Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Host: HBIC Review from Emily @ What Book is That?

Title: The Host
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Page Count: 619 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown
Genre: Science Fiction
Copy for review was borrowed from a friend

50 words or less: Somewhere out there is a parasitic race that wants to be surgically inserted into your body and take over, kicking you out in the process. For your own good.

Mother always said, never trust a book whose first chapter is titled "Insertion." I should have listened, because reading The Host, which is this month's adult title for Blog with Bite (and all you voters who picked it, I'm looking at you,) was a lot like getting a chopstick forcibly inserted into my left nostril.

It's sad to say, but this is my second Could Not Finish review. I didn't even come close to finishing this book, not by a long shot.

My issues with this book started pretty much from the first word on the first page. The premise of the book sounds pretty interesting, but is never really articulated in a way that doesn't make me want to brush my teeth. Apparently, a race of beings that have no bodies or minds (minds defined here as basically receptacles for thoughts, feelings and emotions) of their own and therefore have to take over the bodies of others, which they do with entire planets at a time. As you can imagine, this doesn't sit will with the people who are still using their minds and bodies, thank you very much, and not everyone is content to just sit back and let some alien-possessed whack job saw the top of their head off and shoot someone else into their head.

For another perspective, and admittedly this was the first thing that I thought of when I was made aware of the premise of this book, I refer you to MST3K (of course) and the introduction of, at 4:34 herein, the "zucchini throw pillows." This is what I imagine the takeover of Earth must have looked like, if Ms. Meyer's account is to be believed:

Yep, zucchini throw pillows taking over the mind, enslaving the body, and hoping to extend their self-perceived benevolent reach across the entire universe, one planet at a time. The Host is 600+ pages of this.

Apparently though, there are still a few humans running around on the planet without a cranial roommate, and they tend to get rowdy when they encountered the folks who are possessed, a fact which the occupying overlords find incredibly difficult to understand, which just made them look dim beyond belief. For intergalactic conquerors, these guys seem to not know anything at all. About anything. Ever.

The story centers around a Soul named Wanderer who's inserted into a human host named Melanie. Melanie was a human who was captured in the midst of a suicide attempt; she'd rather be dead than be a host. This stubborn tenacity carries over after Wanderer is inserted because Melanie, rather than just quietly pegging out and leaving Wanderer with the anatomical equivalent of a fully furnished apartment, sticks around and refuses to give up her mind or memories. This sounds dramatic but in reality had all the intensity of two hermit crabs fighting over the same shell.
Yep, extreme crabby action.

So Melanie and Wanderer are basically roommates, sharing a mind and a body, and nobody is happy about this arrangement. You can tell, because there's a whole lot of nattering internal dialogue between the various factions where they snipe, snarl, and blather at each other until the reader is practically cross-eyed with boredom.

Then there's the whole Jared thing. I heard lots of remarks about how romantic this book was supposed to be, and how the tension between the characters (Melanie, her still-intact human boyfriend Jared, and Wanderer) was really riveting and unique, and my response to it was completely, unreservedly, and unequivocally BLECH. What is the deal with the old guy and the (almost) criminally younger woman? Why must this element be included in anything the author writes? It wasn't attractive or interesting in the Twilight series and it isn't attractive or interesting here. All it did was provide a stupid explanation for the lack of reproduction going on among the still-intact human rebels. Gross? Yes.

At this point, I had to stop reading. Life is too short to read bad books, and while I had low expectations of this book at the onset, I tried to go into the reading of it with an open mind and with the hope that I would be pleasantly surprised. I wasn't. I can't recommend this book to anyone, not even the most diehard of Twilight fans. The friend I borrowed the book from actually loaned it to me to see if I would like it better than she did, and I can now tell her with absolute certainty that if she ever needs a good doorstop, she's all set.

Overall Grade: Could Not Finish
Blog with Bite Review: 0 out of 4 stars


Discussion Questions
1. Have you read Twilight? How did The Host compare to Meyer's YA series?
I have indeed read the entire Twilight series, and while I will be honest and say that they are not my favorite books in the entire world, they were my official introduction to the world of paranormal romance, which has become pretty much my favorite genre. I have Twilight to thank for a lot of good reading, while I have The Host to thank for a splitting headache and a sour taste in my mouth. Enough said.
2. A lot of readers have expressed dislike for the immense amount of inner dialogue in The Host. Did you feel the novel lacked action? Short answer? Yes. Long answer? YESSSSSSSSSSS. I found the pacing of this novel to be plodding and incredibly boring. I wasn't interested in what happened to any of these characters or in how any of the questions of the plot got resolved. I would, however, not stop at expressing my dislike for the immense amount of inner dialogue. I would include ALL the dialogue in the entire book in my negative assessment. I try not to do things by halves.
3. Do you feel the ending hinted at a sequel? If so, would you read The Host #2? I didn't get to the end of the book because my brain couldn't take the strain so frankly I have no idea what the ending hints or doesn't hint at. I would not, however, read The Host #2, not even if hordes of weasels were hanging from my flesh and could only be pacified by a dramatic reading from the text. Not. Even. Then.


My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

I didn't pick this book so don't look at me..

Bethie said...

I borrowed the Host from a friend who didn't like it. I have to say, I enjoyed it. It was my favorite book in the world, but it was OK. It was different from anything I have read in the past, but it kind of reminded me of the old movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In Twilight, Meyer called the vampires parasites. In The Host she wrote about parasites. I have heard the the movie rights were purchased. How they are going to pull off all that internal dialogue is a mystery to me.

ParaJunkee said...

OMG Em - I spit coke zero out of my nose. And stop staring at me I didn't vote for the Host!

Emily said...

@Julie- Thank you. I'm sure I'll get over this eventually.

@Bethie- This seems to be one of those books that's got its strong devotees and people who just can't stand it. I really, really wanted to like this book and it just didn't happen, but I'm glad you liked it!

@Rachel- I live to serve. :D

Anonymous said...

HEY MAN I voted for Darkborn....but I did like the host.....Im sorry you didnt, but your review has to be the funniest one Ive read about Meyers....:D I wonder how many of those 50 voters read it.......(HA)

My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

yeah I wonder how many reviews are coming up for the host ...looking at the other on the site.

Oh I had someone from Goodyear AZ..thinking stephenie might be reading the BLOG with a Bite Reviews of the book. Just a thought.