by Stephenie Meyer
Narrator: Ellen Archer
Length: 17 hours and 1 minute
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.
She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn't even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.
Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They've killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.
When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it's her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.
Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.
In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she's one of the world's bestselling authors.
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer is a page-turning thriller narrated by Ellen Archer. While going into the tale, I was aware of the mixed reviews; I am here to tell you I devoured the audio. Action-packed and filled with snark, twists and a smidgen of romance Meyer delivered a tale I’d love to see on the big screen.
Five reasons to grab your earbuds and listen to The Chemist
- The set-up: Dr. Juliana Fortis worked for a secret government agency doing enhanced interrogations until they decided she was a liability and tried to kill her. Her interrogations involved chemical formulas that inflicted torture without leaving a mark. She was one of the best and was utilized by several top branches of law enforcement within the United States. When we meet Juliana she has been on the run for over three years and has escaped death too many times to count. She is currently using the alias Alex and living entirely off the grid. When she goes through the crazy task of checking her email at a public library, she finds an email from a former co-worker. The agency needs her help stopping a terrorist threat in exchange for calling off the hunt. Alex’s decision sets off a catalyst of events that will have you listening into the wee hours.
- The characters: Alex (Juliana) is methodical, brilliant and at times down right scary. I loved the steps she took from her appearance to boobie traps. Of course, all of this attention to detail makes Alex frightening at times. The tale is told in the third person a departure from Meyers first person narratives. Some readers complained that as Juliana repeatedly changed her name it confused them. While she was mostly Alex, she was also Chris and Casey. When she became them, the story would read Casey went through the door. Since I listened, I did not encounter this issue as the voice remained the same. Secondary characters from the handsome and soft-spoken love interest to one highly capable Navy Seal helped add substance and depth to this suspenseful thriller. The Navy Seal made me crack a smile more oft than not, even if he was totally alpha. I loved the banter between him and Alex. The three of them worked well together, and I liked the dynamic of their relationships. I have to mention the dogs, with their unique personalities and amazing skills. I love that Meyer gave them unique personalities and page time.
- The plot: I love conspiracies, assassination plots, secret branches of government and cloak and dagger tales. If you are a fan of thrillers with dark undertones, assassins, mercenaries and government conspiracies you’ll enjoy this page-turning tale. Meyer’s took her time in the first 200 pages to bring us into Alex’s world and create believability. When Alex takes on this task, she does so to protect innocent lives, and I admired her for it. We get plenty of twists as Alex finds herself unwittingly partnered. Because of it, she ventures into unchartered territory. She goes from leading a solitary life to working with others and forming emotional attachments. Meyer’s weaved in personal aspects that allowed the reader to catch their breath and experience the personal side of these characters.
- The romance: I was not expecting a romance in The Chemist and don’t necessarily need one in this genre, but it worked for a couple of reasons. Alex is ruthless, and a mastermind at what she does. The romance shared her vulnerable side and allowed her to experience things you cannot learn in a textbook. The romantic interest is a good man, but we also got to see him exhibit some alpha tendencies that even shocked him. Is it instalove? Pfft, probably, but I can handle intense feelings given the situation.
- The narrator: A good narrator can add a level of enjoyment to a well-developed story and bring the characters and action to life. This was my first time listening to Ellen Archer, and I think she did an excellent job of portraying the characters, their personalities and setting the tone as scenes unfolded. By her inflection, I could tell Alex’s state of mind, hear the snark and sense the growing tension.
The Chemist is five hundred pages and offered over seventeen hours of audio listening. While not without flaws, I think Meyer’s excelled at balancing the tale, lending some credibility to the story and developing her characters. The ending was satisfactory without being tied up in a forced little bow. In fact, she left me smiling.
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