Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Chemist

The Chemist 
By Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown and Company, 2016. 512 pgs. Fiction

To say that she is on the run would be an understatement. After becoming a liability to her classified government agency, she moves constantly, changes names frequently, and never goes to bed without donning a gas mask or setting elaborate chemical booby traps around her. Not to mention sleeping in the bath tub or driving hundreds of miles to and from a public library to check her email. When she is contacted by her former handler to finish one last job in exchange for the kill order on her back, she walks into a trap involving a rogue assassin she is forced to trust and a civilian bent on falling in love with her.

In Stephenie Meyer's preface to The Chemist, her first publication in eight years, she explains that the book is a result of "my romantic sensibilities and my obsession for Jason Bourne", which is an accurate description. The book is an entertaining if uneven and overly long romantic thriller. The first 200 pages are all thriller and I was completely engaged. As soon as the romance with Daniel hit – and that is not a euphemism – the suspense was put on hold, and the book lost my interest. But as the story continued their relationship became more believable and the book became a part-thriller once again.

While I likewise quibble with Daniel's lack of flaws and his instant acceptance of "her", I credit the book with pulling me out of a reading slump. I chose not to call her by any of her short-lived names (an aspect which didn't bother me), but if name is an important characterization for you keep that in mind. Meyer’s writing has improved and the audio book is also good. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to wait another eight years for her next book.


1 comment:

AJ said...

When I first learned that Stephenie Meyer was writing a thriller novel inspired by her “romantic sensibilities and obsession for Jason Bourne,” I was intrigued to say the least. After all, I have a deep and abiding love of Jason Bourne myself. However, the novel didn’t quite live up to my lofty expectations.

An ex-agent, calling herself Chris Taylor, who was previously involved in clandestine bio-chemical experitmentation, is on the run from her former employers who want her dead because she knows too much. Chris is only alive today because she carefully plans her every move. She even sleeps with a gas mask on. But when she is contacted by her former handler to finish one last job in exchange for cancelling the kill order on her life, she walks into a trap.

I found the first third of the book leading up to the betrayal to be very compelling. I really enjoyed the descriptions of her extreme precautions she took to avoid leaving traces of her presence, as well as the sophisticated self-defense mechanisms she devised. However, once the romance part of the novel gets played up, I grew very bored with the book. I normally enjoy a little romance, but what was once a thrilling story became very slow. I ended up returning the novel, and it took me several months to finally check it out again to finish it. Fortunately, the novel picks up again for the last third. This book could have been so much more enjoyable had the story been tightened up a bit.