What do you get when you cross Twilight and Aliens? Alien vampires? Vampires that pop out of your stomach? Bad writing and bad acting? Well, you get none of these. You get the novel The Host by Stephanie Meyer. Ok, I guess that means you DO get the bad writing.
This book has been gathering dust on my shelves since its release in 2008. I got it as a gift, probably because I had read all of the Twilight series and it is by the same author. I had attempted to start it a couple times, but never got further than the first few pages. Instead, I ended up reading this book in its audio form, lent to me by a co-worker.
The synopsis: Aliens have taken over Earth. Not the kind we normally picture, but ones who are inserted into our bodies and pretend to be us. They turn the world into a pleasant place: eliminating violence, disease, and the idea of paying for anything since everyone is so trustworthy. The alien soul called Wanderer is placed in what is thought to be one of the last resisting humans, Melanie Stryder. But it turns out that Melanie is stronger than they thought. Wanderer becomes overwhelmed by Melanie’s presence in “her” mind, including her memories. She makes the decision to set out into the desert in search of Melanie’s lover, Jared, and brother, Jamie. She soon stumbles upon the rebel outpost set up by her uncle, and finds many other surviving humans, including Jared and Jamie. While at first despised, the humans soon accept Wanderer, and a love triangle ensues. Dubbed Wanda, she tries to make sense of her conflicting emotions not just about Jared and another man in the compound, but also about the choice her race has made to take over this world.
To be honest, I really love the concept of the novel, and I am not one for books about aliens. I find it truly original. The idea of an alien race that conspicuously takes over and then continues to live life as if they were humans is interesting. Meyer also does a good job of creating numerous other worlds that these souls have dominated, making the entire race full of depth and character. Unfortunately, a couple of the ideas are rather juvenile, such as the names for the aliens’ remedies: heal, smooth, no pain, etc.
This novel was pushed as Meyer’s first “adult novel.” However, the themes are too similar to Twilight. In fact, there were times I was reading this that I thought it WAS Twilight. For instance, because Wanderer has taken over Melanie’s mind, the memories and feelings associated with those memories come with. Which means she believes she loves Jared. Even after he beats her bloody and sees loathing in his eyes whenever he looks at her. Their interactions in the beginning often make no sense, and have a eerie similarity to Edward and Bella.
The story is told from Wanderer’s perspective, which is also similar to Twilight. Meyer seems comfortable talking only from the female lead’s view. I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, but there were times I wish we could know more or something different. It got a little stale. My audiobook version was read by Kate Reading, who’s voice was serene. This seemed to fit the character of Wanderer. However, her inflection rarely changed, and many of her voices were the same, rendering it rather bland.
Despite all this, I actually kind of enjoyed the book. Maybe it was because it soothed me on my rides to and from work. Maybe it was because I was rather taken with the concept, if not the content. But I am on the fence on whether I would actually recommend this to another reader. I, personally, think that Meyer is a horrible writer. Her ideas are new and interesting, but she manages to fudge up the delivery. This was definitely the case with the Twilight series, but I feel like she improved only slightly with The Host.
So how can I rank this book? I feel like if you are going to sit down and attempt to read a physical copy of it, I would give it a 5. This is mostly based on the concept and fresh ideas I felt were brought to the table. If you were going to listen to the audio version, I think I would give it a 6, simply because I find it requires less thought. This isn’t a book you will dive into and envelop yourself in the characters, but it is an easy and fresh read.
As a side note, every time I would go to type the title of this book, I would mistype and put The Hose. Coincidence?
On a personal note, I already finished Divergent by Veronica Roth. I am also still in the middle of Adapt and Heart of the Matter (audiobook). I would love to review Roth’s novel soon, but I will be unable to post for at least a week, which may give me some time to take notes and get through some of my other books. But it also means it’s time for my wedding. So wish me luck, and I will see you all soon!