Thursday, July 3, 2014

Book Review: The Host

I know I'm late to the bandwagon on this one, but I get the feeling some readers haven't given The Host a chance because of Twilight, so I thought I might chime in. Even I was expecting some kind of Twilight-In-Space saga, but I have to say: I was pleasantly surprised.


Personally I found the Twilight series (or at least what I read of it; I stopped at book 2 or 3) entertaining, but Bella's character was too deeply flawed for me to continue through to the end. I also thought it set a dangerous example of "romance" for younger audiences. However, for adults who know better? Have at it. Meyer definitely knows how to spin a suspenseful tale.

So now that you know my feelings on Twilight, let's talk about The Host.

Fortunately the dual heroine in The Host is stronger than Bella, and the romance is a little more secondary to the story. In a nutshell, an alien parasite has merged with a human, and this is the story of their relationship: how they first war with each other for control, and then ultimately try to work together to reunite with the human's lost love and family. And most interestingly, everything is told from the alien's perspective.

Considering how much internal dialogue a story like that HAS to have, The Host really zips along with plenty of suspense and action (sometimes in flashbacks). It's a beautiful, character-driven story that managed to have me a bit weepy by the end.

As for negatives, it occasionally bothered me that the heroine gets beat up so much - and always by men. The alien is an extreme pacifist, and so refuses to defend herself. At least the story has this explanation built in, though, and over time you come to see her refusal to fight as a strength of its own. And if I personally couldn't identify with such selflessness, well, that's kind of the point: the contrast between human brutality and the aliens' dedication to nonviolence.

And here's something I never thought I'd say: I actually hope Meyer writes a sequel some day. I'd love to see what happens.

So if you're looking for something really unique in your science fiction, and if Meyer's writing doesn't turn you off TOO much, then definitely give The Host a try.


Oh, and about that movie...

Right after writing this review I discovered the movie on Netflix, and... Wow. So bad. Stay away if you haven't seen it, and if you have, then the book might be a lost cause for you, what with the spoilers and bad acting and all. If you're still interested, though, then I'd give the book a try.

And hey, at least the movie's depiction of the alien souls was pretty:


 :)


If you're looking for more book recommendations, head over to my review page for the complete list! I've starred my top picks for easy browsing. 

And as always, please share your own YA recommendations in the comments; I keep a list of everything you guys suggest, and I'm slowly working my way through it!

49 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this book, but felt like it could have been written so much better. Meyer has great ideas, but can't always execute them well.

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  2. Oh, I was going to warn you NOT to watch the movie but I'm too late lol. It was soooo bad! I nearly fell asleep in the theater!
    I loved the Twilight books when I read them, before the movies started coming out, but KStew just *ruined* them for me. So I was really pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed The Host.

    And my recommendation, which you might have already gotten/read, is The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd. A retelling of The Island of Dr Moreau, from the viewpoint of his teenage daughter. The first book is very good, the second is not bad, I'll definitely continue reading the series.

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  3. I 'read' The Host as an audiobook and REALLY enjoyed how the narrator(?)/auditor(?) performed. It was fun to actually hear the internal dialogue between the two heroines.

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  4. The Host is definitely neat. I didn't mind the movie too much, but the book was definitely better.

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  5. I, too, liked The Host much better than Twilight, and I'd like a sequel.

    As for recommendations, I just finished the Lumatere Chronicles, and they were unbelievable! I like when I start a series that is already finished so I don't have to wait for the next book to be released.

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  6. Hey, did you ever get your hands on Earth Girl? If you did, I totally want a review!

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  7. Ugg. This commenting system hates me. Hopefully third time's the charm. You should read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It's a magic/steampunk/timeshifting/romance. It's hard to describe, but a charming read. There's a cosplay subplot that I can totally see you and John in. :-) Plus, there's a bonus.... It's a single book... no trilogy!!

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    1. She already has: http://www.epbot.com/2013/11/book-review-night-circus.html

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  8. I loved "The Host"! I thought it was well written and definitely kept me on point. I agree that the movie was awful. I feel like they just threw it together to get it out there for the hype kind of like they did with "Divergent".

    I, too, have read "The Night Circus". While I liked the thought behind the plot, I thought the story was quite complicated with too much time shifting and too many subplots that didn't quite come together. As for the imagery, it was worth a read.

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    1. She already has: http://www.epbot.com/2013/11/book-review-night-circus.html

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    2. Sorry, I replied to the wrong comment. :)

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  9. Have you read the graphic novel Digger by Usula Vernon? If you haven't, you absolutely have to, right now. Two words: vampire squash.

    Also the main character is an extremely practical female wombat who'd much rather shore tunnels than get involved with any magical adventure nonsense. . . not that she gets a choice.

    I don't know if technically counts as YA, but it sure feels like it.

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  10. I have 2 recommendations. They aren't technically YA but I wouldn't mind my almost 13 year old son reading them. I just don't think he'd get them.

    Jeff VanderMeer Annihilation. I love the atmosphere he creates. Four women are sent to Area X, a region cut off from the rest of the world, except for one entry point, by something unknown. The previous 11 expeditions all ended in various forms of tragedy. There are 2 more books planned in the series but there is an end at the end of this book. There are definitely more questions left. I'm reading the 2nd book.

    Rachel Bach Fortune's Pawn (Paradox series). A smart, kick-ass heroine. It's just a fun read. First in planned trilogy. Amazon's description: "Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet. That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle."

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    1. I just finished Annihilation a few days ago... so creepy! It's a well-crafted story that really sticks with you. Can't wait to get the next one from the library.

      I also enjoyed The Host much more than the Twilight books. Very thought-provoking.

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  11. I enjoyed The Host, definitely more than the twilight series (so badly written!) - but I agree that Meyer's writing could be much better if she refined it more - reasoning with vampires/ sentances are not minivans.
    I'd recommend anything by Melissa Marr - she's a great writer; and anything by Libba Bray - The Diviners is 1920s YA - with a sequel due out shortly, and Beauty Queens is hilarious. I'd also recommend Lev Grossman's magicians series if you liked C.S. lewis, even though it is definitely *not* YA

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  12. I have followed you here & on Cakewrecks for years and never commented before, but saw that you had a Tui T. Sutherland book in your list of reviews and wondered if you've read the Wings of Fire series. My 10-year-old son got the first one at a Scholastic book fair at school and we would read together every night. I was glad to see him find books he LOVED to read, and I really enjoyed the story myself - so much so that I will be reading book 5 by myself, since he read it at school. A synopsis on the first book from Amazon: "Clay and his friends have grown up under a mountain, secretly raised by the Talons of Peace to fulfill a mysterious prophecy. The five young dragons are destined to end the war that's been raging between the tribes of Pyrrhia -- but how they'll do this, none of them knows."

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  13. I've loved this book since I first read it forever ago. I was so excited for the movie and they made it so awful. There was so much that they could have done with it and didn't. I'm afraid that they will do the same with The Giver, which is my all time favorite book.

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  14. Your book review are always so useful! My recommendation: Isabel Allende's YA trilogy, starting with City of The Beasts. I don't think I've seen them listed before in your comments.

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  15. Whoops! My first comment seems to have been eaten. I'll just restate. I'm glad you liked this book too! It's hard to understand why I disliked twilight so much, but enjoyed The Host.

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  16. I'll recomend anything by A. Lee Martinez. The Nameless Witch, Monster & Too Many curses are my favorites. Each book is a stand alone, and every book is totally different! So much fun to read!!!

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  17. I had enjoyed the Twilight series enough, with a grain of salt, that I bought The Host as soon as it came out and was very pleasantly surprised with how much I loved it and couldn't put it down. I reread it before the movie came out and still loved it. And I didn't totally hate the movie. The internal dialogue got a little weird, but then I'm not entirely sure how they could have done that without it being weird. For me, the bigger issue was that they left so much out, and not because it was running long. It was a short movie. They could have added more meat to it.

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  18. aww i liked the host movie (probably mostly because Ian was played by the same actor who played Adam Winchester on Supernatural--since i always pictured Ian/Jared as Sam/Dean respectively when i was reading--i always skip to when she gets to the caves when I re-watch).

    i like to tell people that this book is good for a Meyer book but definitely could be tighter writing. I originally got it for vacation beach reading and was pleased.

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  19. If you haven't read them already, you should try "Forever Neverland" and "Beyond Neverland" by Heather Killough-Walden. Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Tink all grown up in the modern world. Michael is twelve at the end of "Beyond Neverland" so he's not quite grown up.

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  20. I agreed completely with your review, even down to the slightly irksome passive nature of the main character. I think i nearly pulled a muscle rolling my eyes when she was battered and pathetically crawling off the soccer field. When I watched the movie, one of the things I missed most was all of her descriptions of other worlds. Plus, as secondary as the romance felt in the book, the movie made it so secondary it was almost forced into existing, feeling very inorganic.

    I don't suppose you would be willing to post that list some time? I've been trying to write down all of the suggestions too but I'm sure I've missed some.

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  21. If you read independent books my dad wrote a YA trilogy (it's on Amazon)! The first book is called Sparks of Chaos (by Kevin Caruso). It's about a shipwrecked teenager and a secret society.

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  22. So glad you read this, so much better than Twilight. I would thoroughly recommend Garth Nix's Abhorsen Series, Days of the Week series and Shade's Children (I'm not so keen on his other works though), also Naomi Noviks Temeraire series (although it does start to tail off after Victory of Eagles but you could easily stop there), PC and Kristin Cast's House of Night series, Alison Croggan's Books of Pellinor, James Clemens' Wit'ch War series and finally anything by Maria V Snyder. Can you tell I read a lot?

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    1. And by James Clemens Wit'ch War series I actually meant The Banned and The Banished

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  23. shoot! i forgot my book recommendation
    i am on the 4th book in the Siriantha Jax/Grimspace books by Ann Aguirre they are good though the 2nd one kind of drags a bit. it is a bout a "grimspace" (think wormholes--sort of?--that are navigated only by people who have a specific gene) ahh forget it. from Amazon:

    As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun's not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her...for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.
    (the part about the crash landing isn't a spoiler--the book opens with her waking from a nightmare about it)

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  24. I loved that book! So much better than the Twilight series :)

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  25. That picture looks like she's popping a zit full of fireworks.

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  26. Here is a different opinion, and a spoiler alert. Let's just say that she described the concept of one's body being taken over by another entity, and the whole human race as well, so well that it just made my soul reel in horror. I hated the alien beings. I don't care how 'nice' it was. I can't understand how anyone could like it. It's just horrible. No. I never connected to the alien. I hoped they would have all died off like in The War of the Worlds (original version, don't know about the remake). There's nothing symbiotic here. It's a parasite that takes over your body. It cannot survive without doing this. If it's "born" without a host ready, it just dies a little while later. You're either 'on' or 'off.' The vast majority of humans that were inhabited by those entities were permanently off and could never come back. Little babies and children, just gone. The parasite grows up in that body and where did that human soul go? I just can't entertain it. No. No. No. Just thinking about it makes my whole soul just shudder. No. I wouldn't even have written anything at all about this, except it affected me that much. I'm sitting here shaking my head, muttering 'no.' This book was traumatic to me. I don't know what kept me reading, except I guess I have a morbid sense of curiosity. Sorry, but that is my take on it.

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    1. I gotta say, I agree with this 100%. My hackles were raised and I was just muttering about Yeerks throughout the whole thing. Ugh.

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  27. I thankfully read The Host before I read Twilight, so I was able to actually enjoy it without the Twilight stigma. I also felt it had a good story and that the movie wasn't quite up to par!

    When it come to YA recommendations I have plenty. Have you read Unwind by Neal Shusterman? Or Partials by Dan Wells? Both are very good dystopians. I haven't finished the Unwind series yet, but all three Partials books were fantastic!

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  28. I had to translate the movie for subtitles here in Spain and thought it was SO lame. And I really like Saoirse Ronan, but the film was awful, the acting was terrible and it all just looked and felt really silly.

    But I can give the book a chance, although I am not really sure I am going to like it (maybe I am just a bit prejudiced). Juvenile romance does not agree with me unless it us Jane Austen (or Jane Austen and zombies, yes, please!).

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  29. I quit Twilight on book two - I just got frustrated that I'd read a hundred or more pages and barely anything had happened. I've thought about giving The Host a try a few times but the sheer size of it always stops me. I feel like a lot of books are far longer than they need to be, you know? That's a shame the movie is bad.

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  30. "The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applegate won the Newbery Medal for 2013 and for good reason. A deceptively simple read (most chapters are only one or two pages), the story is told from the point-of-view of Ivan, a silverback gorilla that lives in an enclosure at a mall with a menagerie of other exotic animals. It is a fictional tale that is actually based on a true story.

    I realize this is not the sci-fi stuff you traditionally read. However, I promise it is worth the time, which realistically could take as little as one afternoon since it is a rather short story in a misleadingly large looking book. I loved this book not only because it is a wonderful story, but also because it is proof that great writing doesn't have to have big words or flowery prose. In trying to get kids interested in reading, "big books" can be intimidating (I'm looking at you "classics"!). This is a great story for showing reluctant readers how rewarding it can be investing in a character/story/world. I'm sorry, my inner-librarian is showing! ;)

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    1. I just finished Ivan and loved it!!! Still can't get my son to read it, but maybe soon. I am planning on going to the Atlanta Zoo soon - maybe that will motivate him. I also like the Host and would like to see what happens next.

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  31. Not sure if you've already gotten this recommendation, but I read Timebound last year and loved it! It's the first book in a trilogy (I think). There is a minor cliffhanger, but it does stands alone - which is good because the second book doesn't come out until October! I don't want to give too much away, but It takes place in present day and there's time travel involved. And there's a TON of Princess Bride references. I think it's up your alley.

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  32. Have you read the girl who never was by skylar Dorset? It's new about a girl who finds out she is super natural. Really fun

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  33. Loved this book. I read no I devoured The Host in around 48 hrs. No sleep just read.
    Have you ever read anything by Tad Williams, he is my all time favourite author. All of his books are amazing but if you want a fun read start with either TAILCHASER’S SONG or THE WAR OF THE FLOWERS. With your love of gaming you must read, his OTHERLAND series CITY OF GOLDEN SHADOW, RIVER OF BLUE FIRE, MOUNTAIN OF BLACK GLASS, SEA OF SILVER LIGHT. In it the youth of teh world are being sucked into their virtual reality games, and a group pf them are trying to find their way from world to world(level to level) to find their way home.

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  34. Have you tried "Con Job" by Laura VanArendonk Baugh? It is a murder mystery that takes place at a convention. It was very entertaining, with plenty of points of laughter for those who understand the references. Half the fun of the book is picking the references out, while trying to figure out who done it!

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  35. I just finished The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers and can honestly say it was one of the most enchanting things I've ever read. It's not technically YA, but there's not anything that makes it particularly adult either (well, the main character is 70, but that's still fairly young for his species). It is essentially a book about books, set in a fantastical city (I found one reveiw that described it as Terry Pratchett meets Shel Silverstein) where the main trade is books of all types, only better than could ever be found in our world. Even if you chose to ignore the plotline it would still be worth it just to read the descriptions of the streets and streets of bookstores filled with the most interesting sounding books imaginable. Only you shouldn't do that because the plot is also delightful. A story for anyone who loves stories. And there are illustrations!
    Back on the more strictly YA side of things, I was recently pleasantly surprised by Robin McKinley's Pegasus. A story about a princess being bound to a pegasus also from a royal line sounds like a rather fluffy, overly cheerful piece of fantasy but it's actually a highly original story about two extremely different cultures trying to live together. A good read.
    And it's been mentioned several times by several people on here already, but I'm going to bring up Rachel Hartman's Seraphina again because you seriously need to read it.

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  36. I picked up the Host when it was on clearance at Half-Price, just for the heck of it, and like you, was pleasantly surprised! It's really a good story, and I enjoyed the world-building. I am very much not a Twilight fan, and this book made me wonder if she dumbed down her writing for Twilight. The movie..... nope. Nope nope nope.

    Hmm, recommendations? I can't remember if I've seen the Finishing School series on here by Gail Carriger, but on the slight chance you haven't read them, run to your nearest Amazon and get reading!

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  37. My friend and I both read the Host at the same time. We went and saw the movie together... Luckily the two of us were the only ones in the theater as I'm sure our groanings would have gotten us in trouble with other movie goers :)

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  38. I loved The Host and have recommended it to so many people, only to be shot down because of Twilight. I'm glad someone I know (in an obscure internet-fashion) read it and liked it too!

    I just finished reading the Light and Shadow trilogy by Moira Katson. (The whole set was about $3 on my nook from Barnes & Noble, so it's probably similar through Amazon.) There were a few errors here and there, but the plot was solid and enjoyable with strong, but very different, female leads. I would recommend maybe trying that. It's somewhat of a historical fiction though, which I enjoy

    Also, the Poison Study books by Maria V. Snyder were excellent too and definitely worth a read.

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  39. I watched the movie and I actually liked it. I was intrigued that Meyers wrote something this different in the sci-fi genre. I haven't read the book (I'm a library tech. Shame on me) so I don't know how different they are. I never read Twilight. I can't read Meyers stuff, but The Host gave me hope that if the movie was pretty interesting then I'd almost give her writings a chance.

    Almost.

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  40. I absolutely loved The Host when I read it. It took a while, because it is a BIG book, but it's worth it once you get passed the first couple of chapters. I recommend it to anyone that likes sci-fi or futuristic stylings.

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  41. I read "The Host" after I had read (and liked) the Twilight series. I actually told my hubby after he read it (yep, he read it and Twilight too!) that it would make a better movie than Twilight. I'm disappointed to hear how bad the movie was. When I saw the trailer for it, I had (as said hubby calls it) nerd rage. :) I may have to skip watching it. I really did enjoy the book, though. I thought it was better written than Twilight. I agree with you, I hope she does a sequel to it.

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  42. It's been a long time since I've read such a stirring, science fiction tale that has made me go through so many emotions. The Host is a deep and beautiful story, and very different from Meyer's popular, young adult series. This is a rare story that made me stop and think about the choices that are made and what I would do in their place. Intense, exciting, dramatic, and inspiring, I'd highly recommend this novel to any reader, not only science fiction fans.

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