The protagonist in this novel, Alex – she goes by many names, but let’s stick to this for our sanity – is a secret agent and professional torturer. In fact, Alex is so good at her job that not only does she torture people within an inch of their lives in the story, she also does it to those who read this book.
Now let me tell you something: my mum raised no quitter, but I have no shame in admitting that I didn’t finish this novel. In fact, not finishing The Chemist is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. Yes, I am exaggerating, but that is because I really don’t have anything nice to say about the book. That is how angry I am.
In the book, Alex is on the run, hiding from her former agency that has put a hit out on her.
The readers witness her paranoia in everything – from how she dresses, where she hangs out, and her obsession with spy novels. Not that there is anything wrong with reading spy thrillers, but Alex uses them as guides to live her life on the run.
But her agency manages to track her down, which means she must not be that good at hiding (and that all those pages Stephenie Meyer writes about how Alex takes pains to cover her tracks are pointless).
The agency gives Alex a do-or-die offer, that they will let her off the hook, if and only if, she completes one last task – kidnap and torture Daniel Beach.
Now this is where the Twilight author gets a little Fifty Shades Of Grey. According to Meyer, and through the eyes of Alex, Daniel is a handsome guy with a heart of gold. So awesome is he that he forgives Alex for torturing him, and works alongside her to uncover the truth. Oh, and Alex eventually discovers that Daniel is a good guy and that the agency she used to work for is as rotten as ever.
I am all for a run-of-the-mill, “lonely woman meets dashing man who sweeps her off her feet” kind of story – but even that couldn’t make me want to find out what happens at the end of this book.
There is no suspense, no thrill, and absolutely no excitement to keep the story going. Perhaps Meyer gets paid per word, which would explain why she uses so many of them to explain things that would make Captain Obvious go “Duh!”.
Meyer does a terrible job at making Alex likeable – two chapters in and I was ready to call the agency and tell them where she was hiding. She is frankly a weird character, but surprisingly bland at the same time. And the schoolgirl crush she has on Daniel gets creepy real fast.
He, meanwhile, seems too good to be true. Who in their right mind forgives someone who tortured them mercilessly?
I certainly don’t see myself forgiving Meyer any time soon, and all she did was write this book.
I thought really hard and finally managed to find the silver lining in all of this: read The Chemist if you’re suffering from insomnia. You can thank me later.
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little, Brown, thriller