Title: Host

Author: Peter James

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 626

Rating: 3.5/5

I’m not going to lie, when I picked this book up I was expecting it to be a horror novel about vampires, and so I was kind of disappointed when that didn’t turn out to be the case. But at the same time, I’m hoping to eventually read everything that James has ever published, and so it was still cool to get to it.

On top of that, it turned out to be about immortality and the idea of uploading the human brain to a computer, which is a topic that I find fascinating because I love anything that’s to do with technology. I also like anything that’s to do with death as well, mostly because I have death anxiety and fiction helps me to deal with it. Those two should have combined to make this a huge hit for me.

But it wasn’t a huge hit, it was just a pretty good one. I think part of that is because it was published in the early nineties and so a lot of the tech was already out of date, though it’s not as though James claims that it was supposed to be future-proof. In fact, there’s an introduction where he talks about how the book came about, and in that he explained that he decided to set it in the present day, rather than trying and failing to predict technological development. That was a good call.

The characterisation and the plot are both pretty good, and the writing is competent though not outstanding. The thing is that I’ve read quite a lot of James by this point, and you can definitely see in his recent work that he’s come a long way in the thirty years or so that have passed since he wrote this one. That’s only natural.

It’s also kind of tricky to read for purely logistical reasons, because as well as being a long old book with a ton of pages to it, it also used super small print that left me squinting at it. I always find that that hampers my enjoyment, and I tend to rate based upon enjoyment because I think that all reviews are inherently subjective. I probably knocked a half point off because of that, although it’s hard to tell. It was floating around a 3.5 from start to finish.

To be honest, it’s one of those books where it’s just okay, and so while I’m glad that I read it, I can’t imagine it threatening to break into my top books of the quarter. That’s fine by me though, because there’s plenty more Peter James for me to read and his more recent Roy Grace stuff and some of the horror that he’s been working on really scratch my proverbial itch.

In the meantime, this will be of interest to anyone who likes these kinds of techno-thrillers, as well as to die-hard Peter James fans who just can’t get enough of his work. This is reminiscent in some ways of Michael Crichton, although I think that Crichton does it better, and it was way better than Dead Letter Drop, another one of his early efforts.

I also think that it helps to put the rest of his work into context. He’s really come a long way, and the dude has spent his entire lifetime honing his craft and getting better and better as time goes on. And so even though this book was just okay, it did make me super excited to see what he’s got coming up next, and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more of his new releases. Plus, they’re common charity shop fodder.

Learn more about Host.