The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

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The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 2/5
Reviewer: Sophie Diamond
Reviewed by Sophie Diamond
Summary: Long and unimaginative, a poor take on what could have been a riveting conspiracy thriller.
Buy? No Borrow? No
Pages: 528 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Sphere
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0751567670

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The Chemist is on the run. She's a former government employee who knows lots of classified information and this makes her a dangerous liability. But after 3 years on the run, a surprise offer lures the Chemist back home, could this be her salvation or put her in even more danger than before?

The story starts in the middle of the action. The chemist, who has many names, is on the run, typing an email in a secure location and all round watching her back for danger. The pace should have been immediately quick and you should have been automatically invested but that just didn't happen for me. I was immediately drenched in lists of the convoluted way in which the chemist had booby trapped her temporary home. The email which causes the trouble happens right at the beginning, another technique which should pique your interest immediately but the action unfolds laboriously and while you can work out more or less what's going on, the finer details take so long to come out that I'd almost lost interest.

The Chemist is a very, very, long book, which could have (and should have) been drastically condensed. So much happens that is irrelevant to the main plot and steers you away from tense thriller and into YA redundant, painful dialogue. I think this was supposed to be a conspiracy thriller, but it lacked the main component - tension. It reads like a farce, and would be genuinely funny if it were shorter. I've read a lot of historical conspiracies but not a lot of spy/government ones. In my experience of this genre, it hasn't really mattered to me if the premise of the conspiracy is a bit ridiculous as long as the accompanying story was interesting. In this case it's all just ridiculous. There are no real twists and turns and the story doesn't evolve naturally. I did care what happened in the story by the time I was two thirds of the way in, but ordinarily by that point I would have given up.

In my opinion, Meyer can create some interesting characters, but she always seems to choose the least interesting to be the protagonist. The Chemist could have been really interesting as a character, to all intents and purposes she's a monster, a natural antagonist, but instead of leaning into that Meyer leaned away making her boring. If you're going to write in first person or third person close, then your main character has to be full of life, otherwise your story won't be. The way the characters interact with each other is also problematic, Meyer ventures into sitcom style exchanges which have no place in what should be a thriller. There are whole sections of this book that should have been cut out. It's 300 pages too long.

Stephenie Meyer has a very big fan base, I loved Twilight as a teenager and it's still one of my guilty pleasures, so no doubt many will pick this up and love it because her name is on the cover. I'm just not one of them. This is not a good book and although it's good to try new things, I think Meyer should go back to her teenage vampires.

Other books by this author include Twilight.

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