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The Chemist Hardcover – November 8, 2016
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Praise for The Chemist:
"This espionage action story will no doubt tighten Meyer's grip on her devoted readers. Its main character is much like Jason Bourne, to whom the novel is dedicated affectionately.... Meyer knows how to control dramatic tension as skillfully as any of the Bourne movies. The pages turn themselves."―Keith Donohue, Washington Post
"Engrossing.... A terrific ride.... The Chemist is consistently fast-paced fun, especially the way that Alex's scientific genius gives her an array of potions-she's small, but you don't want to get within swiping distance of the rings on her fingers-that verge on the magical."―Charles Finch, USA Today
"Fans will likely tear through The Chemist, just as they did with the Twilight novels and with The Host.... Our heroine is very good at staying alive.... The book hit on an appealing theme. Chris is an expert in her field, one that happens to be male dominated. Her peers are out to get her. She has to watch her back constantly.... With so many popular novels out there featuring unreliable female narrators stuck in various suburbs, it was nice to read about a woman who gets out and has a lot to do."―Meredith Goldstein, Boston Globe
"[Meyer has] an unusual ability to turn genres inside out. The characters in the novel are motivated by love of family rather than by duty to country or abstractions like saving the world. Love gives the adventure meaning, rather than just being a subplot off to the side. Spy fans can be assured that in most respects, The Chemist functions in much the same way as a Bourne or Bond story, complete with mounting body count, cool explosions, stakeouts and betrayals. But changing the proportion of gender in the genre gives the concoction a renewed, and welcome, rush."
―Noah Berlatsky, Los Angeles Times
"A tale of skulduggery, bodice rippery, and shoot-'em-up action unfolds, complete with help from a luscious mistress of disguise who could have stepped right out of a James Bond novel. Rated B for badass."―Kirkus Reviews
"The Twilight mogul moves from blood-sucker romance to heart-stopping drama with a thriller about a kick-ass scientist and ex-government agent on the run."―Angela Ledgerwood, Cosmopolitan
"Here, an exciting heroine (see: female Jason Bourne) knows too much, is a threat, and has one last chance to clear her name."―Steph Opitz, Marie Claire
"It's nice to see a heroine whose greatest asset is her brain, one who can fell brawny hitmen with tiny syringes and weaponized jewelry. Meyer is still a skilled pace-setter, and The Chemist's 518-pages fly by."―Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly
"Twilight fans will find another romantic couple to root for, plus the most supernaturally intelligent guard since Rin Tin Tin."
"[A] gripping page-turner."
―Ali Ehrlich, Good Morning America
About the Author
Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English literature. Her internationally bestselling Twilight series has sold 155 million copies worldwide. In 2008 she published The Host, her first novel for adults, which debuted at #1 on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, and was released as a feature film in 2013. Meyer lives with her husband and three sons in Arizona
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Top Customer Reviews
A) Meyer's writing in this book is of much higher quality than her other books. Significantly so. I really do detest 'filler' in books. Thoughts that don't matter, descriptions that are irrelevant, musings that bore me to tears... The writing really is amazingly tight in this book as compared to her other books.
B) It's a real thriller, not a romance with a bit of "fake" mystery to make it seem real, which again, was a surprise to me. I thought for sure it would be one of those pathetic romances with a prop for a plot. Well, not so at all in this case. The plot, with its plentiful twists and turns, is definitely the focus of the story, and it is a well planned, gripping plot at that. It was fantastically done.
C) The heroine is strong, brilliant, and capable, and my opinion as an avid feminist is that she rocks. I love her!!! I absolutely love her. I love that she isn't weak, and survives on her own, and doesn't need anyone... I love that her life on the run has been lonely, but she has remained strong and outwitted operatives who are far better trained. I love that she was capable of saving her own life when it came right down to the line. I also love the fact that, as mentioned, she is brilliant. Not just top in her field, but doing work nobody else could even keep up with. And then there is the part where she remains calm in tense situations, thinks clearly, acts with purpose... Yeah, I really do absolutely love her.
D) I very much appreciated the fact that Meyer didn't stoop to the use of slang, 'code' words used in dialogue, and over exaggerations of "special ops lingo" in an attempt at authenticity. I was military for 13 years...just an airplane mechanic...not something super secret or cool. But I have 0 respect for authors who try to make their books seem extra bad-a by using excessive, and grossly overdone language and terminology. This book stood on its own, and didn't need such props, and really benefited greatly from not having them. Very well done.
E) And finally, the love interest. I was conflicted at first, but decided I was very pleased with the way things turned out. To be honest, I get sick of the constant grind of alpha male, helpless heroine routine, and I ultimately decided this romance made me happy, mostly because it was real.
So those are the things that have most impressed me so far. Now, for the couple of things I struggled with personally as a reader. One wasn't a super big deal, but the other (though I lumped it in with the "nitpick") was noticeable enough to me at the start of the book that I almost didn't keep reading. So as for the two things I struggled with:
A) The POV is third person, which I like infinitely better than first, but the book starts out with a narrator telling the story from a distance, and though that went away, the distance did not. Not for a long time for me. I couldn't connect with with the heroine. I didn't dislike her for the first 8 chapters, but nor did I like her. To be clear, this was not insignificant for me. At one point around chapter 5 I felt so disconnected I started checking to see how many pages were left in the book like a nervous tic, because I didn't know if I could keep reading for THAT many. It went away, absolutely, and I generally loved the book otherwise. But the extent of my struggle is the specific reason why I knocked off a star.
B) It's a small complaint, but the name thing drove me nuts. The heroine, in the first chapters of the book, not only used different names when she talked to other people, she actually THOUGHT of herself in terms of those names. She WAS Casey, and then she WAS Alex, and then she WAS Jesse... Normally when using fake names, the character will still think of themselves in terms of their own names, but that wasn't the case here, and combined with the distance in the POV at the start, it did add to my overall struggle to really become engaged in the character and plot. That went away too, of course, but again, anything that almost causes me to put a book down, I mention.
So my overall thoughts on this book are surprise and pleasure. I had no intention of loving it so much. I have NOT been a Meyer fan for a lot of years, and to be completely honest, I only bought this book so I could read it and then mock it. That was the plan. I even told the plan to my sister (also not a Meyer fan) and we laughed about it together. And then I read the book...and it was overall fantastic. Don't miss the read, and if you struggle with the distance like I did in the beginning, don't give it up. Keep reading. I really don't think you will be sorry...and though nobody knows me, that is about the highest recommendation I can give considering the author, and my previous opinions of her work. I didn't think in a million years she would change my mind.
But she did!!!
(Though reviews are inherently subjective, I prefer to provide some organization to my opinions through the use of a personal rubric. The following notes may contain spoilers.)
Plot and Setting: 4.9 -- Plot is engaging from start to finish. Has many unique elements, no major holes, and a sense of focus. Setting is clear and believable. Timeline is consistent, though a bit hard to follow. This is an action-packed, tension-driven story, with humor and romance and genius dogs thrown in to balance out the darker aspects. Incredibly detailed plots and plans, involving tons of clever spy tricks and deadly science, as well as a strong emotional story arc. A little of everything, sewn beautifully together. I loved it. I also appreciated Alex's inner commentary on how it seemed like more time had passed than actually had, because that's definitely the truth. I would've liked a little more clarity on the time passing front, but it does seem to be decently consistent throughout.
Characters: 5 -- Relatable, realistic, interesting, dynamic characters. Even minor characters have depth, as do the relationships between characters. Lots of very unique, fascinating characters. Even the dogs have great personalities, and the close look Alex takes into the lives of the 'bad guys' she targets lends depth and realism to those characters, too. It was fun seeing the main characters grow and change over the course of the very few weeks the book covers, as Alex adjusts to caring about and trusting other people, Daniel deals with a reality so very foreign to all he's known before, Val shows her softer side, and Kevin changes his opinion about Alex. As strange as their situations are, these characters seem very real and believable in all they do.
Mechanics and Writing: 5 -- Few, if any, typos, punctuation issues, or word errors. Intelligent use of POV. Skillful writing that adds to the story. Actually no typos, and great writing. POV is all 3rd-person Alex (or Juliana, Casey, Jesse, Charlie, Ellis, etc, etc, etc). I loved how her name kept changing in the narration to match her changing aliases, especially in the beginning. It wasn't as confusing as it sounds like it should have been. I only had to stop and think about who it was talking about once or twice (Jesse and Juliana threw me a bit, for some reason, but the other names all somehow felt like her).
Redeeming Value: 3.5 -- Incidental uplifting themes or lessons. Drugs, alcohol, violence, etc, are a significant element of the story. No explicit sex scenes. Vague moral guidelines for behavior. Torture, poisoning, and black-ops violence is definitely a big feature here, though our band of heroes is placed on the lighter gray end of that dark spectrum: they limit their killing, etc, to soldiers, agents, and the big bosses who essentially put the hits out on them. Sort of a "just war" idea. One of the bosses, while dying, compliments Alex on not hurting the innocent, saying she has not lost her soul. So while it's not nearly as dark as it could be, we definitely have morally shaky ground there. Not to mention some (implied/off-screen) unmarried sex.
Personal Enjoyment: 5 -- I loved it. It made me feel in all the best ways, and leaves me content and satisfied. One I'll definitely read again.
I wasn't a big fan of the Twilight series but loved The host, and this was great too.