The Host by Stephenie Meyer

It’s a joke between my sister and I that she needs way more sleep than I do. I try to get by on seven hours- eight if I can, six if I have to. Very normal. She makes it to ten hours and is still asleep. On a regular school night, she’ll get nine. And she takes naps. Emma is a cat.

That said, there hasn’t been one morning this week that I could sleep in. I survived the entire week on six hours or under, per night. I know that I’ve got readers who are insomniacs and get much less than that, but as I said, I am normal, and I like normal hours of sleep. Since I’ve been so tired, this week has been very long. The weekend isn’t a break, either, because of the cakes. I am getting very tired of the cakes.

It’s also been very uneventful. Most of my classes are over now, so when I’m stuck at school waiting for things to happen, I just have hours and hours of free time. It’s kind of really phenomenally boring. But not too terrible, because that’s reading time. And that was kind of necessary if I wanted to finish this book in a reasonable space of time, since it’s twice as long as what I usually read.

When I started reading this book, and I would carry it around with me everywhere (as I do), everyone had an opinion. One friend said, with a twist of her lips, that the last hundred pages were really terrible. Another just announced that she really liked it. One person couldn’t make it further than eighty pages before the sap got to her. The general consensus, though, seems to be approval. Even the one who complained about the ending agreed that the book is really good, even though Twilight was not.

This one was recommended to me by Val, who is not a fan of Twilight. The Host is about an alien parasite, a “soul”, named Wanderer, who is inserted into a host named Melanie Stryder. Generally, when a soul is inserted into the host, the host is squashed and fades and the soul continues to live their life in their body. Melanie, however, came from a group of rebels who had been fighting against the soul invasion (though “fighting” is not a very accurate word, since the souls don’t believe in violence). As a host, she was very resistant. She refused to fade away. Wanderer could hear her like a voice in her head, and worse, she was using her memories to influence Wanderer’s behavior. Soon Wanderer was falling in love with Melanie’s love, and caring deeply for her younger brother.

The story is that the souls can exist only in a host body, and can’t survive for very long on their own. Their species is extensive, and has in fact “conquered” (for lack of a better word) several other planets already. Their coming to Earth is fairly recent, but they spread quickly. Wanderer has been to nine different planets, but none quite like Earth. She has never inhabited a species quite like humans. She says that she’s not used to their strong emotions or their resistance. So really this book is an exploration on being human.

Souls don’t have a very high opinion of humans. We are violent, crass, untrustworthy, dangerous, and passionate. When the souls take over Earth, all of this goes away- there’s no fighting, no swearing, no breaking of laws, no cheating. They don’t use money, because everyone is trustworthy. They’re a species of Mary Sues. Perfectly pleasant people. Even Wanderer is like this, but it’s harder than her- she still has a human influence in her head. Over the course of the book, her vision of humans changes (especially as she soon finds herself surrounded by them).

This was a good book. And to keep things straight- I did like Twilight when I first read it, but I didn’t like the sequels nearly as much, and I pretty much dropped out when the fans started going crazy. I saw the first movie and didn’t care for it. That was my last interaction with the Twilight fandom. Speaking as someone who doesn’t think very highly of Twilight, The Host was a very good book. This tome is proof that Stephenie Meyer is a talented writer- as Val says, she’s a gifted artist who made the unfortunate mistake of publishing Twilight first.

On the other hand- as I was reading this, I was looking for things that could be better, as I don’t think I’ve ever done with another book. I had already judged Stephenie Meyer, and I was waiting to see if she could impress me. The fact is there were places that I found annoying- for roughly the last quarter of the book, I thought Wanderer needed to tone it down a bit. It’s easy, when you see something like that, to roll your eyes and scoff at Stephenie Meyer’s formula writing (there is a formula, you can see it- she does it much better in this one, though), but I tried my best to suppress this reaction and give the book a chance. It was enjoyable. It was worth finishing. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but you should give it a chance.

I don’t know what comes next. This week looks long, but all weeks do. Graduation is in four weeks and then I won’t have any demands to meet. What am I going to do with that?

For interest- Val created a fan trailer for The Host, using her dream cast; Sophia Bush as Wanderer/Melanie, Jensen Ackles as Jared, and Ian Somerhalder as Ian. Not who I’d cast, but she has editing skills so we’ll forgive her.

Published in: on May 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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