The Host | Book + Film Review

The Host by Stephenie Meyer directed by Andrew Niccol.

Book: ★★★★★/★★★★★    Film: ★★★/★★★★★

Many people are saying this is basically a more NC-17 version of Animorphs. That cool series with Yeerks that are this insect like creatures that get inside you and control you. I am not going to complete agree with this, since there are obvious differences, however, Stephenie Meyer definitely read that series or someone close to her did. Seriously guys, go check the Animorph series because it is great. Thank you for introducing it to me Maggie!

Now, I loved this book. Even if you hate the Twilight series and the sparkly vampires, it has no relevance whatsoever to this book, they are in different genres. In fact I did not even believe they were written by the same author. Unlike her other series, the main characters here actually have depth, and are incredible to read. (my review of Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined for details on what I mean) The film, although unable to carry all of the book (since it is over 600 pages), brought forth the main plot of the story rather than focusing solely on the romance, which I was worried about. Considering we live in a society that is franchising a series which is all about how against franchising they are, I was expecting they would make this book as insipid as they could, luckily it did not happen this way. But a warning,  this film might appeal to people that have not read the book before seeing the movie. 

This is the story of Wanderer (yes that is her name), an alien that has been implanted into a girl named Melanie. It is about how Melanie refuses to fade away and becomes a conscience to Wanda, who has never known a mind has hers, as no other (except maybe one) species has resisted these creatures for so long. It is about family and love, and how a person can change their views once they see things with their own eyes. It is about how the love for certain people can change views engraved so hard that it has led to destruction of many. It is basically a cool science-fiction story that people refuse to read because it was written by that one lady that wrote about vampires that shine and werewolves that are not really werewolves. 

The main strength is the characters:

  • Wanderer aka Wanda/Melanie: in the book we know why that is her name, she has traveled so far but has yet to find the world she wants to live and die in, until Earth. Her species are survivors, yet when Melanie’s memories hit her like a tide wave, we see that she begins to feel love for the people Melanie loves, and this scares her. Love is not a rational feeling, and Wanda is drawn to do things she would not normally do, including lying. Not much of this is shown in the film, instead Wanda seems to be a doormat for everyone.  
  • Jared: I am so confused about him, because I understand his complexity, because he is one of the most conflicted about what to do with her, and I believe in the film it was very well represented. He felt hope and despair about her, because even though he wanted it to be her, he believed she would never come to him as she was. He felt as if Wanda was there to simply rob off on his face that she was the one occupying the body of his love, and off everything she took from him, but I am glad he somehow learns.
  • Ian: he is my little marshmallow, I loved him in the book and film. He is the most kind and beautiful person ever, he has a huge heart. I particularly love his compassion, and the way he loves. His character did not always show this trait, as in the beginning we have a very hard scene with him trying to do something he regrets greatly later on. He showed Wanderer what it was like to be loved, and it seemed to be the perfect gift she could have ever received.He is the perfect example that people can change. Kyle is his brother, and he is a nicer version of a sociopath. His character in the film was less of that, and I think it took a bit from his character, as in the end of the film I did not wanted a world of hurt for him as I did in the book. He was not redeemed in the book as much as he was in the film, and it just took from the experience, because I wanted him to suffer a bit more before becoming completely good. 
  • Jeb: smart and crazy uncle Jeb. He is an incredible side character, he is that one crazy guy that believes the apocalypse is about to happen and he must be prepared for it by living in some cave in the middle of the desert. The good thing is that the apocalypse did sort of happen, so his family is less inclined to believe he was cucu for cocoa puffs. He was not just crazy, but compassionate, and a follower of rules, as long as they were to protect people, so as to not turn into a monster. He believed in second chances, and was extremely curious. Perfectly portrayed in the film. 

The world-building here was not the best, it is not Lord of the Rings or His Dark Materials, and not A Game of Thrones, and I will not even go as far as to say that it can reach such levels; but for a person that took so long to develop the cool things I enjoyed in her other series, this was a huge improvement. 

I did also appreciate the small detail of a bit of body positivity, I think it is the first time I have read it from this author :“It’s not the face, but the expressions on it. It’s not the voice, but what you say. It’s not how you look in that body, but the thing you do with it. You are beautiful.” Yes, it is a stretch, but these small four sentences made me happy. 

Now from here on there will be spoilers, since I will be comparing things added to the film or not added to it and how I felt about it, so read if seen/ read or do not mind spoilers. 

Things added to the film I enjoyed:

  • The men that sacrifice themselves in order to protect the rest of the “colony.” It was their fault for speeding, but in the end it showed a side of humanity the aliens were not expecting, sacrifice for the well-being of others. 
  • The scene were Wanda tells Jamie that Melanie is still alive inside her, it is very beautiful, with all the glowworms, and it is a big scene to have them bond, which would explain a lot of his feelings towards her later on. It is on the book, but not as beautiful.

Things omitted from the film I did not enjoy:

  • The narration of the film at the beginning was not so well developed.  Yes, I know, fitting a 600-page story with world-building and character development is hard to introduce in the first 10 minutes of a film, but the narration style did not only make Melanie/Wanda seem insane in front of others, but also it shifted the story from the alien background and even the story of another  planet that protested the occupation by dying, for personal details of the lives of the characters that did not develop the plot much if at all.
  • I did not like the fact that she must escape her kind in order to search for her healer,unlike in the book, where she goes to get a consultation and gets side-tracked. It takes a bit off of the characteristics of the alien species, making them seem less human than they actually are. 
  • Character development is rushed. Again, I know, long book and all, but this is actually extremely rushed, particularly my favourite, Ian, who oh so suddenly develops the feelings he did with barely two or so interactions. 

My one issue with this series though: WHEN WILL THE SECOND BOOK BE RELEASED! BECAUSE I WANT TO READ IT BEFORE I DIE. 

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