Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.
Wanderer, the invading 'soul' who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.
I'm going to do something different today: review the book and the film alongside. I've read the book about 5 or 6 times over the years and, even though I only got it two weeks ago, watched the film twice! In my opinion, they are both very good, brilliant really, but I am a firm believer of "book first" and especially in this case because you can get a lot more from the book than the film.
The book is very slow, all about the build-up, both in the story and the romance. I adore this because it allows for real time passing and the relationship between Wanda and Melanie to progress. We don't really see this in the film, it seems more forced, at least at first. And with Wanda and Ian, I love their slow budding romance, with Melanie's third wheel and Ian really understanding Wanda's role and personality in the caves. This is subtly and slowly explored in the book, with little hints at Ian's feelings and while the film got this right, I feel it was rushed a bit. Probably just because it's a 600 page book crammed into a film less than 2 hours long!
Jeb is a vital character in the book, and one of my favourites. He is a crazy genius and I am so glad that they kept his rambling theories about Wanda in the film. I am sad they didn't keep all of them though, because his questions are something I love in the book, as it shows all the humans that Wanda is a separate being from Melanie and allows them to see her as something other than the enemy. This builds up trust, slowly but surely, and I understand that the film had a time limit but I did miss the pages and pages of Wanda agonising over what they all think of her and trying to comprehend human emotions.
Even though the film got quite a few things wrong and many things were left out, I still really liked the representation of the new world and the souls, the visual awesome-ness that was the caves, the complications between Wanda, Ian and Jared. There were also some extra's, added to make the film more dynamic I guess, like seeing Jared's raids, and the Seeker's mission to find them all. Overall, I did like the film but every time I watch it, it makes me want to re-read the book to remember all the great details!
Published 6th May 2008 by Sphere. Film directed by Andrew Niccol, staring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and Jake Abel, 2013.