Stephenie Meyer's The Host is one of my all-time favorite books. I've read it several times and each time I enjoy it just as much as the first time I read the book, right after it was released in 2008. I've long hoped that Meyer would release a sequel to The Host (has she decided to just stop writing and work on movies?!) but in lieu of a new book release, I was pacified with the release of The Host movie.
I did not see The Host in the theater; the main reason being that I'm a SAHM to a 2 year old and I really can't get to the movies anymore. As soon as the movie was released to Netflix, I sat down and watched it.
While I don't think the movie version of a book is ever as good as the book itself, I found the disparity between the book and movie versions of The Host to be quite shocking. The movie felt flat, unemotional, and cliched to me. Many of the more emotional scenes in the book were either missing, contrived, or rushed. The movie seemed to drag and was, at times, boring. In contrast, I think the book is exciting, full of emotion, and I love the slow build of the relationships between the characters. The movie was full of what I consider typical alien cliches: very sleek, advanced technology, white and gray clothes, bright and modern silver cars, etc. I wish that the souls' technology would have been more subtle (as it was implied in the book) and not so abjectly alien.
There was a definite lack of chemistry between the main characters. If I had not read the book, I would have been unsure as to why Ian and Wanda ever fell in love. The relationship building was just not there. At one point, Wanda/Melanie asks Jared to kiss her. That part in the book was so full of chemistry. In the movie, it was laughably forced.
I have mixed emotions about the casting for The Host. I thought Jeb, Jared, Maggie and the Seeker/Lacey were perfectly cast. I also liked Melanie; however, I wish she would have been stronger-looking. She's so thin and I always imagined Melanie to have a fighter's build, not a super-slim actress build with very light musculature. Wanda's character was my biggest casting complaint. Wanda is supposed to be small, ethereally beautiful, blonde, and delicate. Wanda's new body was just all wrong (the wrong face, hair, and stature), and it nearly ruined the ending of the movie for me.
My favorite character was the Seeker. She perfectly embodied the Seeker from the book, and I loved her internal struggle, and the fact that she's hiding a huge secret of her own. Her drive and determination were admirable, although poorly directed, and I loved the way her storyline came to a close.
The best thing I can say about The Host movie is that it did stay true to the book. I really appreciate that and liked seeing one of my favorite books adapted into a movie. I wish that the movie had been longer, to allow for more character development. There were some important plot points that were left out, due to time constraints, I'm guessing. The storyline about Kyle and Jodi, as well as Wanda's job before she meets up with Jeb, immediately come to mind.
I realize that this review is full of complaints. I did enjoy the movie, but had some major problems with it. I know it's not a movie I'll buy, or likely ever watch again. It may be worth your time if you can rent it for a low price, but I would highly recommend reading the book instead if you have the time.