Wednesday, June 25

"The Host" - Stephenie Meyer

"Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.
Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, 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.
Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts 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 yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.
Featuring what may be the first love triangle involving only two bodies, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel that will bring a vast new readership to one of the most compelling writers of our time."
On the Internet, there seem to be two main reactions to this book: people either loved it, or hated it. I began reading and, about three chapters in, had a sinking feeling I was going to shuffle on over and join the 'I-hated-it!' group, and was planning to offer to sell the book to one of my friends at a discounted price (it wasn't a cheap one to buy!). The story was taking a very long time to get going, and I had to keep really pushing forward with reading it.
However, once the book really got going, it became intriguingly interesting. Soon I was flicking through the chapters at a much faster pace, and by the middle of the book, I was well and truly engrossed with the story. Time I should have spent doing homework and study was soon being spent sitting on my bed ploughing through the book - every time I reached the end of a chapter, I felt utterly compelled to keep reading on (and not just because school crap was the other alternative).
Since I'm a piano player, I think reading this book is sort of like playing a piece rubato. For the musically illiterate, 'rubato' playing involves speeding up slightly in the middle of each bar, and slowing down at the beginning and end of each bar, so that the music seems to have a 'push-and-pull' rhythm/feel to it. This book was similar: the beginning was slow (and, I confess, slightly dull), the middle sped up considerably, but by the end it slowed down a little once more. Admittedly, the ending was a little anticlimactic.
However, despite all its flaws (including the characteristic Meyer-esque highly emotional characters - you don't have to cringe and gasp at every little thing, Wanderer, take a chill pill!), I found this to be a very satisfying read. I hate books that are over too quickly, and I hate books that are so long you almost forget what happened in the beginning by the time you reach the end. 'The Host', despite the slow beginning and end, seemed to be an excellent length for me.
Often touted as "sci-fi for people who don't like sci-fi" (which I agree with), this book cleverly combines romance, science fiction, suspense and action, while providing an interesting look at the human condition. It was a great read, but it did have it's flaws, so I give it 4 STARS.

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