The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 2.75 stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.72 stars
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.
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 realizes 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.
In this tautly plotted novel, Stephenie Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors."
Review: Yes, this is that Stephenie Meyer, and this is the first non-Twilight book that she's published since The Host (published in 2008) so I was a little surprised that there wasn't more hype around it. I realize that Twilight went through a pretty serious hate-wave, but I think we're all mostly past that and, whether you like that story or not, you can recognize how strongly Meyer has influenced pop culture in the last decade. Right? Do you disagree?
The point being, I was really surprised how quietly this book slipped into the world. Something about the nonchalance of it all made me approach this book with something of a side-eye. Maybe, I thought, it was really, really bad, and that's why there wasn't a huge marketing scheme around its release.
Now that I've read it, I'm even more confused with the quietness of it all. It wasn't terrible. It wasn't spectacular. But I'm pretty sure most Twi-hards would like it, would buy it, and would tell their friends about it. AKA, every publisher's dream was pretty much guaranteed. So why the distance from Twilight? (If you'll notice the cover, it specifically excludes Twilight from the marketing, saying that this book was written by the bestselling author of The Host. Riiiiiiiiiiiight, because Meyer is most known for The Host. #sarcasm)
My most recent thought is that maybe Meyer just liked this story enough to publish it, but doesn't like being famous. So, since she almost certainly doesn't need the money, she instructed her marketers to chill out and let things be. It's not like her success depends on this book selling well.
Who knows? Maybe there's more Twi-hate in the world than I estimate, and they're right to distance this book from that series. Or maybe Meyer just wants to break out of the vampire-author image. Or maybe she just likes publishing books as quietly as possible. Whatever the reasoning, the low marketing ploy appears to be working: The Chemist isn't on Amazon's top 100 books sales rank. In fact, at #989 it barely cracks the top 1,000. Goodreads stats for Twilight show over 3.7 million ratings, for The Host show 759,498 ratings, and for The Chemist show a measly 14,676 ratings.
I'm pretty sure there are more than 15,000 people who like Twilight, so I'm left to conclude that many of her fans don't know about this book. Read it or don't read it, but now at least you know: Stephenie Meyer wrote a new book. It's called The Chemist, it's a spy thriller/romance and there aren't any vampires and it's available right now. Cheers.
Alright, now that I got that off my chest, let's talk about The Chemist.
|This story is part romance, part spy thriller, and part coming of age story.|
The romance gets 1 star. Instalove is very much Meyer's schtick, so we all know that's what we're getting into. But even with that expectation it was bad. There was no tension, and no credibility to their romance. For a large part of the novel I actually thought Daniel was an undercover double agent working for the cartel or Pence (I mean Pace...) and was trying to seduce Alex (in an over-the-top, eyebrow-raising way) in an attempt to distract her. Either that, or he really was an idiot with a martyr complex. I was disheartened with the outcome, both of his character and their relationship.
That being said, the spy thriller part of this novel gets 4 stars. Meyer's novels tend to be romances with an undercurrent of danger. While I did not enjoy the romance element of this story, I did very much like the danger element. Alex was smart, quick, careful, and deliberate. She understood how high the stakes were, knew when to be deadly and when to be lenient, and yet kept hold of her moral compass. She was ruthless and terrifying at times, but only when necessary. I liked her spirit, and how she never gave up, no matter how dire the circumstances. She was a great match to go against the evil machine. And what an evil machine! I liked how shady the bad guys were, and how much work it took to figure out what they were even up against. I honestly didn't know how they were going to take them down and all survive, and I loved reading the last hundred pages of suspense, intrigue, and action. It doesn't get five stars because the beginning was horribly boring, but she got there eventually.
The coming of age part of the story is much smaller, but it's pretty evident that Alex has some personal and social insecurities that she struggles with, and apparently overcomes by the end of the story. I liked that she wasn't 100% confident, even though she was super hard core and brilliant. But I wasn't sold on her becoming more confident and feeling more secure because of Daniel. I think it can happen that people cause other people to feel more grounded. I just don't believe that it happened in this case. That may have more to do with my issues with Daniel though.
(Another issue with Daniel: what was the deal with his relationship with the third major character? It was super weird and I couldn't figure out his animosity towards him.)
So average it all out, and it gets between two and three stars. I bumped it up because I really enjoyed the action scenes, and I liked Val, Einstein, and the third main character as side characters, and liked how Meyer brought them to life through dialogue. I always appreciate it when authors give distinct voices to their characters.
In conclusion, it was really boring in the beginning, but picked up quite a bit by the end. The romance was crap, but the action was adequately suspenseful and exciting.
I probably won't read it again, but it was enjoyable enough.
Review in a GIF:
Bottom Line: If you're a Meyer fan, you'll probably enjoy this well enough, if you can get past the wordy first hundred pages. The science, survival, and espionage were fun, though the romance fell flat.