My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads rating: 3.69 of 5 with 33,591 ratings.
A twisty spy thriller. Not something that you’d expect from a YA author who normally writes about lusty teens and blood sucking covens.
But that’s what makes Stephenie Meyer so talented. She cooks up an intriguing plot that has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves or aliens.
Stephenie Meyer’s latest book is The Chemist, an adult suspense thriller about Juliana Fortis (known as ‘Alex’ for most of the book), a brilliant, resourceful and paranoid chemist who is former government interrogator trained to torture terrorism suspects with chemicals.
Alex is on the run because of multiple assassination attempts by her old employer. While on the run, she developed field agent skills that compliment her medical background.
Alex takes great care in covering her tracks. She drives 4-6 hours to a random library to check her email. Her nightly routine doesn’t include Noxema, but involves spending hours rigging up poisonous gases that release when triggered by her elaborate booby traps. She is armed with killer jewelry and accessories, sleeps in the bathtub with a gas mask, and is prepared for anything.
Alex is coaxed out of hiding by her former handler who promises that they’ll leave her alone if she performs one.last.job for her ex employers.
She agrees, and in the midst of torturing her final “victim”, the handsome, harmless, innocent school teacher Daniel Beach, she is ambushed by the victim’s brother Kevin, a former top-secret government operative.
They quickly discover that she has the wrong guy (she should have been torturing Kevin, actually) and that the whole thing is a setup. Then all three of them are on the run.
At one point, the trio escapes to Kevin’s safe house/dog farm (yes, I know, it sounds odd but it totally works well in the plot) and we are introduced to Kevin’s favorite canine companions: Einstein, Khan, and Lola. All of the dogs on the farm are highly trained, fierce, and intelligent. Einstein is Kevin’s sidekick, Khan becomes Daniel’s nanny, and Lola bonds with Alex.
I was especially intrigued about this book because of the strong hype that follows the Twilight series. I wasn’t willing to venture into angsty YA novels to experience Stephenie Meyer’s writing, but when I heard that she was writing an adult spy thriller with a smart female character, I was the first to request it at the library.
According to this New York Times article, “Ms. Meyer got the idea for The Chemist in 2010, during a freezing, rainy overnight shoot for ‘Breaking Dawn,’ the fourth ‘Twilight’ film, in Squamish, British Columbia. Shivering in front of the movie monitors, Ms. Meyer thought of a female agent — part Jason Bourne, part Bill Nye the Science Guy — who has a peculiar talent for torturing people.”
This book received a wide range of criticism – some liked it, some panned it – so I began this book with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it was.
I loved Alex and her Borne/Nye personality (more Nye than Borne). I loved the plot, the science, the badass strong and smart female character, the Beach brothers, the dogs (my favorite), and the comedic aspects.
The book did become a bit slow in the middle, but overall the fighting and action scenes made it worthwhile. The pace picks up faster just when you think that the book is beginning to drag.
The sex and romance in the book is PG rated, and reads like a Twilight novel (or so I’ve been told). It’s very sweet and innocent, with lots of heat and no action. I guess I can read Fifty Shades of Gray if I wanted action, right? But I don’t mind this.
It’s a fun, fast, gripping novel with a smart, strong, self-sufficient heroine and a satisfying ending. I recommend that you give it a try!