If there was one book I was completely and totally surprised by it was The Host. Written by Twilight’s Stephenie Meyer, I was admittedly skeptical of the story. Touted as a sci-fi romance for adults I bought it half knowing it would suck me in the same way Twilight had, but also half knowing I was probably in for the same “I’ve only known him for one day but I love him and can’t see my life without anyone but him” kind of story. (Hey, when you’re only real time to read is in the tub, post 1 am or on business trips, you get whatever will take you away for a few hours, even if it is a story about an immortal love triangle.)
Despite my skepticism, I gotta say from the moment I opened the book I was hooked because damn, that Meyer can tell a story.
The Host was definitely different than Twilight and because of this, fans I know of the whole werewolf/vampire world Meyer created didn’t completely love the novel. At the core of the plot is an alien race called souls, which take over the bodies of humans in order to take over Earth and create an all loving, no pain feeling world. So yeah, that’s a bit different than beautiful immortal men, falling in love with damsel in distress ladies, and not exactly a story that makes you remember your first love, or what it was like to feel those first emotions of your first love. (Sigh…) No, it was about aliens invading earth and taking over our bodies like body snatchers, which meant of course at first I hated the main character, the soul named Wanderer, who inhabited the body of the other main character Melanie.
But damn (#2 if you’re counting), if that clever Meyer didn’t twist my feelings and make me fall totally in love with the character and understand her. Much in the same way George Lucas did in Star Wars with Darth Vadar — come on, who didn’t feel sorry for the guy as he lay there, legs cut off, mourning what he thought was the death of his wife and unborn children — or author Thomas Harris (Hannibal Rising), which explored the childhood of Lecter and unfortunate series of events that led to his role as a cannibalistic serial killer. Not that I condone that, because hey, I don’t ever think yum, a leg. But, knowing what happened to him I now understand how he wound up that way. I no longer scratch my head in wonder. Again, say it with me now, I understand.
So despite its supposed fourth grade reading level and somewhat generic love scenes (“Gasoline and an open flame – we exploded again”) I absolutely love, love, loved The Host, even after my third consecutive read, and was stoked when I heard 1) it was part of a planned trilogy, and 2) they were going to make into a movie. Movie news however has not left me exactly excited. Even though Andrew Niccol’s is at the helm (Gattaca), Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Hanna) has been cast as lead role of Melanie/Wanderer, which if you read the book, is just not what I envisioned. Despite her acting chops (did you see Hanna? My god, crazytown!) I’m not identifying with the lead character visually, and now, from what I read on Screenrant, not identifying with the several young men being considered for the roles of Melanie’s boyfriend, Jared, as well Wanderer fan” Ian O’Shea, either. Variety says “Jai Courtney (Spartacus: Blood and Sand), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Liam Hemsworth (next year’s The Hunger Games) and Max Irons (Red Riding Hood)” are up for the role of Jared. And “Jake Abel (the Percy Jackson movies), Dane DeHaan (True Blood), Tomas McDonnell (Prom), and Augustus Prew (Charlie St. Cloud)” as Ian. Sorry, but NONE of these guys sound like Jared or Ian to me.
Maybe I should have expected this. I didn’t read Twilight before seeing the first movie. I saw it with friends, on a whim, when we were up for a good laugh. But after seeing the first movie and being convinced by a friend the books were DEFINITELY better and I must read, I read all four books and was glad she had been right and disappointed I let the movies cloud my perception of the books. It is a good story and Meyer sucks you in. You can’t help it. They are top sellers for a reason. Sorry literati – it is what it is. It might not be high end colloquium, but the stories do what any story should – pull us in, make us feel as if we’re part of the story, and take us away, even if it is for a few minutes. But now, seeing the decisons casting directors are making for The Host movie, fear they’re heading to another tragic Twilight cast. Or maybe that’s what they want. They did rake in the cash.
I think after all of my excitement for The Host movie I will have to hold back from seeing it. I just can’t let poor casting and another teen angst movie ruin my perception of what is one of my favorite books of the past year. Casting is still in process and the movie isn’t set for release until 2013. Maybe things will change by then. I don’t know. Sometimes books just shouldn’t be made into movies.