This is the last one, I promise!!! It's a review/overview of the book, for those of you still trying to decide if you want to read it.
Stephenie Meyer's The Host
By Neal Wyatt -- Library Journal, 5/6/2008 9:01:00 AM
As Lewis Carroll’s Alice so aptly points out, "What is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?" Welcome to RA Crossroads, where books, movies, music, and other media converge and whole-collection reader’s advisory service goes where it may. In this column, Stephenie Meyer's The Host leads me down a winding path.
Have you ever read something and been simply consumed by it? Not doing what needs to be done, just skipping everything else to read until the book ends? That just happened to me with Stephenie Meyer’s The Host, out today from Little, Brown.
The phenomenally popular YA author's first book written for adults (or so the book’s PR says—teens are going to devour it, too) riffs on classic alien invasion motifs. The human race serves as hosts for alien souls. Once breached, the human is lost, subsumed by the alien’s consciousness. When Melanie Stryder is captured and implanted, she refuses to give up, fighting the soul named Wanderer from possessing her body.
The story is immediately consuming as it shifts perspectives between Melanie and Wanderer; the adventure, romance, and survival ethoses blend beautifully. It is an experience that deserves a festival all to itself. Meyer only dabbles in alien v. human adrenaline—for more of that, plus the scary alien factor and the rocket fuel rush The Host conjurs, you're going to have to head straight to the movies. Start with Invasion of the B ody Snatchers and The War of the Worlds and then reload the popcorn and watch They Live, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and the TV series V.
In terms of books, if you want to stay in the sf world, consider Robert A. Heinlein's Puppet Masters for its adventure and science, Robert J. Sawyer's Mindscan for its consideration of identity, and Sheri S. Tepper's The Margarets as an intriguing take on Wanderer.
However, for readers who came to The Host because of their love of Bella and Edward (the stars of Meyer’s "Twilight" vampire series), Heinlein and Sawyer are not going to work. Too many sharp corners and not enough mood.
The thing is, The Host's addictive quality derives not from the alien occupation idea. It is the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer, the revelation of Wanderer’s character, the depth of plot, the compulsive pacing, and the deep attachments that keep the story simmering.
Meyer's breakout is going to be the sf book for readers who don’t think they like sf.
For similar character, tone, and detail, as well as heroics and moments of pitch-perfect dialog and s cene, try two other big, addictive, and groundbreaking books: Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. They both share elements of genre blending, pure storytelling genius, adventure, deep and detailed internal landscapes, and characters you want to jump into the book and meet.
Meyer is hinting at continuing the story line of The Host—readers can only hope she means it and that they will be twice as long.
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