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The Host - Film Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published April 4th 2013
The invasion is here
Melanie Stryder has been on the run with her younger brother, Jamie, for a long time. Running from the creatures that have invaded Earth in order to keep control of what's rightfully hers, her body, mind and soul. The invaders; benevolent extra-terrestrial psychic parasites, called 'Souls'; take ownership of human bodies through implantation, and Melanie and Jamie have been lone humans, until they come across Jared Howe.

Melanie and Jared, brought together with the common purpose of survival, fall hard for each other as they continue on the run, looking after Jamie. One night, when Jared is out scavenging, 'the Seeker' comes looking for Melanie and her brother, and, when Melanie runs to lead them away from Jamie's hiding place, she leaps through a high-set window to evade capture and implantation. Rather than the death she was aiming for, Melanie survives, to be infused with a soul called 'Wanderer'.

But when Wanderer comes to Melanie is still there, and the fight for her body begins.

The Host (2013)
The Host (2013)

The Seeker begins to drill Wanderer, trying to gather information about other rebels of the human cause. Wanderer discovers that Melanie was captured while hiding and scavenging for food and that she's trying to block memories of Jamie and Jared from her, in order to protect them. Wanderer tells the Seeker of Jamie and Jared's existence, but refrains from telling her much else, including the fact that they were looking to join Melanie's uncle, who was said to have created a safe haven in the desert.

Wanderer loses control of Melanie and the Seeker decides to put Wanderer in a different body and be inserted into Melanie herself, in order to better retrieve information. With the help of Melanie, Wanderer escapes and makes her way to the desert, driven by her/Melanie's feelings for Jamie and Jared, where she is found by her/Melanie's uncle and is taken into a series of underground caves, the safe haven, where Jamie and Jared now reside.

But Wanderer isn't trusted, and is kept prisoner in a small cave where Jared stands watch, his hatred burning for the Soul inhabiting his beloved's body. How can Wanderer show the humans that she wants to help? How can she gain their trust enough to tell them that she's brought their Melanie home?

The Host (2013)
Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder/Wanda in the 2013 Hollywood film The Host.

The Host (2013) was written and directed by Andrew Niccol, based off the 2008 novel, The Host, by Stephenie Meyer (of Twilight fame). It stars Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder/Wanda, Max Irons as Jared Howe, Chandler Canterbury as Jamie Stryder, Jake Abel as Ian O'Shea and Diane Kruger as the The Seeker. The Host was released in cinemas on the 29th of March, 2013, to mediocre reviews. It currently holds an 11% 'rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 91 reviews, despite holding a 59% 'liked it' audience rating.

The Host (2013)
Saoirse Ronan and Max Irons as Melanie Stryder and Jared Howe in the 2013 film The Host.

The Host (2013)
Saoirse Ronan and Jake Abel as Melanie Stryder/Wanda and Ian O'Shea in the 2013 film The Host.

I have been aching to see this movie since before it was even planned to be a movie. I have been aching to see this movie since I read the book, The Host, by Stephenie Meyer, and fell in love with it. I will mention this here, I am not part of either of the Twilight 'love it' or 'hate it' crowds, but I did read the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer and I found the books entertaining enough, leading me on to read her standalone novel, The Host.

The Host was published in 2008 with reprints being made in 2009 and 2010 (the 2010 version has an extra chapter in it told from another character's perspective of a very crucial scene) by Sphere Publishing, an offshoot of Little, Brown & Company. I own the 2010 version. The novel is Meyer's fifth, and her first away from the characters of the Twilight series. Of course, the Twilight series contains the four novels: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn and also the novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.

The storyline is an unusual one, and although it sounds quite sci-fi, it is also a romance, coming-of-age, adventure and fantasy novel. Wanderer (or Wanda as she is later re-named) learns what it means to be human while she inhabits a human body and co-possesses a human mind. She learns, from the first moment she opens her eyes after implantation (which is almost like being born or reborn, with the Soul 'remembering' the former tenant's last ever memories then all other memories from times before) what senses, feelings, and the concept of 'life' is, and is then driven by these things and her growing relationship with Melanie, to seek out the very beings that she finds her heart, mind and limbs aching for; Melanie's brother Jamie, and partner Jared.

Wanda/Melanie find a small community of humans in hiding (including Jamie and Jared), that have escaped implantation and attempt to start a new 'life' there. Wanda/Melanie have to deal with abusive and suspicious humans, the mixed feelings of romantic love towards two separate humans, the feelings of belonging, loss and the ever-constant issue of 'who does the body belong to?'

The Host (2008)
My personal copy of The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host was one of those books that I hated to put down. It kept me entertained and was heart-wrenching, dramatic and personal; and strangely enough, was very easy to relate to. It dealt with very human issues as well as issues that we as humans do not necessarily think of. I really liked the film adaptation as well. I fell in love with Jake Abel's representation of Ian O'Shea, Wanda's love interest, and the sweet Chandler Canterbury as Jamie. I felt that Saoirse Ronan and Max Irons were strong in their leads and Diane Kruger made a mean Seeker. The scenery was perfect, the dirt and dust was perfect, the setting was perfect.

Even if you are not a fan of the Twilight series, you should give The Host a chance. It is completely separate from the Twilight series and has a brilliant concept. If you are a fan of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, then definitely read and watch The Host.

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