Hello, friends! Before I dive into today’s review, I want to share this awesome service that was recently recommended to me. I am a closet grammar nerd and so when I heard that you can use Grammarly to not only spell-check but also “grammar-check” your text, I was super excited. Naturally, I used Grammarly’s plagiarism check for this post because nerdgasms are fun and educational! ;)
Anyway, I debated for a while on reviewing this book/movie combo at all, but considering the fact that I can’t stop thinking about both the novel and the film, I figured why not share and see what you think. If you’ve read the book or watched the movie, let me know how you liked it!
The synopsis: “Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. But Wanderer, the invading “soul” who occupies Melanie’s body, finds its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Soon Wanderer and Melanie—reluctant allies—set off to search for the man they both love.” (source)
Neither one of them expected Melanie to survive inside her own body when Wanderer took up residence, but Melanie will not fade away, and now they must decide together who truly belongs.
At first, I thought the plot was rather predictable, especially given that I’ve read Stephanie Meyer’s previous works (a.k.a. “the Twilight saga”); but, despite the now-conventional paranormal love triangle, I found the subject matter to be unexpectedly thought provoking. The story offers so much more than the angst associated with a “love that could never be.” I think readers are getting tired of the Romeo and Juliet romance, but that doesn’t mean they should pass up The Host, because the ultimate struggle at the heart of this book is not about who hooks up with who, but who has the right to live, to exist.
I found the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer, host and invader, much more compelling than the love triangle (or rectangle, really), especially as the two began to bond and even care for one another. It might seem at first glance that any alien invader who hostilely takes over would automatically be in the wrong, especially when lives are spent, but Stephanie Meyer places one of those alien souls, Wanderer, at the center of the conflict, forcing readers to view the story from her perspective, and even to relate to her as a protagonist.
While reading, I continually found myself wondering what actions I would take were I in either situation, as the human host or the alien soul. Even after finishing the book months ago, I still find myself going back to the story in my mind and contemplating where my personal morals lie. Without giving away too much of the plot, an ethical dilemma arises when Wanderer becomes imbedded into a human community. Melanie certainly deserves to have her body back, but for that to happen, Wanderer must give up her claim. Unfortunately, Wanderer has her own distinct personality, likes, dislikes, and people who have come to know her and care for her who want her to survive just as much as they do Melanie. So, who has a right to the body? They cannot survive together in the same body forever as it is not fair to either of them to be forced to share, but no one wants either of them to die.
I do not want to give away the ending, so I will not tell you what happens, but I imagine you could come up with a couple guesses and one of them would most likely be right. Another aspect of the novel that I actually enjoyed was the less-than-subtle undercurrent of social commentary. I am not personally a fan of political or social commentary in fiction that, for me, is meant to be a leisure read; but, I found Stephanie Meyer’s mentions of human conflict, war, environmental deterioration, etc. to actually be relevant. In many ways, we humans are not the best caretakers of this planet or each other, and it doesn’t hurt to consider that fact. But, I’ll move on! ;)
The movie: I waited quite a while to catch up and see The Host (like, until it was on Netflix), but I am glad I did finally see it because I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Obviously, it has the same plot as the book, with some slight changes for time and practical purposes, but I didn’t think those changes really affected or altered the story too greatly. I wish the filmmakers could have spent a little more time developing the characters who really were the heart of the conflict, but I understand a teen flick like this would have a specific time constraint. That being said, I thought the acting overall was good and Saoirse Ronan, who plays the main character Melanie, did an outstanding job of carrying the film.
Summary: My final thoughts are basically that the book is worth reading and, obviously, if you like the book, the film is worth watching. I understand that paranormal drama/romance novels are not for everyone, but I found that the angst was not too overpowering to make it unbearable and the unique angle of this story was intriguing enough to keep it interesting. There was a little suspense, some wry humor and enough emotion to tug at your heartstrings but not to much to make you gag. As for the movie, the hunks were just hunky enough and the female leads were just captivating enough to make it all (somewhat) believable. Now, go forth and nerd out!
Oh, and if you’ve read the book and/or seen the movie, please feel free to let me know your honest opinion because I am dying to know what other people thought!! As always, thanks for reading :), Kristi