Book Review: The Host (Meyer)

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

That's a mighty fine eyeball.

I did not like Twilight, or its three sequels, the last of which abandoned all pretense of following a story and spiraled freely into indulging all of the ridiculous fangirl fantasies that have accumulated over past few years. Nothing could ever justify Pedowolf. None of this is news; I know that I am not unique in my distaste for Stephenie Meyer’s most famous work.
With The Host, however, we have something completely different. While it is by no means the next great American novel, it is better-written, more interesting, and has more complex characters. Sad as it may be, I think that until now Stephenie Meyer has been talking down to us (and we deserve it for enjoying it). Nowhere in this book will you find a stupid quote like:
“Aren’t you hungry?” he asked, distracted.
“No.” I didn’t feel like mentioning that my stomach was already full – full of butterflies.
(which actually came from Twilight), and in some places it is downright lyrical.
Another common complaint is that Stephenie Meyer, as a woman, shouldn’t write weak female characters like Bella. And yeah, we as a gender deserve a bit more credit than she’s given us with that particular gem. Perhaps she wised up, or maybe it was a fluke; I don’t know, but the peculiar double-heroine from The Host is different. (A bit of explanation: Wanderer, the narrator, shares head space with Melanie, whose body she inhabits and controls.) Melanie, the human side of the duo, is often described as “strong” or “violent,” depending on what sort of mood Wanda is in, and though Wanda herself never once raises a hand in violence, and does contain elements of the weak woman, she eventually discovers a peculiar Ghandi-like kind of strength. It works for her, so I won’t question it.
Of course, no Meyer novel is a Meyer novel without a love triangle- though in this case it’s more of a misshapen quadrilateral, made very confusing by the fact that two of the participants are one body. Melanie’s “true love” despises Wanda for taking her away, even as Wanda struggles with her own affections for him due to the body which she inhabits, and Wanda herself falls in love with another man, who Melanie has to keep herself from sympathy-loving. Needless to say, all of them fight a lot.
This book is a fairly quick read for something of its length (just over 619 pages) and I’d recommend it to romance fans rather than sci-fi buffs, despite its out-there technology and aliens. Twilight fanatics: look, read this. There are better books out there, and this one even has your messiah’s name on the cover. Four stars.


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