Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Host

The Host  (The Host, #1)The Host by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't think I've ever been so conflicted about a book.
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.
Here's the gist of it:

The first and last hundred pages were amazing. I thought I'd hate everything about it, but to my surprise, Stephenie Meyer, is (in my opinion) a terrific writer. I even took out a pen and hightlighted some quotes! Here's one of my favorites. It's said by Ian, of course. Not Jared.
“It's not the face, but the expressions on it. It's not the voice, but what you say. It's not how you look in that body, but the things you do with it. You are beautiful.” (Page 390)
The 400 pages in the middle, however, were terrible. Mostly because of (you guessed it!) the love interest, Jared. Except for him, everything else was awesome. The worldbuilding was interesting enough that I don't mind how nothing happened in those 400 pages.

If Stephenie Meyer wrote a book without a romance in it, I'd probably love it. She's a great writer--just not if you're looking for healthy relationships.

FYI: I'll probably use "Melanie" and "Wanderer" interchangeably, but sometimes I won't. Melanie is the human that Wanderer is inside. Melanie is super tough and won't let anyone take over her life, including Wanderer. Oh, but Jared is the exception, of course. She and Wanderer are both obsessed with him, but Wanderer is a smidge for rational about what's going on.

Now for a game! I found a website with the examples of how Twilight meets all 15 warning signs of an abusive relationship by the Nation Domestic Violence hotline. If your relationship meets one or two of these, you're supposed to be concerned. Let's see how many Melanie/Wanderer and Jared meet. I'm estimating 13 (don't worry, I last read this list a few weeks ago--I'm not making an "estimate" as I type these out).

Warning #1: Does your partner look at you or act in ways that scare you? YES. Melanie is terrified of Jared, but she still loves him. She never really feels betrayed, just acts like she's gonna wait it out till he's nice again.

Warning #2: Does your partner control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go? Yep. After the humans find Melanie/Wanderer, Jared gets to be her guard when they break her back to the caves. Whenever anyone else gets near her, he gets angry.

Warning #3: Does your partner make all of the decisions? Hm.... This is a tough one. In the end, Wanderer makes a ton of her own choices, but throughout the rest of the book, everything is up to Jared. So this counts as one.

Warning #4: Does your partner act like the abuse is no big deal, it's your fault, or even deny doing it? Yes yes yes. In the end, he's sort of sorry though, I'll give him that. But until that point, everything is Melanie's fault, of course. After all, she's the one with a soul inside! That makes it okay to do whatever you want to her! Even if other people have realized the truth (like Ian--he was bad at first too, but then realized his mistake and was obviously sorry) it's okay to abuse her.

Warning #5: Does your partner threaten to commit suicide? Off the top of my head, I don't remember Jared ever saying he would literally kill himself if something happened to Melanie. Probably because he's too busy hitting her. But hey, The Host misses at least one warning.

Warning #6: Does your partner threaten to kill you? Of course. He nearly does, in fact, because Jeb, the guy in charge of the caves and Melanie's uncle, decides her fate should lie in Jared's hands. One day Jared decides to do it, but Jeb conveniently doesn't have his gun with him. If he did though, Melanie would have died, because Jeb "is a man of his word".

Warning #7: Does your partner try to isolate you from family or friends? See #2.

Warning #8: Does your partner damage property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.)? Well he damages Melanie's face, but I can't remember him breaking anything else. So I'll let this one pass.

Warning #9: Does your partner push, slap, bite, kick or choke you? See basically everything above, but here's on of my states updates from Goodreads, at 29% of the book: "After hitting her once and a week later having the next blow blocked by someone else, Jared says, "I'm ready to go for three". Melanie, why aren't you feeling angry or betrayed? Are you a total idiot?"

Warning #10: Has your partner ever abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place? I actually don't think he did. The Host appears to be standing up better than I expected it to.

Warning #11: Does your partner scare you by driving recklessly? Jared does scare Melanie while out on a raid away from the caves by driving too fast. He was worried about being caught and possessed by a soul though, and Wanderer is used to following the laws. Given the circumstances, I'd say that while he is driving recklessly, he's not doing it to scare her on purpose. Off the hook.

Warning #12: Has your partner forced you to leave your home? No, they have to leave from their first home before Melanie got Wanderer because they had to find Jeb and the caves. Not Jared's fault, so he's good here too.

Warning #13: Does your partner prevent you from calling police or seeking medical attention? They can't get professional help because of all the Souls in the towns, so Jared can't be blamed for that. He never stops her from going to Doc either.

Warning #14: Does your partner view women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles? Now, I am the queen of misunderstanding things, so maybe The Host clears on this one too. But people (especially Jeb) kept saying that Melanie's body belonged to Jared; ergo, he should choose whether or not she lives. It was just the way they phrased it that sounded really off. 1/2 a point.

Warning #15: Does your partner accuse you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships? He doesn't accuse her of cheating, but he is jealous of her friendship with Ian. See, Ian loves Wanderer, and Jared loves Melanie. Thing is, you can't separate Melanie from Wanderer, so she kisses both boys. If I were in Jared's place, I'd probably be jealous too though. Another 1/2 point.

Total Score: 8
Only eight! I was expecting way more. Comment with how many you thought it would be!

More things to consider, taken from my states updates (there's nearly thirty in all, in case you're wondering. You can see the rest here):

28%: "Yes, if my ex boyfriend told my uncle to take away my sleeping bag so that I would have to sleep in a bare rock cave, I, too, would be entirely understanding. NOT."

46%: "Jared raised his voice, so that anyone between here and the main plaza would hear. 'Come out, come out, wherever you are,' he called, his voice hard and mocking."

77%: "Yes, Jared, Ian is right. If your hotel room has two beds and there's two guys and one girl, you can't ask her who she'd rather sleep with. You just give her the other bed whether she's asked for it yet or not. You'll survive."

Also, this conversation between Melanie and Wanderer:
"I can't believe he hit me," Melanie mused, her thoughts incredulous rather than resentful. She was not over the surprise of it yet. I hadn't been surprised in the first place. Of course he had hit me. 
I wondered where you were," I answered. It would be poor manners to get me into this mess and then abandon me. 
She ignored my sour tone. I wouldn't have thought he'd be able to do it, no matter what. I don't think I could hit him. 
Sure you could. If he'd come at your with reflective eyes [all souls have eyes like that, FIY] you'd have done the same. You're naturally violent.... 
Melanie tried to consider it impartially. I don't think so. Not Jared...and Jamie [her brother], there's no way I could hurt Jamie, even if he was.... She trailed off, hating that line of thought. 
I considered this and found it true. Even if the child had become something or someone else, neither she not I could ever raise a hand to him.That's different. You're like...a mother. Mothers are irrational here. Too many emotions involved. 
Motherhood is always irrational--even for you souls. 
I didn't answer that. (Pages 140-141)
And there you have it. It's a shame the middle of the book was so bad (and so long) because the beginning and end were epic. I'm writing this within an hour or two of finishing the book, so I still kind of have the hangover from that ending.


Language: B
Sexual Content: A or B
Violence: B or C


  1. What a great review! I haven't read the book, but I have heard that it was mildly unimpressive.

    1. If only Stephenie Meyer would try a book without romance. It would probably be awesome!