Aye, I'm sure that the topic of this post will likely cause some Twihards or Twilighters to come stalking my house, with T-shirts and jewelry and keychains of Edward in all his sparkly goodness. That or send Jacob through my doggy door.
I do like to poke fun at the latest craze that this seems to be, though I admit, I have my own die-hard literary loves myself. (Don't say a word about Lord of the Rings. Or I swear, I am so sending Gollum to haunt your shower. You hear?)
Truthfully, though, I don't hate on Twilight per say. As Stephanie Meyers' "breakout" novel (in that, so far as my research goes, Twilight was her first book to be published) I can accept the errors and issues that I noticed in the series. (Yes, I've read them. Don't shoot me.)
The first novel by Jennifer Roberson-- Shape-Changer -- was in relatively rough shape, and...LOtR fanatic that I am, Return of the King appears to have been put together in a much stronger, more vibrant fashion than the Fellowship.
However, I am quickly learning that even if an author seems to have issues with that first book, sometimes they can surprise you later. Roberson is one of my favorite fantasy authors, even if I hated her first book.
Therefore, I actually enjoyed The Host, written by Stephanie Meyers. It was released on May 6, 2008, when the Twilight wildness was in full swing. Because of all the hype, I didn't dabble into the book (though its premise seemed interesting) precisely because of the nasty taste in my mouth left from Twilight. However, I finally read it not too long after.
Without spoilers, as best I can, the basic idea was a mixture of The Body-Snatchers and numerous stories of aliens trying to "better our world". The kicker is that, when the "host" becomes part of the new body, old memories and personality are supposed to go away. Which, in the case of the MC in the book, they don't.
This is very much a sci-fi romance, with a twist. With two personalities existing in one body, and risks of danger to both parties from multiple sides, the conflicts are bad enough. Add in that the host and the body are in love with two different men, however, and the love triangle plotline takes on a whole new twist.
Besides the twisting, turning control of situations and emotions, the characters were vibrant and very real to me, with the MC and her host both with strong, well-rounded personalities that I enjoyed being with. A nice, refreshing bit of air compared to the (sorry Twihards) whiny Bella.
Stephanie Meyers also proved her ability to write was certainly there when she chose a difficult style/voice to write in as well. It's hard enough to write in first person, plus dealing with two personalities in the same body, and still make dialogue and thoughts appear distinctive. But she went one step further. Taking into consideration the situation and type of lifestyle that the host had experienced, the entire book is written in first person, present tense.
That is outstanding. It made the book really....sparkle. (yeah, yeah. I couldn't resist) It kept the feelings and emotions immediate, and suggested at all times that we were mostly in an alien mindset. In my humble opinion, she carried off this difficult style extremely well. I ceased to notice the present tense after a while, and never noticed the lack of knowing exactly what the other characters were thinking or feeling. (something that usually bothers me in first person books)
The plot itself twists and turns on itself, throwing in tension where necessary, and heart-warming or tear-wrenching moments in the next. As a whole, this is one book I'd give four stars to easily. But not five.
Though the book gets points for difficulty, interesting plot, surprising end, and other good things that make the book an excellent read, there are small spots that don't quite work. One is the mention of a "secret" from the host, seemingly out of the blue after several chapters. The others are milder--reactions that didn't quite jive, a "just happens" with the Seeker near the end of the book--but as a whole, the book was good enough that I was very well pleased. Enough to buy the hardback version.
My hope is that, now that the Twilight series of books have all been written, and the movies are off to a flying start, that Stephanie Meyers turns to more books like The Host, or at least far away from the vampire area. This is one author I'll keep my eye on for a while.