Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Host - Stephenie Meyer (+ Movie Review)

The Host - Stephenie Meyer
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Series: The Host #1
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Publication Date: May 6, 2008
Source/Format: Bought || Kindle e-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. (from Goodreads)

While I didn't particularly care for her other series (the one that features a certain sparkly vampire), Stephenie Meyer certainly surprised me with The Host. Considering I'm not a big fan of books about aliens, the fact that I actually liked this one is a big deal! The story was cleverly told, weaving multiple plot lines together seamlessly. But, best of all, Meyer presented me with new characters - particularly Wanderer, Ian and Jamie - to care about and be invested in. 

Wanderer, or Wanda, as she's known in the novel, is my favorite of the characters. It's not just because I like her name, or how it symbolizes the totality of who she is (and the kind of person I'd like to be when it comes to travel). It's because I adored her spirit. In spite of being a soul, part of an alien race that takes over various planets through their insertion into the planet's inhabitants, Wanda is kind, considerate, generous and intelligent. The sincerity of her choices was appealing, and easy to like, so it's not surprising that I grew really attached to her.

Ian and Jamie would tie for my second favorite character in this novel, as they're both important parts of Wanda's story. Jamie is the little brother of Melanie, Wanderer's "host". Through Melanie's memories and her own interactions with him, Wanda grows to love him and it's really sweet to see how he responds so honestly and sincerely to her. He was always able to distinguish between the two - Melanie and Wanda - which was certainly great. Ian also ended up having the same ability, even though initially he was against Wanda's presence in their little band of humans. Witnessing his transformation and watching his regard for Wanda really grow as the story progressed made it easy to like him as much as Wanderer did.

Honestly, the book's beginning was pretty rough. It took a few chapters before I felt invested enough to keep on turning the pages, but once it clicked, the feeling of needing to know what happened next stayed with me up until the end. Meyer did a great job with the story-telling, combining romance, friendship and a bigger conflict. Instead of filling this book with physical action scenes, Meyer chose a slightly quieter route where she convinced readers to care about these characters and then presented us with a moral conflict that fits the context of their story. Doing so could have potentially backfired, but it definitely ended up working well.

If what I've said in my review isn't enough to convince you to read the book, maybe the knowledge that I actually teared up while reading it will. I was that emotionally invested in Wanderer's story, and Melanie's too! Meyer caught me off guard with how good I found The Host. If you're unsure whether or not to give this book a try, let me be the first to suggest you give it a chance because you might just be surprised like I was.

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The Host movie poster

One of the primary reasons I ended up reading The Host right away was because of my sister's insistence. She liked the book, and she really wanted me to watch the movie with her. Right after I finished the book, we settled in to watch the film, and here are some thoughts I had when we did.

The biggest problem I had with the movie adaptation is that there is no build-up whatsoever when it comes to pretty much everything. I could most likely have dealt with a lot of the changes that went into the story if there had been a better build-up for the things that made the book so dynamic to me. For instance, we don't get to see Wanderer and Melanie developing a relationship, or witness Wanderer learning how to interact with the humans. If the film had managed to do that in a better way, I might have enjoyed it more.

Since I had just finished reading and watched the movie right after, I could see all the changes they made to the story. They didn't particularly bother me, since what I said in the previous paragraph was more pressing. (But I am a little irritated that Ian doesn't look the way that he looks in the book (or at least in my head), but that's a personal thing.)

Surprisingly, I can actually say I liked it in spite of those feelings. I like Saoirse Ronan as Melanie/Wanderer, because I think she was able to play the role really well. It's a tough thing to be in your head so much for your character, but she pulled it off. And of course, there's Max Irons, who played Jared, because he added some very appealing eye candy. While it's not the best movie in the world, it was decent enough for me to not go the route of pretending it does not exist like a certain movie adaptation of a book about numbered aliens.

14 comments:

  1. Glad you liked the book! I really liked it and I really wish that more people would give it a chance. I feel like a lot of people just brush it off because it's written by Stephanie Meyer and that's really sad to me. Just because you don't like her other series doesn't mean this one is going to be horrible. And I really didn't like the movie. I thought that they changed way too many things and made it more of an action film which wasn't true to the book at all.

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    1. I'm guilty of being one of those people who wasn't too keen on reading it because of the author. I've been properly chastised now because of just how awesome the book was in reality! I'm glad I was able to give it a chance.

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  2. You know, I turned this book back into the library after the first few chapters. I couldn't get into it and it felt really forced from those chapters. I did watch the movie, which changed my mind a little, but I'm going to try it again after your review!

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    1. Honestly, I'll admit that the first few chapters are a bit clunky. But it hits its stride a little later on, and gets REALLY good. I do hope you give it another try!

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  3. I find in Stephenie Meyer's work in general that the early parts of her books are slow and then they pick up around the 1/3 or 1/2 way mark. I liked most of the characters in the book and I agree, Wanda's compassion and intelligence were cool. But I really hated her constant self-sacrificing. Because she's always trying to sacrifice herself for someone even when it wouldn't do any good. I wanted her to user her intelligence to find better solutions or trust other people in tough spots instead of the answer always being, "well if I sacrifice myself everyone else will be ok."

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    1. You make a very valid point, Annie! I honestly didn't think of it in that way; perhaps because she was an "alien"? But thanks for making me think about Wanda's self-sacrificing personality in a whole new light.

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  4. I need to read this one. I noticed that it's on Netflix, too, so maybe I'll read and then watch.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. That's actually what I did too! My sister wanted to watch the movie again, but didn't want to do it until I read the book. So I read it, then we watched it right after I finished. That made it an interesting experience overall!

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  5. I'm not much into aliens, so I was reluctant to pick it up too. I'll get to it & glad to hear worth the time.

    I've learned you really need some distance between reading & watching, because it's easy to get caught cataloging the differences which usually equates to lacking.

    Great revies.

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    1. I totally agree! But then again, I really did go into the movie intending to see how they translated the story to screen. It really is different from the book, even in the way that it focuses more on action than romance/introspection.

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  6. For some reason I always felt like the actors were supposed to be older than the people they chose for the movie... Maybe it was another case of me not paying attention to age haha!
    I actually wish I could re-read this but... SO long. Maybe I can re-read on audio at some point in time. I didn't enjoy it a lot the first time around, but I feel like I'd be much more receptive to it now than when I first read it (and yes, coming off a Twilight high LOL!)

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    1. Actually, I think they were! Ian is supposed to be a little older, I think, as is Jared. It's been a month since I've read this, so I'm entirely sure. But yes, I do hope you re-read this! It's really good, or at least I thought it was!

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  7. I wish I could get more people on board with this book. But people hear "Stephenie Meyer" and shut down. It's SO good! I've read it at least three times and was super excited for the movie. And the movie didn't let me down. It was different than I expected, but not *bad*. I enjoyed it.

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    1. I'm happy to be one of the people who will tell people they should read this book in spite of whatever pre-conceived opinions they have about the author. It's seriously a good read!

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