One-Minute Book Reviews

March 16, 2009

2009 Delete Key Awards Grand Prize Winner — Stephenie Meyer’s ‘The Host’

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:02 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Stephenie Meyer’s The Host is the grand prize winner in the Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books.

Meyer’s novels exemplify the trend that Roy Strong, the former director of the of the Victoria and Albert Museum, called “the rise of the trashocracy.” The teenage vampire-romance series that began with Twilight led the 2008 bestseller lists. And next to Meyer, Mitch Albom almost looks like Isaiah Berlin.

It’s true that Albom’s For One More Day is written at a third-grade reading level while Meyer’s adult science-fiction novel, The Host, has a fourth-grade (9-year-old) reading level, according to the readability statistics that are part of the spell-checker on Microsoft Word. But if both books are dumbed-down, Albom can’t match the spectacular array inanities that have won the grand prize for The Host. Meyer’s unintentionally comic missteps range from mind-numbing redundancies (“It’s a voluntary choice”) to deeply purple prose and dialogue that might have come from television series called The Beverly Hillbillies in Outer Space. If this year’s Delete Key Awards were the Belmont Stakes, The Host would be Secretariat, winning by 31 lengths.

The Host has won the 2009 Delete Key Awards grand prize for lines like:
“It’s a voluntary choice.”

and

“He nuzzled his face against mine until he found my lips, then he kissed me, slow and gentle, the flow of molten rock swelling languidly in the dark at the center of the earth, until my shaking slowed.”

and

“ ‘Well, for Pete’s sake!’ Jeb exclaimed. ‘Can’t nobody keep a secret around this place for more’n 24 hours? Gol’ durn, this burns me up!’”

Other posts about the Delete Key Awards appear on www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

13 Comments »

  1. Wow. And I thought I sucked at writing.

    “He nuzzled his face against mine until he found my lips, then he kissed me, slow and gentle, the flow of molten rock swelling languidly in the dark at the center of the earth, until my shaking slowed.”

    I think that needs to be on a motivational poster or something. You know, so other writers can look up from their keyboards, see it, and remember that their competition is really, really terrible. I think it would be inspiring. Or, if anything, it give them a good laugh.

    Comment by Bissrok — March 17, 2009 @ 12:42 am | Reply

    • Every year when I hand out the Delete Key Awards, I look for writing that is almost comically bad, because otherwise the posts might be too disheartening to read. Thanks so much for getting it :).

      Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — March 17, 2009 @ 1:26 am | Reply

  2. I can not agree more with this winner. I’m assuming you have heard of this comment from Stephen King. But in case you haven’t, this is a quote from him from an interview from a magazine. “When asked about how his work may have influenced both Meyer and J.K. Rowling, King said the following: “Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

    Comment by Jillian — March 17, 2009 @ 3:12 am | Reply

    • Yes, I did hear of his comment (though by the time I did, I had already reviewed the book and had put Meyer high on the list of potential finalists).

      One of the interesting things about King’s comment is that King is normally one of the most generous authors in America to his fellow writers. He does much more to help them than many others do — not just by providing blurbs for books but in many other ways. So when he criticizes a fellow novelists, it means much more than it would if the remark came from someone who is less charitable.

      Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — March 17, 2009 @ 10:59 am | Reply

  3. […] for Mr Leary it’s Stephenie Meyer who gets the gong this year.  Specifically for her novel The Host. There are a couple of reasons given for it being designated […]

    Pingback by Good writing vs. bad writing « Christchurch City Libraries Blog — March 17, 2009 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

  4. I live in fear that I will write a lengthy 5-star review on Amazon of a book you will ultimately announce as a delete key award grand prize winner.

    Well hell, there was no chance of that happening this year. Nice choice.

    Malcolm

    Comment by knightofswords — March 25, 2009 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Malcolm. But I have a feeling you don’t give too many five-star reviews to books filled with lines like, “It’s a voluntary choice :).”
      Jan

      Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — March 25, 2009 @ 10:59 pm | Reply

  5. I have just slogged through the fourth and final (let’s hope!) Twilight series book. I wanted to know what happened next, but it was hard to spend five pages on plot that could have been summed up in five lines. I have analyzed some of my own published writing using Word statistics–I’m only slightly ahead of Stephanie. But will I have to waste quite so much paper to become a bestseller? Thank you for warning me away from The Host.

    Comment by carmenv — June 23, 2009 @ 11:27 pm | Reply

    • “Five pages on plot that could have been summed up in five lines” — Right … and that’s only one of the problems with Meyer’s writing.

      Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — June 24, 2009 @ 1:45 am | Reply

  6. Stephenie.

    Comment by carmenv — June 23, 2009 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  7. […] that Stephenie Meyer writes at a fourth-grade reading level … and that’s in her adult novel, The Host? You’ve gotten your excuse from the authors of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ […]

    Pingback by Bella the Doormat – Another Reason to Say Goodnight to ‘Twilight’? « One-Minute Book Reviews — September 16, 2009 @ 12:03 am | Reply

  8. […] (I will never fully understand the success of Stephanie Meyer or Danielle Steele, and thankfully I’m not alone), just as there will always be ridiculously talented folks who play only for their families or […]

    Pingback by Matchbox Music Review – Wooden Houses « The Matchbox: Resourcing Christians in the Arts — October 30, 2009 @ 10:00 am | Reply

  9. I found this place by chance. I started reading The Host to get some feel of Meyer’s writing, just to educate myself. Within the first 25 pages I came cross this gem:

    “My mind gave me the words I needed, and the tone that would convey what I couldn’t say without using many words.
    ‘Have I been placed in a damaged host in order to gain the information you need, Seeker?'”

    And that’s the end of the paragraph. So what was the tone of voice actually like? What was the intended nonverbal message? We’ll never know.

    Comment by timotaka — June 26, 2010 @ 2:45 pm | Reply


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