The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the best book Stephenie Meyer has written so far. I really enjoyed the Twilight series, and I liked most of The Host (although I thought it was quite a bit longer than it needed to be). I know her writing isn't perfect (no one's is), but she is still getting better.
For me, the best thing about Stephenie Meyer's writing is the way she understands those deep moments of connection between two human beings. In the Twilight books, she made me recall the experience of being in love for the first time as a teenager. In The Host, she drew a beautiful portrait of a connection that crossed worlds and species in the romance between Ian and Wanderer.
In this book, the character we generally know as Alex (not her real name) doesn't have any close attachments to anyone in her life. She learns to, through a difficult and painful process. Daniel starts out as the war criminal she's chosen - through an unlikely set of circumstances - to torture for information.
Oh yes, Alex is a difficult women. Meyer doesn't let us go easy on her or warm up to her quickly, but that's okay. This is a suspense novel taking place in the world of elite and highly-trained agents. Elite agents aren't people-people, and Alex is no exception. Getting us to invest emotionally in these characters is difficult, because they are difficult and complex characters.
Meyer pulls it off. Near the end, the unthinkable happens, and it's a heart-wrenching moment.
In the meantime, this is an absolute page-turner. Compared to the slow build of The Host, this book reads lightning-quick. Alex's life is in constant danger, and as a reader I constantly had to know what she was going to do next.
What Meyer can still improve upon is the way she writes relationships between women. This improves a bit toward the end of the novel, when she part-way humanizes a character who had previously been portrayed as Alex's rival. Still, there's the rivalry and the implication that the woman's beauty and sexuality are somehow negatives. Alex also has a few judgmental moments directed at random strangers. But the overall quality of Meyer's writing is moving in the right direction.
Even if you're not necessarily a fan of Meyer based on her previous books, if you're a devourer of suspense and willing to suspend some disbelief at the more unlikely aspects of thriller novels, you should find this enjoyable.
FYI, this may be a tough read if you love dogs. There are dogs, and those dogs are in peril.
I purchased this hardcover book at my local Barnes and Noble. I was not obligated in any way to review it.
The Host book review
The Host movie review
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