The Host Book vs. The Host Movie: The Book Wins

Shayla Lugo, Staff Writer

After releasing the multi-million dollar book series, The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer has continued her career going to a science-fictional love story, The Host. The book was published in May 2008 and was then released as a movie on March 29, 2013. With fans awaiting the next Stephenie Meyer production, we can’t help but question: Will the movie stray from the written plot line or will it stick to the novel? When the answer was revealed, I was disappointed.

In the both the novel and the movie, the world is peaceful, there is no war, poverty or hate, but it is not our world anymore. Our bodies have been implanted by a foreign species that believe it’s helping us, but in the process we lose control of who we are, our own thoughts and our own actions. Almost all of the humans have been implanted except for those few who were able to escape. Assigned souls hunt for those who have escaped and sent out to implant them. They are labeled as Seekers, and the humans are forced to go in hiding because of them.

Melanie Stryder, a main character, is one who escaped with her younger brother, Jamie, and is eventually joined with Jared Howe. One night, while hiding out at an old hotel, Melanie sacrifices herself in order for her brother and Jared not to be found by the Seekers who found where they were hiding out. Melanie, in desperation to save her loved ones, jumps out of a window hoping to die before getting implanted and creates a diversion for Jared and Jamie to get away. Her last action may have saved Jared and Jamie, but she could not save herself. Melanie did not die and she was implanted with a soul named Wanderer. But Melanie does not giving up yet, although she can’t control her actions, she has not totally lost herself yet and can talk to Wanderer through her thoughts. She convinces Wanderer to go on a journey to try and find her brother and Jared, who she believes are in her uncle’s hideout in the desert, also known as the caves.

The setting of the movie perfectly creates the soul world; the caves were exactly as I imagined when reading the book. I have to commend the production crew; it was an extremely difficult setting to make. The screenwriter still put Wanderer in hiding when she first got into the caves, following the plot roughly, but to a reader of the novel it seemed like it was similar to a point, but was not the proper portrayal. Jamie Stryder, Melanie’s little brother, is 16 years old in the book, but in the movie he is no older than 10! This takes away from the plot because in the book Jamie gets hurt on his first raid (where the humans venture into the soul world to try to gather food and supplies) by stabbing himself with a pocket knife. This shows that he is not the little boy that Wanderer and Melanie still want him to be; this also showed how he grew up with the absence of his sister. The stab wound gets infected, and this is the turning point in the story.

Since souls have advanced in medicine all post-invasion medicines are disposed of, making the souls the only source of medicine and medical care. In the book, Wanderer convinces Jared to take her to get the medicine he needs; this is a big risk because she could give seekers their location, killing them all. During the raid, Jared gives Wanderer a pill which causes death when taken. This way if any of them were arrested, the Seekers would not be able to go into their memories and find where the others lived. This showed their the lengths that they would go to protect each other. When Wanderer comes back with the medicine, this establishes trust with the humans who reside in the caves.

Instead in the movie, Jamie stabs himself with a cutting tool while in the fields while getting corn. This takes away from the original plot completely. Although Jared still takes Wanderer on the raid, he does not give her the pill. Also, instead of Wanderer not knowing until he comes back, she knows right when it happens and sees he starts to show signs of the wound being infected, and they put it in the middle of an important bonding scene between her and Ian. In summary, it was just another scene that was too rushed for the audience to know how important it really was.

Also, in the movie, the first raid since Wanderer arrived at the caves went completely wrong. The script writers killed off two of the characters that did not die in the book, and they were killed by the Seeker, who was brought in way too early. Also the raid did not take as long as it should have. You would think it does not matter how much time was spent, but this took away from the viewer’s experience a lot.

Wanderer and Ian are slowly growing to like each other in the book; she still had the bruises on her neck from when he tried to kill her in the beginning when she was in captivity. The movie version does not mention it again and she has no bruises. This was just brushed aside, as if it did not matter! Any rational person would see that over a week, any girl, even as kind and caring as Wanderer is made to be, can’t be affectionate with a man who tried to kill her only days before. This also does not completely show the side of Ian that she learned to love; in the movie, he does not say he is sorry for the incident. In the book, Ian mentally beats himself up after trying to get close to Wanderer and noticing her shy away from him, he apologizes and thinks that he is not good enough for her. In the movie, they did not develop enough on their relationship, so it did not connect the audience with the couple.

Additionally, the casting was awful. Instead of being the strong girl Melanie is in the novel, she was cast as a frail-looking petite girl who honestly doesn’t fit her character.  Her high-pitched sweet sounding voice only adds to this. Additionally, at the end of the novel, Wanderer is a frail little girl with blonde hair and freckles, but is cast in the movie as a girl with high cheekbones and brown hair. Ian and Kyle were also off. In the book, they are described as 6-foot men with large muscles, which are expected because they did a lot of heavy lifting and building. Instead, the movie portrays them both as scrawny. They also were supposed to look strikingly alike with dark hair and blue eyes, but in the film they hardly look similar, have blonde hair, and are too young.

Over all, I think the movie was rushed, which did not let the characters develop, and the casting could have been much better. However, I have to admit, if I did not read the book, the movie would have been a good production. Although I would not have been connected with the characters, it is still an interesting plot line that just needed more depth.