Just what is Stephenie Meyer's The Host?

Feature Ryan Lambie
17 Jun 2012 - 19:19

Another Stephenie Meyer novel, called The Host, is being adapted into a movie. As the first images arrive, we ask: what is it, and should we be interested?

For just about everyone, the name Stephenie Meyer will be synonymous with the Twilight series of bestselling novels and movie adaptations. In turn, the name Twilight will be synonymous with either swooning romance, glittering vampires and melancholy cheekbones, or a series of tales about gloomy teenagers you’d rather avoid.

Whether you love, loathe or are merely a bit ambivalent about Twilight, there’s one thing we can all agree on: it’s a proper pop culture phenomenon. And as this year’s Breaking Dawn Part II brings the saga to a close, it’s little surprise that Hollywood executives are already looking for other, vaguely similar collisions of genre storytelling and teen romance to bring to our cinemas.

While last year’s I Am Number Four – an adaptation of Pittacus Lore’s young adult sci-fi novel – wasn’t exactly a huge success, this year’s The Hunger Games undoubtedly was, propelled by its inspired casting and the devotion of its source novel’s legion fans.

Meanwhile, writer and director Andrew Niccol’s been quietly working away on an adaptation of another Stephanie Meyer story, called The Host. Like Twilight, The Host mixes romance with genre elements – in this case, science fiction. 

The Host’s premise sounds remarkably similar to that of Jack Finney’s 1954 novel, The Body Snatchers, which have course been adapted for the big screen several times as under various names, most famously Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Like Body Snatchers, The Host sees a race of aliens (dubbed Souls) invade Earth and take over human bodies. All trace of the original personality within is erased, except in one instance – 21 year-old human Melanie, who successfully resists the attempts of a takeover by an alien called Wanda.

What follows is a rather difficult to describe love quandrangle, where Melanie is in love with fellow surviving human Jared, while Wanda (who’s in control of Mel’s body, remember) falls for another survivor named Ian.

As for The Host: the movie, Saoirse Ronan will play the dual role of Melanie and her body’s alien possessor, while Jake Abel and Max Irons will play the two swoonsome young men in their lives, Jared and Ian respectively.

What’s really piqued our interest about The Host, though, is the presence of Andrew Niccol. His career highlights include Gattaca (which he wrote and directed), The Truman Show (which he wrote and produced), and Lord Of War (which he wrote, produced and directed). While last year’s In Time wasn’t quite the bit of sci-fi brilliance we were hoping for, it was full of intriguing ideas and excellent performances.

Niccol’s long had an affinity for sci-fi in its more intelligent forms, as Gattaca and The Truman Show proved, so we’re intrigued to see how he handles Stephanie Meyer’s novel – with any luck, it’ll be a classy and thought-provoking take on her book.

Saiorse Ronan’s a good choice for the lead, too – her work in Atonement and The Lovely Bones have already earned BAFTA and Academy attention, while last year’s magnificent Hanna provided her with a truly one-of-a-kind lead character to inhabit.

The pictures you can find below represent our first look at The Host. And while they don’t tell us much about the story, they at least inform us that, in fashion terms, brown is again the new black.

The Host is due out next March – and it may be well worth keeping an eye on.

First Showing

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