Monday, 21 November 2016

Clare Reviews: The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

The ChemistTitle: The Chemist
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased

Pages: 518
Rating: 3.5/5

Blurb: 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.


The best way to describe this book is as one of those action movies. You know the ones - there is an implausible plot, plenty of not-quite-realistic action sequences. And a love story thrown in for fun. One of those "Oh my god stop flirting this is a life and death situation I thought you were a professional" kind of relationships. But you know what? I love those movies. They're fun and you don't have to think about them too hard. Perfect for a relaxing evening.

Our main character is "The Chemist" of the title. Her real name isn't revealed until a little way into the book and even after it is revealed she continues to switch names constantly. Which required me to be able to remember who she was in any given conversation (which I kept forgetting). But it was a good way to illustrate the life she lived - especially when someone used her real name and she got momentarily confused. She is a hard character to describe. She wasn't always likable - especially when you got hints of what she had done for "the department" but she was snarky and strong and well able to hold her own which I appreciated. I can't really talk about any side characters without giving spoilers but for the most part I liked them too.

One thing that really annoyed me  was the continual censoring going on inside the heroine's head. This may be a small and petty thing but whenever a character swore she would cut the dialogue of mid sentence and say something like "he added several quite unflattering descriptions of her; she knew all the individual words, but the combinations were fairly unusual." I understand that maybe the writer doesn't swear and couldn't bring herself to actually add swear words to her novel. Or maybe this is just a hangover from writing books for teens. But in a novel that, to use films as a reference again, should be a "15" rating, bringing it back down to "PG" in this way just felt unnatural to me. After all these characters do and experience - using a swear word should be pretty painless surely.

I've already mentioned the romance, briefly, and whilst I would say that it is definitely a little unbelievable at times it was also pretty sweet. I thought they were well matched and balanced each other out nicely so I wound up really wanting them to be OK by the end of the book. I also greatly appreciated the lack of a love triangle. There was a moment there where I thought that was where the book was headed but thankfully the book stayed on track and I wasn't too distracted.

I know I've been comparing this to a film a lot in this review which may be a bit unfair. But to me that's what it felt like. This book would make a really fun film and I would definitely watch it and probably rewatch it. But as a book there were parts that dragged, especially towards the end, and it did wind up taking me a long time to finish as a result. If I sound like I am being too harsh on The Chemist it's because I am. In reality, this was a fun read with a main character I definitely rooted for. It's far from perfect but ultimately enjoyable. If you're already a fan of Stephenie Meyer you probably don't need me to tell you that you'll enjoy this book. If you weren't a huge fan of her YA novels but this intrigued you - bear in mind that this won't compare to serious spy thrillers you've read in the past - but if you want more fun than suspense then I say go for it. 

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