Sunday, April 19, 2009

Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

If you like Stephenie Meyer's writing but the Twilight series puts a bad taste in your mouth, The Host is for you. It was written for adults, and the complexity and realism reflect that.

The plot is taken from your basic bodysnatcher sci-fi story, but in this book, it's not about resisting the takeover. The takeover has already happened, and the protagonist, Wanderer, is one of the bodysnatchers. Unfortunately, the body she snatched, Melanie, is not happy with her. Then, to make things worse, Wanderer starts falling in love with the memories of Melanie's lover... and he may still be out there to find if they can work together.

The characters here have much more depth than in Meyer's young adult fiction. They have a certain intrinsicness, like they would exist without the framework of the story, and the breadth of the work allows for a deeper exploration of themes like sibling love and romantic rivalry. I also loved how both sides of almost every argument are totally understandable, and Meyer doesn't shy away from shades of gray. Each story question involved me totally.

At first the science fiction elements of the story were a bit eclipsed, but by the end I had the same sci-fi feeling I mentioned in my last review. The feeling that there are things out there that are totally other, but fascinating. And while many of the themes are stock sci-fi themes, they're treated with appropriate sobriety. The ending is amazing.

I like Twilight, but I have a lot of problems with Stephenie Meyer's work (or lack thereof). I've heard from some Twilight fans that they had trouble getting into The Host, which I take to mean that it is indeed a more rewarding read. It is her best work by far.

One of the best bodysnatcher movies I've seen is the 2007 release The Invasion, but no books are coming to mind. Recommendations, anyone?

Buy The Host


  1. Hmmm....I have thought about reading The Host but have not. I liked Twilight but want something that is a bit more in depth- sounds like The Host may have more depth.
    Thanks for your review.

  2. Good review...

    I too found the Twilight series a bit immature and disturbing (a strange combination, I know)

    The Host starts slow and so many readers might have a problem with it. But once you get into it, it's really gripping

  3. ibeeeg, sounds like The Host should be great for you. :)

    nishitak, I actually thought about setting down The Host several times in the first hundred pages. There's just something about Meyer's work that makes me uncomfortable. (There are a lot of things I could name, like the antifeministic aspects, but also some I don't understand. Probably more subtle aspects of her ideology?)

    I was glad I hung in there though because it was so much better than I expected. I just wonder why she couldn't channel some of this good stuff into the later Twilight books.

  4. I read somewhere that the author did not intend the Twilight series to be YA -- it just happened to be populated by teens and therefore the publishing establishment decided that it would be YA. Not sure of the veracity of this, but I thought it was an interesting statement on the publishing industry.


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