This is a book I honestly had no intention of reading.
I really enjoy Meyer’s YA books. They’re a little trashy, but they’re fun and addictive in a teenage soap opera kind of way. Twilight will always be one of my guilty pleasures. But I honestly didn’t think she could handle writing an adult spy thriller. I mean, it requires so much more research and finesse than a vampire/werewolf love triangle, right? The foreshadowing that was so present in the Twilight Saga would have to be done away with, because a thriller with no surprises isn’t really a thriller. The characters would have to be radically different from those she’s known for. I didn’t think she could do it.
I was wrong.
I should’ve had more faith, because this was a pretty amazing book. The only reason I gave in and read it is because both my mother and grandmother were raving about how much they loved it. I was skeptical, but they were totally right. This was one of the best spy thrillers I’ve ever read, on par with or perhaps even surpassing the likes of Patterson and Ludlum. It was what I was so hoping to find in Dean Koontz’s Jane Hawk series that disappointed me last year. Who would have guessed that Meyer had this kind of skill lurking beneath her teen paranormal romances?
Our main character, who shall remain nameless, has been on the run for three years. She’s not your average main character for a book like this. There is no martial arts black belt in her background. She’s not a sharpshooter or a femme fatale. Instead, she’s an incredibly bright chemist trying to stay ahead of the people who want to take her out for knowing too much. In the first two chapters, we see how incredibly cautious and well prepared our chemist is. The precautions she takes before going to sleep each night impressed me and saddened me at the same time. She was excellent at working to minimize her weaknesses and emphasize her strengths. And if there was a weakness that could be turned into a strength, she did so without hesitation. For example, she’s a tiny woman with a boyish figure. She utilizes this by using unisex aliases like Casey and Chris, and knows how to dress and alter her gait in a way that many people would dismiss her as a teenage boy. While impressive, the life she was living was no real life; survival was all that mattered. But then things changed. She met people who radically impacted her life for the better, and she was determined to keep them, even if it killed her.
I don’t want to go into the other characters in the book, but I will say that Meyer did an incredible job at creating a varied cast. None of the characters felt like carbon copies of each other, or like two dimensional characters added merely to bulk up the cast. Every character felt real, and had their own fears and hopes and quirks. Meyer also presented dogs in a wonderful way, where they felt like fully fleshed out characters in their own right. I have a soft spot for authors who include animals as legitimate characters and give them their own vibrant personalities, so I was thrilled by this inclusion.
And can we take just a moment to appreciate the vast amounts of research that must have gone into this book? When your main character is a brainy scientist, the author can’t slack on the scientific terms and explanations. Meyer wrote an incredibly convincing scientist, and ensured that her character’s knowledge was believably demonstrated. There was plenty of science, but never an overwhelming amount that might cause a reader’s eyes to glaze over. This is a delicate balance to strike, and I was impressed with how well Meyer handled it. There was also weapons research, research into dog training, black ops research, car research, and so many other research facets to Meyer’s story. I was honestly astonished by the work that must have gone into writing this book. Also, the readability factor was through the roof. Some authors just have this way with words where the writing disappears and you’re left watching a movie in your mind. Meyer has that gift.
Another element I definitely appreciated was the pacing. This is not a short book. My copy was 608 pages long. And never in over six hundred pages did the story drag. The pace was steady and engaging through the entirety of the story, which is incredibly rare. Even better, in my opinion, is the fact that this book stands completely alone! Standalone novels are unfortunately few and far between these days, so I latch on when I find one, especially when it turns out to be a great book. There’s a very satisfying conclusion to this story, and the epilogue also adds in a bit of humor that had me closing the book with a smile on my face. Finally, I just have to applaud this novel for its cleanliness. For a book in this genre, there was remarkably little profanity or descriptive sexual encounters. Remember when I said that my grandmother recommended this book to me? If an action thriller can be loved by my mom, who has read nearly every book in the genre, and by my Memaw, who reads predominantly Christian fiction, that’s really saying something for the wide readership the book attracts. I would have no problem recommending this book to anyone, because the story is addictive and the content doesn’t leave you wanting to scrub your gray matter with a toothbrush.
The Chemist is a fast-paced thriller full of intelligent characters who are easy to care about. There’s romance, humor, heartbreak, and loads of badassery. Sometimes, the brain can be your deadliest weapon. That’s definitely the case for Meyer’s action heroine. She’s different, and I absolutely loved her story. I have nothing negative to say about this book, and I hope more people will give it a chance. After all, it has my Memaw’s official seal of approval! I’m also praying that Meyer will write more adult fiction, because she definitely excelled here and I’m sorry I ever doubted her.
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