last chapter, suddenly something exciting is happening and you want to keep reading.

Okay, over all I’d say that it’s not a bad book, but I don’t think it’s the kind to last more than a generation. If you have a fair amount of free time, I’d say read it, but if you’re on the busier side and don’t have lots of time for reading, I’m not sure this would make it anywhere near the top 50 books you should read list. I should probably make that list someday.

Guess I’d give The Host a C for a grade. Pretty average. Parts are really good and other parts are really bad, so it kind of evens out.

Also, I wanted to read this because the movie comes out next year and has my favorite young actress, Saoirse Ronan, in the lead role.

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