I will admit that this one might be pretty short because personally I thought they did a great job following along with the book. There were some things that they cut and other parts they sped up a bit, but the core of what the book is about was very much intact. The ending they did change slightly, but there were obvious reasons for that. My favorite part was Jeb – William Hurt did a fabulous job of bringing that character to life.
So as usual if you have not read the book or seen the movie, there are spoilers to follow, but in general both the book and movie do a great job of looking at humanity when humans are endangered.
The thing that I loved about The Host was not the idea of an epic love story, but looking at what do you do when confronted with something you do not understand and feel is threatening your very existence? The souls have come to Earth seeing the pain and suffering of the humans with the idea that they can make their lives better, but is it really living if the human is no longer in control? The souls do not seem to understand what is so wrong about what they have done. There is no more war, they can cure diseases, the world is “perfect” and yet the humans who have not been implanted with a soul are rebelling. To the point that they would rather die than have their bodies taken over.
Yet, if they don’t die they can be healed, which is what happens to Melanie and she is implanted with Wanderer. A soul that has lived almost a century and been to 8 of the 12 planets that the souls have joined with, and yet has never experienced anything like a humans’ will to keep going and keep fighting. Melanie is constantly fighting her attempts to find out where the other humans are located. Eventually Wanderer and Melanie reach an understanding and go to get help. Melanie tricks her into actually going to the humans so she can make sure her brother Jaime and the man she loves – Jared – are okay.
The human survivors equate Wanderer with the enemy so they do not want to listen to anything she has to say; they don’t want to hear why she is there. Jeb, Melanie’s uncle, is the only one who wonders about what is really going on. In the book the distrust that the human survivors show towards Wanderer lasts a bit longer than they had time to show in the movie. It does not really matter if she was attacked once or a hundred times – the fact that she does not want to retaliate, but would rather die than see strife come to the group is a real testament to her character and to Melanie’s influence on her.
In both the movie and the book the place you really find humanity is in Wanderer. Melanie does not want to die and wants to fight back, but Wanderer is not willing to let someone else be harmed for her sake. She even figures out a way to safely remove souls from their human hosts, sending the souls off to other planets and giving the humans their lives back. Bringing her to the revelation that no matter how much she has loved being here and loved everyone that she has met, she needs to give Melanie her body back. At the same time she has wandered from system to system and yet this is the first place she has found that is home. By the time she travelled to another planet, everyone on Earth that she had known would be dead. So she would rather die than live on knowing they are all dead.
She had lived such a long time and is such a pure soul, she does not believe in violence and always tries to find another way. The humans would have killed her in an instant, but she tried to understand and learn. She did not want to see anyone – soul or human – die even when it meant her own life. This is the great moment for the book and the movie: the character of Wanderer, a soul who had traversed the universe, finding new life as a human.
Did Not Make the Cut
There were a couple of things that did not make the cut for the movie. One of the more interesting things is, they skipped over all the time that Wanderer initially spends with the Healer and a Comforter. They spend quite a bit of time at the beginning trying to help her transition. The part with the Seeker does not come until a bit later, but at the same time in a movie you almost need a sense of urgency to keep the story movie. In a book you can meander for a while and then be reminded that danger is still lurking around the corner.
The thing that disappointed me that did not make the cut is Wanderer explaining all the other planets she had been to. They have a brief moment where she explains that there are other planets and how long she has been a live, but it is so interesting to think of this soul traveling from planet to planet inhabiting different alien creatures and incorporating that life into their own existence. Talking about how they choose the planets they go to. I think they still do a great job of showing who Wanderer is, but the book can go so much more in depth with her character than the movie really had time to accomplish. They still made me love her and her sacrifice at the end is such a beautiful moment, but I do wonder if I had not read the book would I have the same feeling.
Worked Surprisingly Well
So that is most everything I really want to say. The last thing is just that I was worried about how Melanie would work as a voice in the head and I thought they did a really good job of making that work. In the book they can italicize every time Melanie speaks, but you do not get the same visual cue in a movie. Instead, they had Saoirse Ronan speak with an accent (since Melanie was from Louisiana) as the voice in the head, and any time Wanderer wanted to speak it was out-loud. I really was not sure how this would come across, but it worked surprisingly well.
So the only other thing that got changed is that in the end, Melanie and the others will not let Wanderer kill herself and they find her another body. In the book they describe her as looking like a child even though the body is technically 17 years old, but it probably would have been difficult to find an actress who could play a 17 year old who looks 12. Also, it might have looked a little weird when she was looking into the eyes of the boy she fell in love with and he looked 24 and she looked 12. In the book I thought the extreme difference between Wanderer being in the body of Melanie and then waking up in this new body and not recognizing herself was an interesting moment.