Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Here's the downfall of reading about nine books all at the same time--it takes forever to actually finish any one book!  For whatever reason, I have been in the mood to rotate my reading.  It's all good though, since they are all pretty great choices.

The latest book I finished was The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  I've had this since it first came out but was dissuaded from finishing it when I got bored in the first hundred pages.  That was a very bad sign for me.  I pushed it aside for something else and ended up not getting back to it until now. 

Synopsis:  This sci-fi read takes a departure from the vampire Twilight series Meyer is so famously known for to consider a future world where humans have been invaded by an alien creature.  This creature, who is planted/entwined into the base of their skull, takes on the body of their hosts, and in the case of the main character, that host is still very present and screaming in the background.  The host, Melanie Stryder,  has no choice but to share very emotional memories of a brother and first love she left behind in the Arizona desert.  This alien soul called Wanderer (or Wanda) feels compelled to go in search of Melanie's past and falls headlong into the human world and face to face with Jared, Melanie's love.  The struggle between what the body Wanda has been placed in feels for Jared, and Melanie's own frustration at having someone share these memories, leads these characters down a strange road.  Eventually, Wanda learns what it is to be human, and the very real physical and emotional power of love on said hosts.

Review:  I will never claim myself to be good with science fiction.  Although this novel is said to be an easy sell to those of us who are hesitant with the genre, I will admit to still struggling a bit.  In some respects, it could be that the deep sense of morality that the alien "Wanderer" or "Wanda" had just seemed strange to me at first.  Yes she was an alien, but her thoughts and ideas seemed so human-like as to make it difficult to see her as such a leech.  On the flip side, we knew immediately that Melanie was a feisty soul, since she continued to fight for her presence in her own body.  I loved Melanie and wanted her to have her life back, so the complication of having a moral and kind alien taking up space in her body really complicated the entire situation.

The first hundred pages or so really are a bit slow.  I have to warn reluctant readers that for me, at least, it was difficult to get through all of the set up for the society and hosting by human bodies that goes on in this future time.  The relationships in the book are well established though, with characters that are complicated and easy to care about.  Meyer does a nice job of complicating our expected beliefs that Wanda is the bad guy in the story and should be eliminated.  Yes, she has taken over Melanie's body, but could it be that Wanda is as much a victim in this story as her human host?

The different ideas about the value of life and relationships were interesting, and although I struggle with my own suspension of belief, I thought it was a good story.  It's not always my cup of tea to read survivalist tales or about alien life forms.  Who knew I was such a hard sell?  While not the top of my list of favorite reads, it was an interesting new one.  Oh, and I can also say that after putting it down the first time, that I've read it!

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based off of a personal copy of the novel.

What books have you started, only to put them down and not return to them until later down the road?


  1. Never! Once I'm done, I'm done.

    I take that back. I actually have picked up books I set aside, only to realize that my first instinct was correct. And this was a book I set aside.

  2. I do put books down thinking that, at times, but then I find it hard to actually pick them up again?

    I still need to read the Host, but I am not good with science fiction and it has kept me from picking this one up.

  3. I agree with you about the slow start. I really didn't care for all the playing house in the cave parts. But I loved the world building and thought it ended strong.

  4. I'm currently trying to read this myself. Except I keep rereading the same sentence and paragraphs over and over again. I'm finding with Meyer that her books don't tend to pick up half way through like Twilight. However, I like the plot. Reminds me a bit of The Outer Limits.

  5. I actually liked this better than the Twilight series, but I will never be a Meyer fan...

    There have been so many books that I have started and then took forever to get back to. New Moon by Meyer is a good example! Also, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. That comes to mind because of the blog tour happening for her. There are lots of others, but that's what comes to mind at the moment!

  6. Heidenkind--You're good. I just keep seeming to circulate the same books over and over again!

    Iris--Yes, I have that problem too. Sometimes I find that it's a year before I actually get back to them!

    Pussreboots--Thank you! I don't know why, but it just was a bit much to get the initial story down.

    MillyMarie--It is an interesting premise. I just wish it would have moved along. I do think this was an issue with me though, and maybe not so much of the book.

    Kailana--Interesting. I like the Twilight series, especially for how they got kids to read again, but I struggled with this one. I'm glad to hear though that I'm not the only one who puts books down! :)