The Host by Stephenie Meyer

hostOur world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining “wild” humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie’s thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer’s mind with visions of the man Melanie loves – Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing.

I’ve heard repeatedly that The Host is “science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction.” Well, I don’t like science fiction, so I considered myself a part of the target audience and I checked it out of the library. And you know what, I liked it.

Sure, I struggled in the beginning to get into the story and I certainly do think The Host could have been shorter by a hundred or so pages. {I actually got a hand cramp from trying to hold this book open towards the end.} But it quickly picks up speed. The last two hundred or so pages are the best part of this novel, but overall the story kept me engaged and I sped through it pretty quickly.

“But I’d never looked at the situation from the body’s perspective before; no other planet had forced me to. A body that didn’t function right was quickly and painlessly disposed of because it was as useless as a car that could not run. What was the point f keeping it around? There were conditions of the mind, too, that made a body unusable: dangerous mental addictions, malevolent yearnings, things that could not be healed and made the body unsafe to others. Or,  of course, a mind with a will too strong to be erased.” (pg. 286)

Meyer did a better job of developing more likable and well-developed characters than her other books, although she did under-develop Maggie, Sharon, and Jared to a degree. Creativity was at the forefront of this novel; I especially enjoyed all of planets Wanderer – later dubbed Wanda – taught about. I think she did a fantastic job of showing how complex the problem was and how muddle the lines between right and wrong became.

“But what if it were you?” Ian asked in little more than a whisper. “What if you were stuffed in a human body and let loose on the planet, only to find yourself lost among your own kind? What if you were such a good…person that you tried to save the life you’d taken, that you almost died trying to get her back to her family? What if you then found yourself surrounded by violent aliens who hated you and hurt you and tried to murder you, over and over again?” his voice faltered momentarily. “What if you just kept doing whatever you could to save and heal these people despite that? Wouldn’t you deserve a life, too? Wouldn’t you have earned that much?” (pg. 384)

My biggest complaint was that the ending was so painfully obvious. I pretty much figured out exactly how things were going to be wrapped up by quarter mark. I didn’t like how Wanda lies about her age, but I’m realizing that’s a common theme in Meyer’s books. The love triangle started to become a little grating towards the end, but I could forgive it. Really, it’s just how obvious the ending is that annoyed me.

On a side note, though, I really don’t see how The Host is adult literature. Twilight was way more graphic – especially in Breaking Dawn – and certainly had more sexual tension. One could even argue that the kisses in Twilight were much more descriptive than in The Host.

coffee-book-discussionQuestions from Coffee & A Book Discussion Carnival, which is hosted by American Bibliophile.

Would you classify The Host as a dystopian read? Why or why not? If so, how would you compare it to other dystopian novels?

Oh, yes. When you start to dig deeper into novel, it’s quite obvious that this is a dystopian read. Wanderer says that humans were violent creatures and the aliens aren’t. One of the resistance fighters says they knew something was up when pedophiles and murders started lining up to turn themselves in. I haven’t read many dystopian novels, but The Giver comes to mind. I read it in seventh grade and was so distraught over the story. I can see a couple of parallels in The Host and The Giver. Jonas is given the gift of seeing every thing – colors, emotions, pain – that others in his society cannot as a way to protect and “save” their society. Because Melanie still exists, still fights, Wanderer can see the murder committed and the pain caused by the aliens as they try to “save” Earth.

What do you think Meyer is trying to say about Christianity and religion? What do you think she is trying to say about our society in general?

I didn’t really think about what Meyer was trying to say about Christianity, although I did notice that Wanderer questioned if Walt would find Gladys in the end. But I loved how she showed that nothing is black and white, that everything is painted in a shade of gray. I already highlighted this quote above, but I think it shows exactly what Meyer was trying to say about human nature.

“But what if it were you?” Ian asked in little more than a whisper. “What if you were stuffed in a human body and let loose on the planet, only to find yourself lost among your own kind? What if you were such a good…person that you tried to save the life you’d taken, that you almost died trying to get her back to her family? What if you then found yourself surrounded by violent aliens who hated you and hurt you and tried to murder you, over and over again?” his voice faltered momentarily. “What if you just kept doing whatever you could to save and heal these people despite that? Wouldn’t you deserve a life, too? Wouldn’t you have earned that much?” (pg. 384)

A lot of people have speculated that those who liked the Twilight series might not like The Host. Why do you think this is?

It’s too sophisticated for them? There are no sex-starved teenage girls who have creepy vampires sneaking into their rooms? I jest, I jest. Twilight is a story meant to entertain and dazzle. The Host is commentary about both our society and love in general.

Was the ending satisfying for you? Why or why not?

I saw it coming a mile away, so I expected it. I knew they were going to replant her, but I liked how the overall conflict wasn’t wrapped up. If Wanderer/Melanie had saved the world, I definitely would have knocked it down at least another rating, maybe two.

Which characters did you find likeable/unlikeable and why?

Jared. I know Melanie was supposed to be in love with him, but I had a hard seeing it. It helped when he snuck Wanda out and went on the raid with her, but I still didn’t really like him. I loved Wanderer and Melanie, and I especially loved their interactions with one another.

What overall theme in the book did you relate to most and why?

How everything is painted in a shade of black and white and human nature in general. We’ll do anything for the ones we love, we get sidetracked by emotions, and we can come to love anyone when we give them a chance. The Host characters are no different.

Others’ Thoughts:

Book Mentioned:

  • Meyer, Stephenie. The Host. New York: Little, Brown and Company. Print. 619 pgs. ISBN: 9780316068048. Source: Library.
Book Cover © Little, Brown and Company. Retrieved: January 31, 2009.

Stephenie Meyer Observations

In reading The Host I have come to make a couple of observations about Stephenie Meyer’s stories. You can make your own conclusions.

  1. Her main characters have a thing for eyes.
  2. Seventeen-year-old girl wants to have sex with a hundred-year-old vampire. Seventeen-year-old girl wants to have sex with a twenty-six-year-old man. Sixteen-year-old alien lies about being “legal” in order to have sex with a twenty-years-old-plus man.
  3. Her main characters are head-over-heels in love with a man who fundamentally wants to kill them.
  4. Liar, liar, pants on fire! Her main characters cannot tell a lie.

Weekly Geeks: The Classics

weekly-geeksI’ve been meaning to participate in Weekly Geeks almost as long as it’s been around, but by the time I formulate an answer to this week’s question it’s time to answer the next one. I had almost given up on joining in, however, I’ve been thinking a lot about the classics lately after a conversation with my fellow bookworm, Melissa, so I couldn’t pass this one up.

“How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don’t get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!”

It’s always starting the classics that intimidate me. Once I’ve gotten past the first twenty or so pages I’m fine, but actually convincing myself to pick them up and read them scares me. I’m currently in the middle of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley thanks to my English class. This year I read Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy thanks to my English class, but I picked up Persuasion by Jane Austen all by myself. Last year I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

Tess of the d’Ubervilles is probably one of the easiest classics I’ve ever read despite being incredibly sad, so out of all the ones above I’d recommend it to someone who has little experience with the classics. And, of course, I’d recommend any of Jane Austen’s novels, especially Pride and Prejudice.

“As you explore the other Weekly Geeks posts: Did any inspire you to want to read a book you’ve never read before-or reread one to give it another chance? Tell us all about it, including a link to the post or posts that sparked your interest. If you end up reading the book, be sure to include a link to your post about it in a future Weekly Geeks post!”

Lynda, Chris, and Stephanie all inspired me to finally check out The Tenent of Whitfield Hall by Anne Brontë, Becky has me excited about Frankenstein, and Iliana reminded me to find my copy of Emma by Jane Austen.

Forever by Pete Hamill

foreverForever is a historical novel that traces the life of the narrator, Cormac O’Connor, from the 1700s outside of Belfast, Ireland to the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City. It’s beautifully written – descriptive and vivid in a way that you can feel, see, smell, touch, and taste New York City. And Hamill weaves history and fiction in such a wonderful way that I immediately devoured the first 400 pages of this 600+ plus novel.

But then there’s a break in the flow as Cormac’s story jumps from American Revolution to the days of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. And then – only a mere forty pages later – Cormac is pointing out the absurdity of the Y2K anxieties. The break stuck with me even after the story returned to it’s previous perfect flow and I was unable to let it do.

I loved how Hamill presented New York as a living, breathing person rather than a place, especially since there is now where in the world like Manhattan. The first one hundred pages are about Ireland and Cormac’s Celtic roots, but Hamill intertwines the Irish into New York in the same manner as they did as immigrants – slowly, but surely.

Living forever means Cormac interacts with so many historical and famous characters – Washington, Boss Tweed – and throws himself into famous moments in New York City and American history – the American Revolution, the race between Hearst and Pulitzer, 9/11. And, as a forewarning, Cormac living forever also means he spends most of his life obsessing over and avenging his parents’ deaths.

I was somewhat disappointed with the ending, but I don’t think it completely detracts from the novel like the time jump does. Ignore the last eleven sentences of Forever and you’ll possibly avoid the disappointment.

Still, Forever is a vivid, unique story that portrays an extremely unique city in a spectacular way. It’s not without it’s disappointments but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Others’ Thoughts:

Book Mentioned:

  • Hamill, Pete. Forever. New York: Back Bay Books, 2003. Originally published 2002. Print. 613 pgs. ISBN: 0316735698. Source: Library.
Book Cover © Back Bay Books. Retrieved: November 17, 2011.

Booking Through Thursday: Electronic vs Paper

booking-through-thursday{Booking Through Thursday for Jan. 29}

First. Go read this great article from Time Magazine: Books Gone Wild: The Digital Age Reshapes Literature. (Well worth reading.)…

Tell us what you think. Do you have an ebook reader? Do you read ebooks on your computer? Do you hate the very thought? How do you feel about the fact that book publishing is changing and facing much the same existential dilemma as the music industry upon the creation of MP3s?

This throws me back to my internship at Dallas’ only and Texas’ largest paper. My editors, my editors’ editors, and the publisher of the paper were all in a panic because overall print edition of newspapers are down – way down– and they wanted to know how I, a teenager, get my news. I was in the minority as I still read the paper every morning and watch NBC Nightly News in the evening. The vast majority of my fellow interns read the paper online, got their news through Twitter, or waited for it to reach them via Facebook, MySpace, etc.

I don’t have an eBook reader, but I did fall in love with my Uncle’s Kindle when he brought it to Dallas. It could hold my 1,000+ page copy of Centennial {James A. Michener} in a more compact space than my copy. He can increase the size of the text – a plus for someone with Irlen’s Syndrome – and unlike a computer screen, it doesn’t have a glare – another plus for someone with Irlen’s Syndrome.

The glare issue is really what keeps me from reacing books on my computer. I can get quite a few of them for free through my library and there’s always Project Gutenburg for the classics, but I avoid them because computer screens kill my eyes after long periods of time. I have to wear my glass while reading books occasionally to cope with my Irlen’s Syndrome.

Part of the reason why I get so upset when people say newspaper are going to be absolute – at least, in print – is because my parents and I read the paper at the breakfast table in the morning. If we were to read the paper online, our breakfast table would consist of three laptops blocking off one another as we shovle down our breakfast. How cold and heartless. But reading is typically a singular task. Book clubs meet to discuss books but the only time I’ve ever had it where people are reading together – literally reading together- has been in my English class and I hate that. So I guess I’m not upset about the use of computers for books.

Yes, I love the glossy covers, the feeling of the pages between my fingers, and the visual showing of how far I’ve come or how far I have to go but, boy, do I really like the Kindle.