The Host by Stephanie Meyer: Review

Right, so I’ve spent the last few weeks traveling to Israel on a mission trip with my church, sick, and starting a new job so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to read, but I finally finished this book so it’s review time! (there’s gonna be spoilers in this one)

This isn’t the first time I’ve read The Host, but when I got home from Israel and was spending a day lying around my house trying to get over jet lag I found the movie on Netflix, watched it, and, of course, felt a need to read the book again.

What can I say about The Host, it’s pretty typical Stephanie Meyer. I confess, I’ve read Twilight multiple times, it’s my guilty reading pleasure, not because it’s super good, but because you know that it’s all going to be warm and fuzzy in the end, and there’s something comforting about that to me. But this isn’t about Twilight, although I can’t help but point out that there are a lot of similarities between these two stories.

There’s a girl, she’s pretty ordinary, nothing special about her that anyone can see except that she just can’t seem to fit in anywhere and she doesn’t know why, she just doesn’t for some reason. But she’s special, no really, she’s just fascinating to the people around her, especially that one boy from another species who just can’t seem to not fall in love with her despite the fact that the entire rest of his species is telling him that it’ll never work out. Don’t worry, her inexplicable charm wins them all over in the end. Outside of this the plot consists entirely of situations that force the girl to be self sacrificing in order to save the people she love, which manages to result in her and everyone she loves getting everything they wanted. The end.

Okay, now which story did I just describe, The Host or Twilight? It literally could have been either. I mean, okay, there is some variation between the two, but at the core they are basically the same story. Like I said before, that’s what I like about Meyer’s stories, you always know that their going to have a happy ending. So yeah, I enjoy them despite their flaws. Like the totally dramatic form of love that exists in both stories. Seriously, in both stories emotions just seem completely overblown to me. I really think there is a lot to be said about subtlety when it comes to portraying emotions in writing. It has a lot to do with that old writing cliche “show don’t tell,” something that Meyer has yet to master. And as much as we all might want to believe in that completely overpowering love that she writes about, and as much as it might even exist, I think her very dramatized way of writing about it does not do it justice.

Now, on to other things. It is an interesting concept. Alien and human, living together in one body, coming to know and understand each other. Not entirely original, humans being possessed by little alien creatures that attach to the brain stems and cause their eyes to glow has been done before (e.g. Stargate SG-1), but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still room to explore with the concept. The idea of the aliens as invaders and conquerors, but also gentle and, in many ways, mundane was pretty interesting to me. I think the alien’s version of human society was one of the more interesting things in the book, and I have a lot of questions about it that weren’t answered during the course of the novel. There are also some things that we do learn about it in the book that don’t make a lot of sense to me. For example, if the souls justify their occupation of a planet by saying that they’ll take care of it better etc. then why are they all still chowing down on plastic wrapped junk foods and driving cars that are going to wreck the environment and stuff like that? I mean if their whole deal is that they make a planet better then why haven’t they used their superior technology to fix all the problems in human society? Yes, they “come to experience, not to change” but in order to stick with their own propaganda they would need to change some thing, and that doesn’t seem to have happened in Meyer’s world. The devil is in the detail.

What else is their to say? There is a lot that I can criticize in this book, but I don’t see the point in going into more of the flaws because this isn’t, in my opinion, the kind of book that you read in order to get a really good literary experience. It’s the kind of story you read when you want to read something dramatic and happy with a love story that you know has to work out in the end.

I’ll rate this a 3/5 with points knocked of for all of the stuff that I’ve just written a whole review about and am not going to reiterate here, but I have to give it the 3 because I enjoy reading this book every time I pick it up. Mind you, I can’t read it that often or the drama of it starts to get on my nerves, but once every few years I’ll probably give it a read.



Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die series book 3): Review

(Spoiler warning, but nothing too serious)

First off, I have to say that I’m pretty upset. I thought this series was only a trilogy, not sure why. I mean there were three book on the shelf at the store, I bought the three books, and I expected that to be the end of it. Anyway, this has definitely happened to me before, and I should really learn to start googling these things before I start a series, but I never learn. The point though, is that I’m pretty mad the series isn’t over yet.

If you’ve read my reviews of the first two books in the series you know that my feelings have been mixed. This book pretty much had all of the same problems as the previous two. I’m not going to rehash all of it, but basically the ideas and plot behind the story are interesting and have a lot of potential, but the execution of the story comes across really shallow. On the bright side, sitting here at the end of book three I feel like some of the main characters are finally starting to feel more genuine to me. Of course, it shouldn’t have taken three books for me to start feeling this way. If I were to compare this series to a movie I’d say it’s one of those action thrillers that has a plot, and it follows the plot, but you can tell that it was written specifically to allow for as many explosions, car chases, and gory fight scenes as possible, all at the expense of character development and cohesiveness.

So one reason why I’m upset that this series didn’t end with the third book is because it definitely could have. In fact, it very nearly did. The original aim of the series was pretty much completed in this book, but, surprise, something new happened, a new bad guy made himself known, and now the series goes on. This is something that often bothers me. I don’t like it when a story drags on after its natural conclusion. I mean, yes, I am totally fine with heroes facing more than one villain, and with multiple story arches, and things like that. But there’s a good way to do that, and there’s deciding to throw a new bad guy in at the end just to keep the series going. This series definitely seems like the latter to me. Possibly I would feel differently if I had known that the series went on past the third book, but I don’t think so. The series was set up with a very clear goal, an obvious conclusion, and I really think it should have ended there instead being dragged out.

On the other hand, things are getting really interesting over in OZ. That actually just makes me more angry because I really want to be finished with this series but now I’m to invested and really want to know what happens next. I guess that’s a positive though.

Alright, this third book in the series earns a grudging 3.5/5 from me. The plot is definitely getting interesting at this point, but mostly I’m just glad that the characters are starting to come into their own. This series is worth it if you’re willing to stick it out through all of the shallow characterization and plot devices to get to the interesting stuff.