I think I would typically rate The Host at 3.5 stars, but because I was so surprised at how much I liked it (and to be fair, I went in with really low...moreI think I would typically rate The Host at 3.5 stars, but because I was so surprised at how much I liked it (and to be fair, I went in with really low expectations), I’m bumping it up to 4 rather than down to 3. I really feel like I have to justify why I liked this book, especially since I loathed Twilight so much.
In my opinion, this is a huge improvement over the schlockfest that was Twilight. There is an actual, interesting story to tell that is beyond a love triangle (although there is a love triangle present: more on that later). And it’s a rather unique story too. Meyer proves to be a competent storyteller, even if her writing leaves a lot to be desired at times. She still has her sentences that aren’t quite sentences, which annoys the crap out of me. She still has her creepy, WTF scenes that masquerade as her idea of romance and love, and make me wonder what goes on in this woman’s head.
One of my biggest complaints, however, is that Meyer still avoids actual confrontation and loves the fluffy, happy, Disney ending. (Hell, even Disney might be more hardcore considering it’s not afraid to do things like kill off Mufasa or throw in a montage of a married couple’s life that includes me bawling for five minutes when we learn the wife can’t have children and then she DIES and it’s so depressing. Disclosure: I love Disney and Pixar). The whole book is leading up to a confrontation between Wanda and Seeker. And what we get is Wanda being a sad sack and then coming up with the perfect plan that fixes everything. (view spoiler)[Yes, Wes dies. But he dies off screen and to be honest, who gives a crap? We barely knew Wes. He’s just someone who lives in the caves and happens to support Wanda. But he’s not vital, we see maybe three scenes with him. And yes, Walter dies. But it’s of cancer. No one can control that. It’s not the result of someone’s choices. And again, we barely knew him. (hide spoiler)]
Meyer broaches some interesting topics, specifically about humanity and the soul. We have to wonder just what makes us human. What makes us civilized? And what is it that makes a person who he or she is? Is it the body, the soul, personality, interactions, relationships to people, reactions to events? Furthermore, the book brings up interesting parallels of how countries would invade another and take over, enforcing their ideas on the natives. The whole justification by the souls (other than they can’t survive without a host) is that humans were too violent and they were killing the planet. So they came in and they made it better. They made people better and the world better. Of course this is all debatable, and it’s not really better for the humans if they are trapped in their own heads or if they disappear altogether.
This book was already incredibly long at more than 600 pages, but Meyer made a mistake in not giving details and explanations in the area that really needed it. Wanderer is placed in Melanie’s body and she quickly realizes that the host is not gone. Wanderer, who has been to eight different planets, is supposed to be pretty hot stuff among the souls. She’s strong and she’s confident that Melanie’s presence isn’t going to be a big deal.
Fast forward a few months, and we learn that perhaps Melanie is just stronger. We get a few memory/dreams and the adventure starts as Wanderer chooses to go search of Melanie’s brother Jamie and Jared, the man she loves. Wanderer, at this point, already has very strong feelings for the two and she doesn’t want any harm to come to them. I suppose it’s understandable, but I felt like Meyer copped out by not showing us the slow change in Wanderer as she gradually came to care for two men she’d never met simply through the memories of her host.
It’s like the insta-love problem. You skipped all of the relationship building, all of the turmoil, the INTERESTING stuff. Plus, considering how AWFUL Jared is to Wanderer for the first couple of months she's there, I just don't believe that she would still sort of love him even when she's afraid he's going to hit her (yes, this is a very real fear she has at times). But maybe if we saw the development of her feelings for Jared, I could better understand why those feelings remain despite her fear.
But Meyer also proves in this book that she’s capable of writing a believable, growing relationship: thus, the third aspect of the predictable love triangle. This is where things get tricky. Melanie, who is very much still there, loves Jared. Her body responds to Jared. Therefore, Wanderer (aka Wanda, now) also has very strong feelings and responses to Jared. But, enter Ian. Wanda slowly develops feelings for Ian, who has slowly developed feelings for Wanda (Melanie, for the record, is not happy about this because it's still her body ... so, creepy, when you think about it). Things aren’t insta-love for the two of them right off the bat. Instead, Ian is one of the many who (quite understandably) hates Wanda for what she is, doesn’t trust her and even tries to get at her so they can kill her and protect the group. But we can see when Ian starts to change his mind; when he realizes that there is more to Wanda than a parasite alien.
But Meyer has to ruin some well-written relationship development with her incredibly twisted idea of what is romantic (she did some fairly creepy things with Edward-Bella-Jacob. Hi, tent scene and time when Edward offers to pimp out his wife). There’s a lot of weird experimental kissing and a juvenile pissing contest between Ian and Jared that is full on ridiculous because these are grown ass men.
I know there has been talk of two other books, which I’ll probably read, but I think The Host stands fine just the way it is. I like the ending as it stands. It opens up the possibility of sequels (view spoiler)[(I would assume that they would then focus on the rebel cells of humans and taking back Earth.) (hide spoiler)] but they aren’t necessary, and to be honest, they will probably be a letdown unless done exactly right.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)