If you put Warm Bodies and Twilight in a blender and add a heaping helping of sarcasm, you would end up with Chemistry. It’s billed as a “sassy, body-positive, snarky twist on Twilight,” and it is absolutely the truth. I love the Twilight Saga and probably always will; it’s incredibly addictive and one of my ultimate guilty pleasure reads, even though I know it’s problematic on multiple levels. But Lynch added an element to her parody that was missing in the original; humor in droves. While Twilight might make you giggle or roll your eyes in places, it never made me physically bust out laughing, which this book did countless times.
Stella, our main character, is a plus-sized teen who knows kung fu, but her greatest weapon is her bitingly sharp sarcasm. This girl is crazy smart, and fully embraces who she is, even when she’s bullied by others for her size. Her confidence was what I was hoping to see in Seanan McGuire’s Beneath the Sugar Sky, which fell very flat for me in this regard. Chemistry didn’t let me down. Stella Blunt is everything Bella Swan should have been in Twilight; she’s strong and smart and snarky and unerringly sees the value in herself. She doesn’t need someone to take care of her. Stella’s confidence in herself leaped off the page, and that confidence and her amazing brain attract some unwanted attention in the form of the biggest loser in school: Howard Mullins.
Howie is everything that Twilight’s Edward should have been, as well. He’s respectful and thoughtful and kind, a chivalrous gentleman caught in the wrong era. He isn’t at all pushy or controlling, and would happily settle for Stella’s friendship if that’s all she decided to offer. While Edward is a more attractive male lead, Howie is the one I would actually allow to date my daughter. Well, except for the fact that he’s kind of a zombie.
This is probably the twist to the Twilight story that delighted me the most. Instead of stunningly attractive vampires with morose backstories that have left them scarred, we have a family of awkward zombies who stumble through life as happily as they can. The zombie element accomplished everything that the vampire element did in Twilight, but in a way that was funnier and somehow lighter. There was so much more gore in this book than in Twilight, but the tone was still somehow brighter.
I also loved the fact that Stella’s parents were still together and that they had a fun, amazingly close relationship with each other and their daughter. They’re the dream family unit, and I love them so much. I feel like part of what attracted Bella to the Cullens family was the closeness they had with each other and her desire to experience that closeness. Stella didn’t need that, because she already had it. The relationships in the book were wonderful, and made me very happy.
Every major event and plot point in the first book of the Twilight Saga was mirrored in some form or fashion here. If you’ve read the Meyer’s series, you’ll really enjoy watching as parallel events unfold in Chemistry, but in ways that are often radically different. If you’ve never read Twilight and maybe never intend to because you know it just won’t be your thing, you can still undoubtedly enjoy this book without feeling like you’re missing anything; it definitely stands on its own and is a self-contained story in its own right.
I am so incredibly impressed by Lynch’s writing. This is a self-published novel, but suffered from none of the editing issues I’ve found in many other self-published works. Nor did this book ever suffer from pacing issues or stilted dialogue or anything else that might cause a sudden disconnect with the story. I can’t believe that this is a first novel, and I applaud the author for her transparency about being autistic. She has my respect and readership, and I’m super interested to see where she goes with this series. For once, I’m happy that I have to deal with ads, because if it wasn’t for a special offer on my Kindle’s lock screen, I would have never known this book existed. It’s a hidden gem that deserves so much more notoriety.
The only warning I feel needs to be attached to this review is a profanity alert. This is a great YA story, but it is filled with profanity. Seriously, so profane. So, if you’re a parent who is thinking about letting your teenager read these books, just be aware of that. But other than that, it’s pretty much perfect. I recommend Chemistry to anyone who loves strong heroines, quirky romances, and insane levels of snark.
You can purchase a copy of the book here, with free shipping worldwide!