Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: The Host

Melanie was one of the last humans left.  She lived the life of a hunted fugitive, on the run from them.  They look like people, they act like people, they talk like people - but Melanie knows better.  They aren't people anymore.

Wanderer is something of a celebrity among her kind.  She has lived nine lives on nine different planets, each time in a different host body.  She is a parasitic life form - she combines with and takes over the body of another being in order to survive.  With her people, she has been spreading out across the galaxy, colonizing planet after planet.  Now, she has come to Earth - and Melanie's body.

But something goes wrong - Melanie doens't disappear.  Instead, Wanderer finds herself tormented with Melanie's voice and Melanie's memories of a man called Jared, another surviving human.  Before long she finds herself setting off to find him, determined to discover him and turn him in to the rest of the aliens.  What she discovers is a rebel cell in the middle of the desert... and she begins to wonder where to draw the line between Melanie's emotions and her own...

Entertainment: ★★★★★

I think a good word to use might be gripping.  Or maybe even enthralling.  I read this book until some ridiculously early hour in the morning, telling myself "Just one more chapter.  Just one more," over and over again.  I could not put it down.

Plot: ★★★

There wasn't much plot, I have to admit.  This story centered more around character interactions and introspection than action.  However, I loved the climax, I thought the ending was decent, and I thought the love triangle was well done.  Actually, I loved the love triangle.  See, Jared and Melanie are in love.  And Ian is in love with Wanderer.  Except, since Wanderer and Melanie are in the same body... there's issues.  Plus Wanderer isn't sure how to feel about anybody involved.  I thought that a) the romantic interactions were well done, and b) it was a nice creative take on the triangle (er, square?) scenario.

Characters: ★★★★

I loved Wanderer to death - a wonderful protagonist.  Ian was adorable, my favorite male lead by far.  I do wish Melanie could have been fleshed out a bit more - she liked Jared, and her brother Jamie, and other than that I know next to nothing about her.  Also, I didn't think Jared was done particularly well; I couldn't see what the appeal was as far as love interests are concerned.  But Jared and Melanie aside, I thought the rest of the cast was excellent.  This is one of those rare books where yes, the main character changes and grows and all that, but so do the side characters.  That's always nice to see.

Writng: ★★★

I got heartily sick of the phrases "I cringed," "I flinched," etc.  Wanderer seems to spend hours flinching and cringing, which got a little old.  Also, it was just a bit repetitious.  It wouldn't have been noticible in a smaller book, maybe, but when there's more than 600 pages I get a little bored with the same phrases and descriptions over and over again.

That said, the fight scenes were excellently written, and much of the emotional drama/trauma came off as fairly realistic.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

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