Book review: The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 Permalink

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.

Book review: The Chemist by Stephenie MeyerThe Chemist
by Stephenie Meyer
Published by Hachette Australia
on November 8th 2016
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 0751568236, 9780751568233
Pages: 522

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?

  • MyBlissPoint
    November 29, 2016

    I was a big fan of Twilight. I did like The Host but I had to push myself to finish it. I will give this one a try.

    • Debbish
      November 29, 2016

      I liked the characters in the book, which is something I think Meyer does well. I hope you enjoy it!

  • nicolethebuilderswife
    November 29, 2016

    I read the Twilight series just so I could understand my teenage girl at the time. This book sounds like something I would really enjoy.

    • Debbish
      November 29, 2016

      I enjoyed the Twilight series as I read them, but the more I pondered on them the more they annoyed me – if that makes sense. I think they were a guilty pleasure and I think they probably peaked at the first in the series!

  • Rita @ View From My Books
    November 29, 2016

    Great review! I just finished the book, as you know and shared a few thoughts. I liked the characters together, liked some of the unique gadgets and such, but thought it dragged a bit in the middle, and yes, could’ve been more heavily edited for clarity. Good read for me, not great.

    • Debbish
      November 29, 2016

      Yes Rita, Alex’s use of chemicals and biological weapons (albeit for torture etc) offered something quite different but yes… it dragged in sections and I tend to start skimming when that happens!)

  • Emma
    November 30, 2016

    I had a twilight phase I admit though I blame peer pressure. I also read and didn’t mind The Host. I was interested to hear your thoughts on this one but am now thinking it’s not for me. Good to know.

    • Debbish
      November 30, 2016

      I did like the premise Emma and think there was potential, but ultimately I think I was disappointed.

  • Roberta
    December 5, 2016

    This is helpful. I might wait until I can snag a discounted version so I don’t feel I wasted my money.

    • Debbish
      December 5, 2016

      Yes, I’m sure there’ll be second hand or discounted copies floating around by Christmas Roberta.

  • elfie1999
    May 21, 2017

    I agree with you on Kevin and Alex. I felt that they shared more common ground, where Daniel and Alex are sort of mismatched. Surprisingly good read!

  • Sian
    October 24, 2017

    I haven’t read this one (yet) but I wanted to say on The Host, it is one of the few books I’ve read that was BETTER on re-reading. I had a few false starts with it and finally ended up slogging through. Once I knew the ending, when I re-read it, the beginning was actually brilliant so I don’t know if that makes it a terrible book or not!

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2017

      Oh that’s interesting. I really can’t remember the detail of it now… I tried to watch the movie but it was really bad….

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