As I get older, I’m finding myself more and more conflicted about the books I read. Smeyer’s The Host isn’t helping me in the issue at all.
It was in the university library and with all the hype, I thought this meant that I should read it. It sat on my shelf for a month or more with me not making it past the first chapter. I’ll admit that some of this had to do with the fact that I tried to read New Moon* this summer and got no farther than Bella’s excessive moping and being told that her favorite pieces of literature are Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet. This degree of ridiculous and over the top sentimentality grates on me** and I put down New Moon forever. So naturally, I had low expectations of The Host.
After deciding ‘it must be read!’ I didn’t linger over it very long. So here’s the deal, the story’s not bad. Honestly, the whole idea is interesting. You know, two girls in one body. Who is in charge? Who is influencing whom? Who loves Jared, the boyfriend, and Jamie, the little brother? All that rot. However, the problem lies with her descriptions of Wanderer’s species. They’re peace-loving, honest, communal, non-violent and everything that human nature doesn’t allow us to be. Basically, they fart rainbows. (Well, if they could fart, they’d fart rainbows.) So why do they conquer Earth and take over human bodies, erase human selves? Yeah, that’s what I said. They know we’re sentient, but, somehow, it’s not murder to erase us. We’re the murderous, violent ones.
Anyway, the other main plot element was the fact that it was a romance. I am not someone who despises romance in a novel, after all, humanity spends a great deal of time and energy on the forms and rituals of it in daily life. That being said, I find that I don’t really care for Smeyer’s way of going about it. Jared is a jerk. He’s supposed to be the romantic hero, but he’s crazy possessive and rather cruel. I don’t know how many times he beat the ever-lovin’ crap out of Wanderer in Melanie’s body. Yes, I know that looking at your beloved and knowing they weren’t there anymore would be heart wrenching, but there was no need for him to be outrageous. Though, the most disturbing thing about Jared wasn’t him so much as Melanie’s reaction to him. She doesn’t even try to justify his actions; she just loves him. Justification from Melanie would at least indicate that she thought his behavior was wrong, but she never feels the need!
I was so terribly glad that Ian seemed more balanced, even if he did carry Wanderer around rather often. (Considering how regularly she got the snot kicked out of her, it may have been appropriate.) Ian was rather lovely in the fact that he cared about Wanderer, the soul, and transferred his affections to her new body without any qualms. It was made all the more sweet when he didn’t choose her new body, but Melanie, Jared and Jamie did.
It was a rather sweet and happy little ending, but it felt contrived. This problem lies solely with the fact that we have the major plot hole of the nature of ‘the souls.’ Frustrating.
Don’t take my word for it though, read it!
*No, I did not read Twilight, but I had seen the movie, which was EPICALLY bad and therefore hysterical.
**I’m sorry, but doomed love isn’t romantic. All it ever seems to do is to lead to whining and death. I need to look no farther than WH and R & J to make my point.