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The Host; Stephenie Meyer – A Review

April 7, 2013

The Host Book Cover

A lot of people must have been very excited when Stephenie Meyer published The Host. I saw it, I groaned, and it was only on a strange subsconscious impulse that I even bought the book and felt compelled to read it. The blurb describes the novel thus:

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 has avoided invasion and 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.

Riiiiiight. What this blurb doesn’t tell you, is that for the most part, not a lot is happening. With a plot sold to you like this, you expect something action packed, and an empassioned narration. What you actually get is something very bland, with no real sense of time passing, no real sense of the sort of emotion you’d expect from a first person narration, and no real climax for the novel to build up to. Everything happens in a very expected, measured way, and that makes this book pretty dull. The love triangle isn’t even what you’d expect. I was hoping for a lot of inner conflict as Melanie fights against Wanderer for Jared’s affections, but it just doesn’t really happen. Jared is fixed from the beginning on Melanie, even though she’s basically a body inhabited by someone else for the most part of the novel, and she on him. The only feelings Wanderer really has for Jared are through Melanie, through her memories and the residual feelings contact with Jared evokes in her. Then you get Ian, another human in the rebel cell to which Jared belongs, who falls in love with Wanderer, the ‘soul’, not the body she inhabits, and that’s where the complications arise. Wanderer and Melanie both inhabit the same body, but love different men. How do you get round that one? What ensues is a lot of Jared and Ian squabbling over who looks after the Melanie/Wanderer combo, without the Melanie/Wanderer combo really doing much to make a decision either way and not encouraging either man. It’s frustratingly dull.

The epilogue bothers me, too. I can’t decide whether it was tagged on in anticipation of demand for sequels, or whether it was a poor attempt at rounding the novel off super neatly. I suspect the former, mostly because if the latter were true it really would be too painful to get through!

The most worrying thing for me, though, is that this book has already been adapted into a film and released, and I’m really struggling to find in my head something more dull I can imagine myself spending 2 and a half hours of my life doing. I haven’t seen much (0r any…) publicity for it, so I imagine that’s probably how other people feel about it too. That said I’ll probably still watch it, punishing though it will likely be, just to see what they can do with it.

Overall, after the phenomenal success of the Twilight saga, this book is a massive let-down. The only reason it’s entitled to the caption “The International Bestseller” is because it’s been riding on the back of the fame of Stephenie Meyer’s other writing. If it weren’t for that, I can’t imagine that it’d ever achieve all that much. I was very disappointed. If you’re looking for a simple, uninvolved read for a holiday or something like that, it might do, especially since it’s set in a hot desert, but otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 8, 2013 10:26 am

    It tried to read this several times and failed, it did just seem so dull and the concept was hard to figure out. But then I saw the film (I usually like to get the book read first) and tried the book afterwards and I loved it. It is slow but I found it a much better read than The Saga. The characters are better, it’s better written and you can really tell that Stephenie is more comfortable with Science Fiction than the Supernatural. After the utter sappy misery that is Bella it was nice to get to know Wanda. I’d watch the film, it might surprise you. 🙂 xx

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