I decided not to do Twilight on this blog, ever, because everything that I could possibly say about it has already been said, by people who are much better at it than I am. But The Host has not been bashed as thoroughly as Twilight because it's actually a good novel. For the most part.
The last little bit, though, makes everything worth it.
Stephenie Meyer and talent should never be mentioned in the same sentence. Stephen King has famously commented that the difference between S. Meyer and J.K. Rowling is "Rowling can write." He is not wrong. S. Meyer is the Micheal Bay of books. She has a good grasp of storytelling rules. No, no, don't roll your eyes. If she didn't understand what she was doing on an instinctive level you would not be able to finish the books. The problem is that her grasp IS entirely instinctive. Just like Micheal Bay, S. Meyer doesn't have a good filter on her brain. Her books are like the abstract artwork that sometimes shows up at local art shows. It's kind of interesting, but compared to somebody who actually knows how to paint it really is low-level garbage. She doesn't consider story theme, character development, or people who may not agree with her POV. In Twilight, marrige and sex are for life, choice is not a thing, gay people don't exist--it's not that she protests against them. They don't exist at all.--and brown people become white. This is not expressed in the movies, but it's definately there in the books. People want to call it a statement, but while I may not be the right person to go to for a perspective on People of Color or non-normative sexuality, I think I know what goes on in the mind of the privelaged white chick. S. Meyer doesn't discuss under-privelaged people in her work because under-privelaged people don't exist in her universe. She literally does not think about them at all.
Which is why The Host is very perplexing. There is a fucking gorgeous theme in it that I do not think Meyer intended to write at all, any more than she intended to make Twilight into Mormon propaganda. I've read it twice, and both times I found myself liking 75% of it. When Meyer sticks to her sci-fi universe, it's a good book. When she dips into gender roles, everything goes off the rails. I don't remember any gay people, which makes no sense for reasons that will soon become clear, but there are moments where the book becomes actively thoughtful and thought provoking and good.
But it all gets fucked over by the end of it. And don't worry. The text is often a trudge through uninspired paragraphs of pretty nasty human hate. S. Meyer calls herself an avowed "anti-humanist" writer and oh, dear GOD is that ever clear in her intentional writing. It makes me absolutely sure that the positive in this book is entirely unintentional, like discovering swill has turned into champagne.
This is also a bit of a branching out for me, to see if I can keep things entertaining when I'm not indulging in nerd rage. So. Shall we dive in?
We are immediately introduced to a Healer named Fords Deep Waters. And by "Immediately" I mean his name is the first sentence. That's how the names are in this book. You have "Gee, this is not a human" names like Fords Deep Waters, Wanderer, Petals Open to the Sky, and you have human names like Bob, Jane and Kate. It gets confusing, sometimes.
Fords is a "soul". Hey, you want to know how long it takes for S. Meyer to trigger Applebloom's gag reflex? This is half of the second sentence in the book:
by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous, and full of love.
|Gee, Stephenie, subtle much?|
...please tell me S. Meyer's reading habits are better than I think they are. Please, oh please, oh, please don't hurt my childhood. Please...
The text calls "Wild humans" soulless. At no point does the text discuss WHY souls are calling themselves souls. And let me get this out of the way: I fucking love this concept. The antagonist force of the novel are creatures we would identify as morally good. The ONLY evil thing they do through the whole book is deny human beings a choice in things. It brings up many questions about the nature of choice, morality, and good and evil. Souls are world conquering pacifists, utterly against murder and yet capable of commiting mass xenocide. All because they deny the other creatures in space the right to choose their own fate.
This is written by Stephenie Meyer. I do not understand.
The girl was damaged somehow. Fords has healed her, and they are going to implant an exceptional soul in her body. Only now they refer to the body as the soul's body, not the host's. The soul has apparently traveled on almost every world the Souls have invaded. Fords hears the students gossiping about this and tells them all to shut up, and then he brings the soul out...and it's a glittery silver centipide, and I am going to just leave this here:
|This was my childhood. Right here.|
Fords spends time thinking about how he regrets what he's doing--apparently cutting open the neck to insert the soul "creates an injury" and he can't stand doing that. Folks, these guys must faint at the sight of blood--and how the "horror of this girl's end" will be the first thing the soul remembers. He calls the new soul "wanderer", wishes her good luck, and the chapter ends.
Next chapter: We meet our main character, and we find out how xenocidal pacifists can actually be a thing.