Predictable & slow rehashing of Meyer's archetypes
I picked up The Host as a summer read. Unfortunately, the book felt like a rehashing of Meyer's Twilight series with a different setting and slightly older main characters. As her first published attempt at an adult novel, I had hoped for more mature writing, deeper character development, and more conflict, instead of problems being simply fixed in the end. Unfortunately, I didn't get that with this book.
Much like the books in the Twilight series, The Host uses dialogue and internal conflict to move its plot. However, this quickly became repetitive and therefore boring. The book was slow in the first 30 or so pages, but I'm a patient reader, so I kept on. Things picked up, only to slow miserably around page 200. While the writing style is a little more complex and varied than the Twilight series, there were many déjà vu moments. Meyer continues to overuse the words and descriptions of chagrin, hiss, snarl, demanding, reacting in horror, crowing, etc.
The characters are also too similar to her previous works. Most of the characters in this book, outside of Melanie and Jed, are provided little to no backstory and little to no development. The males in the book could easily be compared as Jared = Edward (the dangerous, controlling, but somehow alluring male), Ian = Jacob (the sweet, considerate male who's willing to give his love anything she wants, but who still does creepy things like kiss her when she doesn't want it), Doc = Carlisle (the compassionate, good doctor who couldn't hurt anyone and who's despondent when he does), and so on. The female character of Melanie/Wanda also plays on the same characteristics that Meyer created for Bella in that she's utterly consumed with the man in her life/lives, even when he physically or emotionally hurts her; she's willing to sacrifice herself and die for others and even jabs a knife into her arm willingly to help save someone else (fight scene in Eclipse when Bella slashes herself with the rock shard, anyone?). The main female character is also helplessly carried around by the men repeatedly in this book, much like the Twilight series. It seems as though Meyer's personal ideas about what she considers as a desirable male repeat themselves. There were times I actually put down the book and talked to it, saying, "C'mon, Meyer, are you capable of writing a different story?"
I think that this book could be a decent, mindless read if you have not read the Twilight series previously. It was just too difficult for me to ignore the similarities. I did like that The Host addressed larger themes of love, different types of love, sacrifice, survival, and the balance of the need for peace versus the need for resistant violence. I only wish these concepts could have been explored more deeply. And, just like my experience with the Twilight series (though I am loathe to admit it), I did want to keep reading to know what happened next. In sum, if you liked Meyer's story line and writing style before, you'll probably like this. Just don't expect anything earth-shatteringly different. As is no surprise, everything works out in the end and everyone's happy. Not that you couldn't figure out *exactly* how they would do that about 200 pages before it happens....