Daring Reads — The Host

Have you read the vampire books by Stephenie Meyer? The teen vampire werewolf romance books by Stephenie Meyer? Me neither.

Okay. I did read them. A bit. Because they’re set in the Northwest and Ms. Meyer went to BYU so I feel some sense of loyalty. I was just going to dip my toes in and read a bit so I knew what everyone was talking about. That was a year ago. In August when book 4 is released, I’m going to Port Angeles with some girlfriends, staying up all night reading Breaking Dawn and tooling around Forks with the other tween wannabe mom-type people, visiting the various spots where Bella and Edward formed their bond of passionate and forbidden vampiric high school love. We picked a hotel in Port Angeles because it had a bookstore nearby that was willing to stay open until midnight on August 1st.

I wouldn’t call the Twilight books great literature but they are incredibly gripping page-turners and something about them makes me squeal like a wee girl, all the while rolling my eyes and saying, “I’m way too old for this.” And then I do things like book hotel rooms and beg bookstore owners to stay open until midnight.

Anyhoo, I recently read Stephenie Meyer’s first attempt at Adult Fiction, The Host and I was pleasantly surprised. While the teen series was fast moving and an engrossing narrative, it felt like purely a brain vacation. Packed with adjectives about the magnetically attractive hunkishness of Edward’s each and every bodily feature, from his chiseled passionately pulsing pectorals to the oh-so-steamy third-from-the-center eyelash over his liquid-gold left eye, I would classify the series as fun fluff.

The Host had a different feel. Although romance was a big factor and the book had its fair share of hot moments, it focused on deeper themes. War, intolerance, human cruelty, and alien medical procedures are just a few. The book made me think and feel and consider how I treat people. It was also really inventive and kept me guessing what would come next.

Stephenie Meyer kicked it up a notch as a writer and storyteller in the Host, which made the Twilight series seem like a warm-up exercise. I’m excited to see what she does next… that is after she’s finished writing a gazillion sequels.

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33 Responses to Daring Reads — The Host

  1. Elizabeth Hosto says:

    My husband grew up in Forks and friends and family have been bugging me to read the Twilight series for a while now. I finally got around to it just last month and I agree with you completely, total fluff but it was awful fun to read. A good friend of mine explained it to by saying she wasn’t all that thrilled with the story, it is tween fiction after all, but she loved the way it made her feel, like she was a teen again herself with all those firsts to experience, which when you are married with a couple of kids those firsts seem along time ago and very far away. I just bought The Host, my sister really enjoyed it, but I think I will wait and finish the Twilight series first before diving in to her adult fiction venture. Have fun in Port Angeles and Forks, there is plenty to see and do on the Olympic Peninsula, besides stay up until midnight for a book release!

  2. Firebyrd says:

    I totally agree. The Twilight series is fun fluff. I call it very soft girly porn because of how twittery and swoony all the first-love stuff is for girls. For the hardcore romance novel readers, it probably does nothing, but for someone like me who avoids romances at all costs, it works, and it would definitely cause those feelings in the target audience.

    I wasn’t expecting much out of The Host, but wow. Wow and a half. I was blown away by it. It was so poignant and sad, I had to reread it immediately after finishing to get a different perspective on it after the ending, and I almost never do that with books. There’s nothing wrong with being a fluff writer, especially when it pays the bills as it has done for Stephanie, but The Host makes it clear she’s going to have some real meat in her writing to enjoy as well.

  3. Janssen says:

    Now I’m really anxious to read the Host! Too bad I’m like. . .number forty-three in line at the library.

  4. grammyelin says:

    You are “one wild and crazy girl” … and I love you.

  5. Becky says:

    I am a closet Stephenie Meyer fan. I don’t feel that I can say it in polite company, especially not when people ask me what the books are about. Anyway, moving on. So, I did something I never do. I am a library girl. But I couldn’t wait to read the next book so I went to Target (bless them for cheap books) and BOUGHT the next several books. And her new adult fiction. And now I have to put bookshelves in my room so that casual friends who come over won’t ask awkward questions.

    I will be up all night August 2. I have pre-ordered. <> But I don’t live anywhere near you, so I’ll have to just read it in the hot, dry Colorado climate. And pretend I know what green looks like. And rain. My kids think umbrellas are for sun protection and make great indoor tents.

  6. Madame Queen says:

    I love love love the Twilight books. When my SIL first told me about it I was like, seriously? But then I was hooked. I can’t wait for Breaking Dawn and I’m intensely jealous of your trip.

    Honestly, The Host didn’t really intrigue me, but based on your recommendation, I’ll definitely check it out.

  7. allysha says:

    I have to admit I have absolutely no desire to read The Host. Maybe you’ll change my mind. But I don’t know.

    I was flipping back through New Moon because Ben had picked it up and was a little baffled by it and I had to laugh.

    Compelling? Yes. Total girl cotton candy.

    Silly? double yes. triple yes.

    They crack me up.

  8. I love anything vampire–I watch all the movies religiously and Fright Night is the first I remember watching when I was young, but I haven’t read any vampire books. I must read some now! Thanks for the peek into the NW vampire scene!

  9. Awesome Mom says:

    I just started reasing this series and am waitingfor one of my sisters to bring me the third book so I can rip right through it. I agree that they are brain fluff, but they are a good read.

  10. Keryn says:

    I totally agree about…well, about everything. The Host totally surprised and impressed me. Twilight series is fun fluff, exactly. But The Host STILL makes me think. What a talented woman.

    And how fun to go to Forks! I google-stalked it right after I read the first three books.

  11. Isabel says:

    I can fight it no longer…today I start “Twilight”.

  12. Shalee says:

    Methinks I have a new book to add to my list… Thanks, Kathryn!

  13. Eve says:

    I agree with you
    I agree.

  14. The Wiz says:

    Eh, I liked The Host alright, I think you liked it more than I did. I didn’t think it was amazingly great. It is worth reading, though.

    What struck me was how Mormon she is. (Not a bad thing, I’m Mormon too) She’s writing about people in what is essentially a bomb shelter, going out for supplies on a regular basis, and not one of them is jonesing for some really great coffee, a cigarette, or some “decent wine for a change!”

    I thought that was funny. Not bad, not good, but funny. Maybe it’s because I had recently been reading about WWII and everyone was dying for real coffee or decent tea when everything was rationed, and here are these fictional people thinking bologna is the best!

    Maybe it was an accident, maybe it was just her drawing on her experience, where she clearly abstains from these things, or maybe it was on purpose so she could make a statement, but it actually made it seem less real to me. (I know, I know, the whole thing’s about aliens, and the lack of complaining about coffee in the morning makes it seem less real? I KNOW!)

    It actually struck me in Twilight too, no, it was New Moon, I think, anyway, when Bella’s flying back from Italy, and keeps ordering Cokes to keep her awake because she has little tolerance for caffeine. Um, OK, Bella, did you know there’s coffee on airplanes? With LOTS of caffeine?

    It’s a minor complaint, I know, and not really a “complaint”, really , just an observation. Anyway, I enjoyed feeling like I was 15 again with the Twilight series, I’ll get the fourth one, and am selling my copy of The Host on half.com if anyone wants it.

  15. Becky says:

    Lol, your post reminds me of when I used to go to the library with my younger sister (6 years younger than me) and have her check out Sweet Valley High books for me because I was embarrassed to be reading them at my age. 🙂


  16. Rachel says:

    I wish she would have stepped it up a notch for the teenage girls too. My 16 yr old sister has read each book from the twilight series SEVEN times. I excitedly read it (could only plow through the first two before the fluffiness started getting to me) thinking there must be something life changing in it. Nope, just a bunch of oogling at a completely unrealistic perfect boy/man? and too much idealized teenage angst. I’m still trying to sort it out but it just doesn’t seem helpful, inspiring such undying devotion to characters that, to me, lack depth and morality. I want to be invited to look at the world more clearly, even in fun fiction. I think it’s possible and wish she could have pulled it off. Honestly, I guess I’m more worried about my sister who compares everyone to Edward and surprise surprise they come up wanting, and my 30 yr old friends who buy their kids bibs that say, “Feed me please, my mom is reading the twilight series (again).” It’d be funny if it was a joke, but it’s not! Oh my I could go on and on…

  17. bon says:

    Ha! Reading the first bit of your post, I was getting prepared to call you a freak or a liar… but I see that in reality, you are the same brand of sucker (get it) as myself and every other female I know.

    Sigh… there is just something about that Twilight.

    Spoiler Alert!:

    As far as The Host goes, yes it was a titch deeper, and very much a page turner, but I gotta say, if she pulls an interspecies love triangle (two hunky, awesome guys in love with the same girl) out of her bag o’ ticks even one more time…. bleahhh! Sure, one could argue that it ain’t exactly the same thing, Host to Twilightsville… I’m just saying that it was THAT aspect that I liked the very least about her first series. Didn’t want to explore it again, even with the alien twist.

  18. Lori says:

    That reminds me of all the hoopla over the Harry Potter books! I really wish I had gone to the release parties! I’m glad you’re going to though. I’ve never heard of that author. I just might have to check her out.

  19. I feel like being someone our age and reading the Twilight series is akin to watching reality tv when it first came out. “Do I watch Survivor? No, of course not!” (all the while knowing who just got voted off and why.)

    Then finally admitting to reading it feels a bit like an AA confessional (I’m assuming, having never given an AA confessional). “Yes, I’ve read them. And there’s nothing wrong with that.” Good for you for both reading and admitting to reading.

    I too have read them, the whole time feeling a strange mixture of abject humiliation and the inability to put them down. But I’ve heard the first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem 🙂

  20. phyllis says:

    i also just finished “the host.” i couldn’t put it down! i thought it started off a little slow but by the end i was riveted. i thought the story was an excellent jump from the twilight series to the grownup market. (i am still waiting for the second twilight book to come in for me at the library…maybe i should just bite the bullet and buy a used copy) nice to see someone else is reading what i’m reading:-)

  21. Shellie says:

    Sounds very interesting. I read the vampire books to my daughter, and got the same impression. Seems she knows how to write to her audience.

  22. Renaedujour says:

    My book club read one of the teen novels. I didn’t read it but then went and discussed it anyway because they serve good food.
    I just got back from the Port Angeles area– if the weather holds up it will be spectacular. I can’t even imagine what little Forks is going through with all this attention. They’re going to have vampire want-to-be’s in logger bars for the next 15-plus years.

  23. Renaedujour says:

    Oh… and Forks will have nice people like you peering into but not entering logger bars… and taking photos on street corners. 🙂

  24. TJ Hirst says:

    Is The Host appropriate for Young Adult readers? My 14-year-old daughter who just now read the Twilight series has reserved it at the library. Maybe I should read it first?

  25. Brooke says:

    So glad you reviewed The Host. I was wondering if it was going to be worth reading. I enjoyed the Twilight series but mostly because it was like taking a mental vacation. I trust your judgement, so I’ll check out The Host.

  26. kelly says:

    Enjoyed your take on the books. After reading your review, I think I’ll agree, The Host is meatier.But it ain’t juicier. I’ve read em all, but not proudly. The host was my least favorite, and I think it is because the Twilight books were so swoon-inducing. (also, I don’t read romances, so maybe I could swoon more often if I did). The host didn’t do that for me. The idea was great, though. If you like aliens and stuff. Which I don’t. Much.

    The Forks trip sounds really great. I wonder if there was some sort of girly camping sleepover in the desert here in AZ before the host came out?

    My review: http://diversifiedbeeson.blogspot.com/2008/05/what-kind-of-stephenie-meyer-reader-are.html

    Nice blog!

  27. Amy says:

    LOVED the Twilight series, despite the fluff. Hmm, maybe BECAUSE of the fluff.

    How cool is it that you can go to Port Angeles! I would be there; honest, if it were just a tad bit closer and gas prices a whole lot cheaper.

    Having bought the Host weeks ago, I finally picked it up last night 🙂 What timing! It’s had mixed reviews here at the Orem Public Library so I am, #1 so glad you liked it, #2 even more anxious to finish it tonight.

    Have you read Clare Dunkle’s Hollow Kingdom trilogy. Yes, it STAYED a trilogy, unlike some other author we know. Good stuff.

    …recommendation courtesy of your fellow OPL’r Teen Fiction Addictee.

    ciao bella

  28. Sara says:

    TJ Hirst: I don’t think there’s anything terribly objectionable about these books (but I LOVE them, and I’m a freedom-to-read Librarian-to-be). If you’re concerned, sure, read them first- they are fabulous. Or go to http://www.commonsensemedia.org and search for the books there– they have a pretty good list of possibly objectionable material.

    As for the rest of you: I describe these books as brain candy with added calcium. Yep, they’re fluffy and fun, BUT they also have a lot of literary techniques that kids sometimes have trouble understanding, like foreshadowing. The philosophical issues of choice and free will are also really interesting to discuss, if you’re into that sort of thing.

  29. lainakay says:

    It took me forever to finally read the Twilight series. I was not keen on the idea of a young adult novel about vampires.

    I did finally succumb but was resistant and critical through most of Twilight. Then I let go and wow, I’ll never regret it. I’ve read the series twice now and am looking forward to rereading it before the fourth comes out.

    It’s a treat… not a guilty pleasure. I will apologize to no one. I adore these books. I love the way they make me feel. Delicious… like chocolate with no calories.

    I really enjoyed The Host, too. Can’t say I got lost in it the way I did with Twilight but it was definitely a good read.

    Have fun in Forks! Relax on a gnarly piece of driftwood in LaPush for me!

    Love that Stephenie! I hope she keeps ’em coming!

  30. Coco says:

    I just now read this and even 15 days later I have to add my 2 cents.

    I love, LOVE the Twilight series. It wraps me into its little world of vampires and teen lust like no other book ever has. I’m not into sci-fi but I love Stephenie Meyer’s writing style. I cannot wait for the 4th book to be released and am majorly jealous of your Forks vacation.

    I liked the Host. It was good but not great. I would probably recommend it to others but I don’t worship it in the same way that I worship the Twilight series.

  31. Isabel says:

    So tell me…how do I get invited to this awesome weekend of Twilight goodness?

    Also, will Edward be staying in the same hotel? I’m just wondering…..

  32. Yuka says:

    a complete page turning all consuming guilty pleasure like you said. i have very low expectations of the upcoming film (mostly because in my minds eye Edward looks like Sam Riley the actor in Control:


    and I don’t want my image of him blurred by a WB dawson’s creek type movie

    love ya, I’m so sad to hear about your back. i’ll be thinking and praying for you.


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