This book has been getting mixed reviews on the book blogs -- some people love it, others not so much. I have to admit that I didn't have much interest in it, aside from reading the jacket flap at the bookstore once. But a friend offered to loan me her copy and I figured if I didn't have to buy it or wait in a hold line for it, I'd read it.
It sat on my nightstand for two months, until Becky decided to use it as her book for her book group this month. I figured this was my reason for actually getting it read (and getting it back to my friend!). I started it, then about 14 chapters in, I realized I had other books due at the library, so I put this one down and read three other books. And I didn't miss it. I finally picked it back up a few days ago and have been reading it in snatches ever since. I wasn't gripped by it -- not like Twilight, anyway -- and it wasn't until the last 150 or so pages that I actually really liked the book.
The plot is really convoluted to explain (I tried explaining it to Hubby, but it took a long time and a lot of questions for him to ever make sense of it). From the start, I felt like it was a Star Trek rip-off, and thanks to Natasha at Maw Books, I relized that was because Star Trek: The Next Generation actually did an episode fairly similar this. (I even remember watching that episode.) It also has Invasion of the Body Snatcher overtones, as well as other space drama influences. Given that the story itself is not original, the perspective of the book is: the main character is the alien, Wanderer (I hate the nickname they gave her: Wanda. Bleh.), and the events are from her point of view. Like Twilight, the innovation in Meyer's work isn't the plot or the characterization, but rather the method of telling the story. We're made to sympathize (and sympathize I did... I really liked Wanderer) with what is supposed to be the enemy.
As for the whole "science fiction for those who don't like science fiction": this is no more science fiction than, well, Star Trek: TNG, which is more space drama than anything. (For back up here, go read Julie's post on science fiction movies.... I really need to go see Wall-E.) This isn't science fiction. Not by a long shot. More... paranormal romance. But then, the romance isn't really romantic (sweet, nice, interesting, but lacking in, well, romance). More like paranormal contemporary drama with a bit of kissing thrown in. (But, as a publisher, how do you market something like that? Then again, it's Stephenie Meyer. Her name has probably sold a lot on it's own.) That didn't bother me; I didn't expect much else from Meyer. (Definately not science fiction.) I did like the relationships, though -- not so much Jared and Melanie, but the other ones. I liked the relationship Wanderer had with her "host" (even though she wasn't supposed to have one); I liked the people she met once she got to the caves, and the conflict there. But, I felt like she took too long getting where she needed to go; the pacing was very uneven. This book is a huge rock that takes a really long time to get going, but once it gets going it rolls pretty fast. Except it plateaued for me about two-thirds of the way through, and didn't pick up again until the very end.
Still, I have to admit that Meyer has branched out (some -- I think she's still writing basically the same story, just a different setting) and is trying to broaden her base. I have to give her credit for that.