Saturday, July 19, 2008

Book Review- The Host by Stephanie Meyer

So, I'm no book critic- really, I'm not- but I am an avid reader! I love to read, I love to think about what I read, and I love to talk to other people about what I read! so I suppose this begins another facet of our blog- Katie's book reviews!

I just finished Stephanie Meyer's The Host a few days ago. it was one of those books that I was really excited to read, because I wanted to see what this author could do outside of the "Twilight" series, which, although it has made her insanely popular, in my opinion, does not display the best writing out there. I was hoping she could break out of the "He's so devastatingly beautiful...marble skin...piercing eyes," on and on routine that, if we're perfectly honest, really does dominate the "Twilight" books and almost, almost, hides the story.

And that is really a shame, because she has great stories, with amazing potential, that she generally does a fantastic job of telling. The Host, for instance, tells the story of Wanderer, an alien "soul" who has possessed the body of a human girl named Melanie, as has become routine to the point that true humans hardly exist on the planet anymore. The conflict arises as Wanderer realizes that Melanie is still conscious inside her body, and Wanderer cannot escape some of the stronger feelings that Melanie possesses, including her love and concern for Melanie's brother, Jamie, and boyfriend, Jared, who are hiding out in hopes of remaining true humans.

Wanderer sets out to find these two boys she can't help but love. She finds them hiding out in the desert mountains of Arizona with a small colony of humans who have escaped being possessed by souls. The majority of the rest of the book takes place within these caves, as Wanderer tries to become accepted and trusted by these people who have experienced nothing but fear, sorrow, and loss at the hands of her race.

This really is a very good premise for a science fiction book. It involves strange, outlandish (but still thought provoking) ideas, and really delves into the idea of what it means to be "human." Wanderer's feelings show true human complexity as she feels anger and frustration, emotions that are not commonly felt amongst her own kind. The humans within the story are just as conflicted, unsure about how to react to the presence of a member of the enemy society. Most of them adjust, however, and one boy, Ian, even falls in love with Wanderer, loving her for herself instead of for the mind of Melanie struggling within the shared body.

The biggest problem with the story, unfortunately, is the way it is presented. Meyer's writing is incessantly repetitive, constantly re-reminding the reader of the same thoughts and feelings multiple times. It almost wouldn't be too much, if the book wasn't so long. Another writing issue arises towards the end of the story, when something happens that suddenly makes Wanderer's path perfectly clear to her, and leaves the reader (or at least me) going "wh-what? why does that mean she has to do that? where did that come from?" continuing for several pages, until you're sure you missed something and have to go back and check. And then, when it is finally actually explained to you, you think: "Oh. Well that isn't a very big deal. She should have thought of that before." Wanderer becomes completely obsessed with this solution, positive that it is the only solution and absolutely nothing can be done about it, and the reader is left to wonder where it came from, and why it is so inevitable.

In short, The Host is a good story that was probably dragged out a little too long, and that has a climax that falls flat. After the long middle portion of the book, in which too much is written and not enough happens, I was expecting a really dynamite ending, and I felt like I just didn't get it. It is, however, worth reading. Like I said before, the story will make you think, and while the characters may be somewhat cookie cutter, they have passion. Just don't expect a stellar experience. And for goodness' sake, stop calling Meyer the new Rowling. Ridiculous.

Grade: B-

Reading next: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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