Did you know that YA novelist Stephenie Meyer wrote another book outside of her Twilight Saga series? It is a sci-fi fantasy, but it has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves or sparkles. No, The Host is about Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman invaded by a parasitic alien with whom she forms a connection forever. Since The Host isn’t as mainstream Twilight, we’re here to help with a primer to help get you prepped.
Road Trip Inspiration
Meyer admits the idea for The Host came to her on a long trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake City, when she outlined the half of the story in her head and realized she had something she wanted to pursue.
Girl Gone “Wild”
In The Host, aliens known as "Souls" have taken over the majority of the planet and—surprise, surprise—humans don’t take kindly to any lack of free will. Melanie is "wild"—meaning she's one of very few humans able to still retain their bodies, so she goes on the run to find her younger brother, Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and her boyfriend, Jared Howe (Max Irons).
The alien that tries to possess Melanie’s body is known as Wanderer. The moment she enters Melanie’s body, Wanderer is thrown by the intensity of Melanie's struggle to hang on to her consciousness, so much so that Wanderer also finds herself compelled to track down Jaime and Jared. Meyer says it is absolutely “Invasion of the Body Snatchers, if the aliens had won."
The Eyes Have It
In the film, you can clearly tell when a human has been turned into a host by the ring of light that surrounds the pupil. It’s a pretty cool visual “tell” that is an important part of the story.
Meyer 'fessed up to MTV News that heroine Melanie Stryder is not a riff on her own name but she's actually based on two people in her life: “Melanie is one of my cousins, and Stryder is actually someone I knew in high school.” Lesson learned: stay friends with Stephenie and you might become her name muse.
Meyer admitted to Bella&Edward.com that actress Saoirse Ronan was not on her radar for Melanie but the Irish thespian eventually wowed her. “Originally, when they first brought that to my attention I felt Melanie was older. The other producer told me to go and see Hanna. As soon as I did, I said ‘Call her!’ I can’t even imagine anyone else bringing her to life now.”
Casting the Men
Back before the film’s actors were selected, Meyer fan-casted her own book thusly: Robert Redford as Jeb, Matt Damon as Jared, Casey Affleck as Wanderer's love interest Ian and Ben Affleck as Ian's older brother Kyle. In reality, William Hurt plays Jeb, Max Irons (Red Riding Hood) plays Jared, Jake Abel (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) plays Ian and Boyd Holbrook (The Big C) is Kyle.
The Crazy Uncle
Yeah, we all have them, including Melanie, whose Uncle Jeb (Hurt) is one of the first humans to scream the warning of an alien invasion but everyone thinks he’s just nuts. In preparation, Jeb creates a hideout beneath the Arizona desert in a network of caves.
Almost like the Terminator of the Souls, one called Seeker is determined to get Wanderer to reveal Melanie’s family so the last remnants of the human rebellion can be wiped out. She is unaware that Wanderer and Melanie’s consciousnesses equally loathe the dauntless alien and they work in concert to thwart her.
Sequels Are Planned
Unlike Twilight, which spawned three sequels quickly, The Host has been on a bit of a back burner. Meyer told MTV News that “If I were to continue on with The Host, which is a possibility, there are characters and stories that could continue. ... It would be two more. ... Next would be The Soul, and then The Seeker.”
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