What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Host by Stephenie Meyer


I thought long and hard about what book to discuss first on the blog. So I decided to start with one I know well, one that I've read over and over again. It became an easy choice after that, so I pulled my copy of Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" off the bookshelf and opened it for the fifth time.
The world seems to have caught Stephenie Meyer fever after the success of her Twilight Saga. But my personal favorite of hers is "The Host", published between the release of the 3rd and 4th books of the Twilight series. I spent the last few hours finding my way through a series of caves under the hot Arizona desert, with characters that I know well enough by now to think of them as friends.

That's the mark of a good book, right? One of them, anyway. When its characters are strong enough, human enough that the reader feels that connected to them. We cheer for them when they succeed, and commiserate when they fail. It's easy to do that when the characters are as well written as the ones in this book. But the characters aren't the first thing that strikes me about this book, not what has it listed as one of my top ten favorite books.

The basic plot of the story is that the human world has been overtaken by Souls, called aliens by the human resistance. These souls are intelligent and sufficient, but cannot survive without a host body. So they take over the human's mind, while the body remains intact. Generally, the human relinquishes the mind once a soul has taken over. But there are factions of "wild" humans in the world in hiding, fighting to survive. Melanie Stryder comes from such a faction when she is caught, and implanted with Wanderer, a strong and competent soul. Melanie refuses to relinquish control of her mind, so she and Wanda co-exist, thinking to each other, with Wanda controlling the animations. At first, Wanda feels it is her position to dig into Melanie's mind and find where the other humans are. But as time goes on, Melanie's human emotions infiltrate Wanda's calm composure, and the two set off in search of the people Mel cares for most of all, emotions that Wanda is startled to realize, belong to her too.

The first thing about "The Host" that hits me every single time I find myself lost in its pages is the sheer creativity of the writing. It's a new kind of story, not really science fiction, not really romance, not really dystopian...but there are elements of all these genres. It's unlike anything I've ever read. And I've read a lot of books. The whole storyline is fascinating to me, I marvel that anyone has the level of creativity to have brought this book from inception to publication. Anyway, another thing that drew me into this book and captured my attention was the complexity of the characters. Too often I find that characters are written with one dominant emotion, never completing a range of human emotion. This is too unreal for me to appreciate. But in "The Host", the characters are so real that you feel their emotions right alongside them. Even when it seems that Mel's feelings are in opposition with Wanda's, you can still understand them and want both of them to get what they want. I also love a good love story, and while this isn't the main idea of the book, it's well done. In fact the only complaint I have about the book personally is that the romance angle felt a little rushed. There isn't time to slowly fall, like with some stories where the romance is the main theme. I would have loved the opportunity to explore Mel and Wanda's feelings for the men in their lives a little more thoroughly.

Would I suggest this book to anyone?
A thousand times yes. You'll stay up half the night trying to figure out how the story will turn out, and you'll be thinking about it for days after that. Don't be turned off if you aren't a science fiction fan. This book is so far from science fiction it's in a class by itself.
If you do get a chance to read it, or have read it, don't hesitate to let me know what you thought!

Grade: A

Cheers, and Happy Reading!

9 comments:

  1. My sister, who is not generally a big reader, loaned me this audiobook. She loved it. It sparked her interest in reading more. Now that is what she does a lot in the car.

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  2. I'm always glad to hear when a book can pique someone's interest in reading! Have you had a change to listen to this one yet? I didn't listen to the audiobook, but rather read it. I wonder how the audiobook would compare.
    Thanks for the comment!

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  3. ѼI have had this book forever and was worried it wasnt good. IDK why I assumed this but I did. I will def put it on myⓣⓑⓡ list. No1 has really explained it like u did. It piqued my interest..Gr8 blog ⓑⓣⓦѼ

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  4. Yay! Thank you! I hope you'll like it, and I'll be interested to see what you have to say about it!

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  5. I read this book awhile back, when it first came out. I did not read any Twilight books (my daughters did) but I enjoyed this book immensely. I found the world building in the desert commune to be intriguing and I applaud her imagination. However my older daughter found it boring, so I guess it's up to the reader to decide. Rae

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  6. Ha ha, hi Rae! Yeah, you are probably right. It's definitely up to the reader on this one.

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  7. This book made me wish Stephenie Meyer would write more adult fiction. I love the Twilight books but this one is just on a different level entirely.
    You have a great blog and got yourself another follower!

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  8. Same here, Olga! I check her website every once in a while just to see if she's working on anything new because I think she really has a great voice, especially in The Host. Thanks for the compliment and the follow!!
    Courtney

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