At over 520 pages this book is long. Not sci-fi or dystopian fiction-long. But a bit long for someone with the attention span of a gnat. Like me. As a result it took me three nights to get through. With a few breaks in between.
I suspect if Stephenie Meyer had REALLY grabbed my attention I would have read it in a very long sitting, but The Chemist didn’t quite get there for me. It did, however, interest me enough to keep me turning the pages. All 522 of them.
by Stephenie Meyer
Published by Hachette Australia
on November 8th 2016
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 0751568236, 9780751568233
She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn't even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.
Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They've killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.
When her former handler offers her a way out, she realises it's her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.
Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.
Obviously most people know of Meyer’s Twilight series. I also attempted (but may not have finished) her novel The Host. And lasted even less time with the movie. (Not her fault obviously!)
But The Chemist seemed more up my alley and reminiscent of my old Robert Ludlum / John Le Carre / David Morrell / Len Deighton spy loving days.
When we first meet the person we come to know as Alex, it’s hard not to think of her as a bit paranoid. Supposedly hunted by her old colleagues, she’s a little extreme when it comes to protecting herself to say the least. (ie. Sleeping in the bathtub in a gas mask. And she wonders why she’s single!? #joking)
But we soon learn she’s been on the run for a while and the former nerdy-science type has developed an array of field agent skills to complement her medical and biological warfare knowledge.
Eager to stop running Alex (surprisingly) decides to trust her former boss and finds herself in even more trouble.
I liked Alex and our other key players – Daniel and Kevin. In fact I’d hoped Alex and Kevin would eventually get it on… he seemed to have a bit more life in him than Daniel, but whatevs…
Meyer did a great job with Alex’s character though the initial constant changing of names was a bit confusing. It’s written in third person so Meyer could have called Alex by one name from the beginning, though that improved after she met Daniel and Kevin.
I suspect Meyer did a lot of research into the pharmaceutical world and molecular and biological science for this novel. I’m not terribly details-focussed so could appreciate the information but didn’t absorb a lot of it and *may*(ahem) have skimmed those elements.
Alex’s use of poisons and toxins and the like was a bit different, as was the fact we had a heroine rather than a hero – all things I really liked about the novel.
Ultimately though, the novel didn’t really offer anything new in that – secret agent-burned-by-bosses-determined-to-seek-revenge genre.
The plot and cliched characters aside, one of the enjoyable things about Meyer’s Twilight series was the accessibility (simplicity) of her language. Although that still exists here, I did think parts of the book could have used a good edit.
I kept reading this because Meyer does offered something new and I cared about her characters, but ultimately the delivery (and the convoluted ending) needed a little more work.
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.
Were you a fan of the Twilight series? Even secretly? Have you read any of Meyer’s other work?