Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Host--Overview and Chapter One

So I've decided, since we're so close to the end of NIC and ANYTHING, frankly, is a good pallate clenser at this point, that we're going to start doing The Host now.

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?
Fords is doing an "insertion" in front of a whole room full of medical students. He is irritated because he's in a human body and these emotion things are just SO HARD for a soul to deal with. The medical students are here because they're doing an insertion on a "wild human".

...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.


  1. ...anti-humanist? Dare I ask what that is supposed to mean?

  2. Stephenie Meyer has been VERY loudly accused of being an anti-feminist writer, due to Twilight being what Twilight is (...get married, have kids, extra marital sex will kill you, ect. ect.) Meyer has answered that she's not anti-feminist, she's anit-human. That she believes human beings are scum and not very good things, and that's why the Cullens in Twilight and the Souls in the Host are these paragons of virtue when compared to pitiful, weak and violent humanity.

    I think she even has that up on her website somewhere.

  3. But the Cullens are terrible people. They are self-centred, petty, selfish, and self-indulgent. They spend a lot of time talking about how wonderful they are, but they never actually DO anything good. The closest these unbelievably rich people with their own private island ever come to charity is to give their cast-off clothes to the poor. Their cast-offs.

    1. See the part up there where I talk about Stephenie Meyer not seeing anybody who isn't rich, white and Mormon. I know these people. I went to chuch with these people. I serve these people drinks all the time. One of them gave me their old phone because they had a new one and figured that we'd be HAPPY to have a used year old smartphone.

      The cast-off-clothes thing is HUGE in church charity, fyi, and I'd probably want to live in the Cullen's Forks so I could go shop at the local Goodwill.

      The point is not that they are good people. The point is that Stephenie Meyer sees them as good people. In her universe Good People are rich, successful and write checks to charities.

      And FYI in Mormonism, as in Prosperity Gospel, material wealth is a sign that God loves you and blesses you and that you are Doing Something Right. If you are not well off, God does not love you and you need to repent of your non-Mormony/sinful ways (Depending on if the Word of God is coming from the Temple in Utah or Peter Popoff) and send the preacher a bigger check. It's UTTER Bullshit (Jesus Christ, the son of God, the person we are all to imulate as a follower of Christ, was HOMELESS, and he took care of homeless people) but it is what people are taught. And unless you are real smart, observant, and capable of massive amounts of self-awareness, you don't look past what you are taught.

      In that mindset, you're not donating castoff clothes to poor people. You're giving part of God's Blessing to people that God has chosen not to bless because they are Lazy, Evil People, and God will bless you for doing so.

  4. I have no objection to honestly earned wealth. But I will point out that in Christian theology there is a major figure who promises you worldy wealth if you love, honour, and obey him.

    And he ain't the Christ.

    "The point is not that they are good people. The
    point is that Stephenie Meyer sees them as good
    people. In her universe Good People are rich,
    successful and write checks to charities."

    Ah. So they're... Um... You know.

    You give your old wardrobe to charity? SO WHAT!? Whattaya want, a cookie!? You're not supposed to throw away good clothes!

    (Reply function doesn't work properly on this browser, which is why this comment is out of order.)

    1. If I have not made it really clear how much I HATE prosperity gospel...yeah.

      And when certain kinds of Christian, yeah, they do expect cookies and Heavenly Brownie Points. Because they're not in it for the spirituality. There's that part in the Gospels (I think it's one of the handful of passages that's in every single one) where Christ compares the dude that prays on the corner with the one who prays in the closet. Corner Dude does not come off very well. There's a big difference between driving up to Goodwill with a truckload of clothes and actively filling people's needs via sacrifical giving in ways that don't involve you getting your picture in the paper.

      Dr. Cullen especially. He could drop by the billing office any time he wanted and find out who is behind on their medical bills, and then pay them. If he can afford his own fucking island as Esme's b-day present, he could afford to make sure Jane Doe can afford her own heart transplant AND keep it quiet so he gets no credit. Or establish multiple anonymous schollership programs for disenfranchised people (like the Native Americans who are literally living RIGHT ON HIS DOORSTEP) (Not assuming that all Native Peoples need charity, it's just historically they are a demographic in very much need. If you want to take care of people you might as well start with the ones your ancestors fucked over.)

  5. FYI - That YouTube clip is longer than I thought. Relevant bit starts at about 2:15 and doesn't last long. Kind of ruins the impact.

    TL;DR version - The Cullens are a bunch of low-expectation havin' motherasteriskers.

  6. The cullens could raise cattle but they would rather eat endangered animals. They tolerate human drinking vampires and sit around being rich all day. They suck. Hehehe get it?