Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stephenie Meyer Nailed "The Host"

By Nichole Giles

Well, I finally got to it. After months of whittling down the never-ending pile of books on my dresser, I finally got to read The Host.

I have to admit, I was worried, for more than one reason. First, I was concerned at the size. A book that big is either going to so engross you that you can’t concentrate on anything else, or drag on so long that you can’t stand to finish it—or if you do finish, it takes a month. I’m going to be honest, I don’t have a month to dedicate to one single book—unless it’s my own. And I’ve been hesitant to open a book that will consume my mind when I have about fifty other things I should be working on—though it was so tempting.

Another thing that deterred me was my love for Stephenie’s Twilight series. I loved her vampire / werewolf world, but that was a fantasy. And it was such a wonderful success, I wasn’t sure I wanted my opinion of her writing to be diminished in any way. I worried that her attempt at science fiction would leave me disappointed. Also, I’d heard mixed opinions on The Host.

Then there’s the thing. The one big thing—actually, come to think of it, the same reason I put off reading Twilight. Those idiotic thoughts running through my brain (this is called closed-mind syndrome, and we all get it from time to time) that made me think, “Ew, invasion of the body snatchers? That doesn’t sound appealing at all.” Except when it was Twilight, I thought, “Ew, vampire romance? No thanks.”

So, it is with humble chagrin that I admit how wrong I was on all accounts. The Host was every bit as brilliant and wonderful as Twilight. It had romance, and friendship, and impossible relationships—even a love triangle of sorts.

The size wasn’t bad once I got started. I read the entire thing in about three days. Not quite as quickly as I read Twilight, but considering that I was sick in bed then, and that this time I had to keep up on other writing / editing projects as I read The Host, I thought that was pretty great.

Stephenie proved to be every bit as brilliant writing science fiction as she is writing fantasy. Her characters are well developed, her plot continuing forward at a steady pace, and the conflicts always present, even hovering at the edges of thought. Her writing is engrossing and full of emotion and feeling.

So, that brings me to my last point. I will never doubt one of Stephenie Meyer’s books again. But not for reason’s you are thinking.

Being a writer myself, and an avid reader, I’ve learned a lot about the way authors work. I’m going to use Nora Roberts as an example. The first book I read of hers was brilliant, and wonderful, and I was an instant convert. Of course, I went right back to the library and picked up five more, which I read in the period of about two weeks. I continued this pattern until I’d read all the Nora Roberts books in two libraries. Then I started buying the other ones. After having read twelve or thirteen, I finally got a trilogy that was one of Nora’s earlier works. This trilogy was wonderful too. Well-developed characters, a complex plot, fantasy elements, all of it. But I could tell it was an earlier work. Part of it was wording, I think, and lack of certain details I’d come to know of Nora’s work. And there was just something about the entire series that told me it was years old.

My point is, I didn’t think any less of the earlier series because I read it after several of her later ones. But I was able to see certain elements of style and description in some of her books that weren’t necessarily present in earlier ones. She started out as a brilliant, talented author. Her books were loved for a reason, and with every book she has written, she’s become better. The first ones were wonderful, and each consecutive book got better.

That’s how Stephenie Meyer is for me. Twilight was brilliant. New Moon was better, and so full of heartache and emotion that I couldn’t help but bawl. Eclipse was action packed and full of even more of that emotion I’d loved in the first two. And Breaking Dawn was the perfect finish for the series, even though the end fizzled just a bit. It was the all time most-happy vampire / werewolf ending.

I’m not saying The Host was better than the others, because it’s very different in so many ways. But Stephenie’s writing style is very present, still there, and her ability to inject large amounts of emotion into her story is strong and true. I’m constantly impressed with her creativity and her fresh new ideas that will continue to suck readers in on the first page, and keep them engrossed until the very last. By the time I finished, I was disappointed that the story was actually over. I might have read it through a second time if my fifteen-year-old son hadn’t taken it from me. (And he’d already read it twice!)

What else can I say, except, way to go, Stephenie. Thanks for creating such inspiring and entertaining stories. You deserve your own happy ending.

The Host receives five diamonds!


ali said...

I loved The Host. I loved the Twlight series too. But I really felt Meyer shows growth as a writer in The Host and I loved to see that. It was awesome.

Glad you finally got to read it Nichole - and that you loved it too!

BTW, I'm also a fan of Nora Roberts. *U*

the captain said...

thanks for your review . i confess i feet the same about body snatches but duh, i also felt that way about vampires in my PT days. Pre-Twilight. So i think i'll grab me a copy of The Host in the sales. thank you again.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I will definitely be reading this one - I was worried that it might be scary, but I've been assured it's not.

Lori Conger, said...

I am just finally getting my hands on the last of the Twilight series, so I haven't considered reading The Host yet, but thanks for the encouragement. I've had some of the same fears, so I'll have to let them go and just enjoy anotehr great book from a fabulous author.