The Host

The Host - Stephenie Meyer I read The Host after reading the Twilight series - I actually really enjoyed it in comparison. While it still won't make my list of favourite books, I'm willing to re-read it, and that's what matters to me.

Reread 17/11/2012

While absolutely not even close to the best science fiction I've ever read, I nonetheless enjoy The Host as a simple, casual read. I'll start with the cons I listed in my notebook, as they outweigh the pros IMO:

Romance really annoys me, no matter what the setting is. There's very few exceptions to this. Granted, I can appreciate it if it's well done, but I don't necessarily enjoy it or search for it in a story. The Host reminded me very much why I don't really like it - the initial romance between Mel and Jared, for example, pops up out of pretty much nowhere. It was a 'hey you're a woman, hey I'm a man LET'S MAKE OUT NOW' sort of deal, and it never felt authentic to me. Just really choppy and awkward.

It sort of carries through when Wanderer inhabits Mel's body and she also begins to have these feelings forced upon her. I was (and still sort of am) kind of confused about how the whole emotions affecting the soul thing was working, and the whole thing felt really...just thin, or at least underdeveloped.

Mel (while inhabited by Wanderer) also couldn't settle on any sort of opinion about Jared once they joined the rebels - one minute she was doe-eyed, insisting he could do no wrong, the next minute calling him out for being a 'pig' and totally wrong about something. Uh? It was both confusing and incredibly irritating, and I found myself sighing and reading through the bits that Mel pops up when Jared is around quickly, just to get it over and done with.

The introduction of the fellow rebel caste right at the end of the book is so sudden and rushed that it felt like a last minute addition, maybe as some sort of plot-turn to hook people into thinking they'll be a sequel, just in case. It seemed pointless to me.

All in all, I found the majority of the characters as flat as hell. Nothing stood out about the three main guys - Jamie, Jared, Ian - and Mel/Wanderer were both just kind of boring. Mel's hot temper was a nice balance for her character, but of course, we never really got to see it in anything more than her shouting at Wanda for one reason or another. It would've been nicer to see what sort of trouble it could've gotten them into, if only to push along some sort of character development for somebody. The only character I can truly say I really enjoyed was Jeb, and he seemed to just melt away into the background in the second half of the book.

And one more, minor little thing that made me want to pull my hair out - Jamie's infection, when his leg gets cut. They're so busy going on and on about not having antibiotics to treat it, yet it's mentioned not even pages before that they have honey. Which is antiseptic and antibacterial and great for treating wounds. I don't want to assume they had salt as well - another way to treat an infection. Doc should've known this, and it annoyed the hell out of me for the rest of the book. It isn't hard to take a minute to Google 'home remedies for an infection' - if only to rule such easy options out.

As for the pros:

The quality of writing was neither good nor bad in my opinion - it was just writing to convey a story, which is not necessarily a good thing. Sometimes I felt like I was reading someone's homework essay instead of a book. Though, despite the flatness of it, I didn't feel it tried too hard to be something it wasn't. Instead of trying to write absolutely amazingly (and likely fail horribly in the process), the author stuck with her comfort zone and tried to make the best of it. It won't ever be in the top ten of great writing examples, but it had that at least.

It was interesting to see Wanderer learning more about humans as the story progressed. Again, it's not a super detailed in-depth analysis of the human nature, but it's interesting enough to see things written from a different perspective. Though she seemed to get a little extreme at times (bouncing between 'her' humans being monsters or not) it was probably what I enjoyed most about the book.

All in all, it was an okay read. Nothing special. If you're hardcore into sci-fi, you probably won't like it at all - but everyone is different!

The Host is definitely leagues ahead of the Twilight series though.