Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"The Host" With the Most

I feel like I'm repeating myself over and over again every time I say that I won't include spoilers about a book I've read or a movie I've seen... but here I go again for the benefit of new visitors: I'm not going to give away any details about "The Host," the only Stephenie Meyer novel (so far) that has nothing to do with vampires.

Therefore, there's not a heck of a lot I CAN say about the plot of this book -- I hadn't read its jacket or any reviews or even a description of it before I turned the first page. All I knew was that it wasn't part of the "Twilight" saga and that it had something to do with aliens. What is safe to mention, however, as it is evident from page one, is that "The Host" takes place on Earth, though aliens have all but taken over.

Since I didn't know the story line before I jumped into this 600+ page behemoth, I was instantly captivated by the concept it put forth from the outset. That's why I strongly urge you to not seek out any information about the novel if you have even the slightest desire to check it out. I think that my enjoyment of the book was directly related to that fact that I didn't know what to expect as I made my way through it. Now that I'm done, I read a few reviews and was amazed that they all mentioned things that happened well into the story. Having that knowledge beforehand would've absolutely ruined it for me.

OK, so I'll stop my "avoid spoilers!" rant now and continue with my overall thoughts on the book because I know a few of you out there have already read it. First and foremost, I was very impressed by Meyer's writing this time around (until the end, but I'll get to that in a second). If I hadn't known it was penned by the same woman who dreamed up the now infamous human-vampire love story in "Twilight," I wouldn't have guessed it. Gone were the repetitive descriptions and the whining and the predictability of how everything would turn out. Instead, I found a truly imaginative tale that didn't succumb to "genre stereotypes," a compelling look at what it means to be human, and a complicated premise that I couldn't imagine being made into a movie (although I'm sure they'll find a way). Too many times in the "Twilight" books, I felt like a scene was written solely for the benefit of an eventual adaptation, and that bugged me. I didn't feel that way with this one -- it really made me think.

In Meyer's own words, "The Host" is "science fiction for people who don't like science fiction." I would agree with that description (even though I actually like "normal" science fiction as well). While I did enjoy the book overall and would definitely recommend it, I was disappointed to see some of the writing pitfalls that plagued Meyer's other works emerge in the last handful of chapters. She was doing so well... and then, as the song goes, "feelings... nothing more than feelings" became the focus near the end. Thankfully, there was enough action to outweigh my annoyance at the Bella-ish-ness of it all and keep me reading until the grand finale (which didn't necessarily surprise me, but was one of many endings I thought could have panned out, so it was by no means predictable).

It will be interesting to see what Meyer does next, especially now that she's scrapped plans to write "Midnight Sun" ("Twilight" from Edward's point-of-view). I was truly impressed by the creative ideas she came up with in "The Host," and I would think that if she could just wean herself off of the tendency to get all mushy with her characters, she will continue to churn out well-received novels far into the future.

Unless, that is, aliens really do take over the Earth. Then we're all done for.

- e


Mellis said...

I enjoyed The Host, but not as much as you did. The premise of the whole story was very unique and that kept me reading, but I think the book was too long for its own good. Meyer also still needs to expand her vocabulary. I think "wince" must have been on every page! I was also a little disappointed in the character she added toward the end of the book. (You know who I mean, e.) However, the book WAS entertaining and Meyer certainly knows how to write a good romance.

Heather said...

I really liked "The Host". It was such a unique story!