The Chemist?

Stephenie Meyer is publishing a new book. Looking over it I got incredibly confused and entertained myself a little, so let’s do a little tour. I shouldn’t be so excited.

First of all: the cover. It’s intense, not black like every other cover she’s had but still monotone. We’re back to the Twilight-style of a single object on the cover, although it almost entirely blends into the background. It did take me a moment to figure out what it was, but there you go (it’s a syringe. Topical!).

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The choice of The Host as the strapline to advertise her previous credentials tickles me – the marketing team seem to know thriller-reading adults aren’t that likely to be the ones who followed Bella through several excruciating years of bad choices and disappointing fight scenes. The whole cover is trying very hard to make The Chemist sound and look dramatic, but all I can think of is the nice people who hand out prescriptions all day, or one of my secondary school teachers. So that’s unfortunate.

Then we get to the blurb.

After a writing hiatus of some six years, the global phenomenon that is Stephenie Meyer returns with her utterly compelling new thriller The Chemist.

Is it just me or is ‘six year writing hiatus’ a really weird way of saying ‘published something new less than a year ago’?

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Odd. Even if we dismiss Life and Death: I Promise It’s Not Sexist, sorry, I mean Twilight Reimagined, as some sort of fluke that didn’t really involve writing, the last books she released were Breaking Dawn and The Host, both in 2008. Eight years ago. Come again?

From the imagination that sculpted the universe of Twilight and introduced the spellbinding concept that was The Host, Stephenie Meyer now presents her first adult novel proper – the chilling and all-too possible world of The Chemist.

I’m a bit confused about what The Host was meant to be, since it was published by an adult imprint – are the marketing department at Little, Brown talking down to Meyer by saying it wasn’t a proper adult novel?

Imagine: an agent, employed by the United States government, brimming with its darkest possible secrets. Her department’s work is so sensitive, so clandestine, it bears no name. Known to almost only herself, she is the top expert in a very specialised field.

Imagine! A description of a book that manages to be both hyperbolic and vague simultaneously! At least she’s an expert in something nameless. Maybe some sort of chemistry, or is the title a red herring? But it’s not a love story! Surely that means there’s less to go wrong?

Is it just me or does this read like a first-drafted concept, not a blurb for a finished story?

Imagine that they have decided that she – and everything she knows – is a very dangerous liability. The only other person she trusted is dead. Now their attention has turned to her: rarely staying in the same place, or using the same name for long, she knows that her time is running out.

I’m almost impressed, apparently a character has died. Meyer’s trouble killing characters is why The Host is still a standalone and not yet a trilogy, so perhaps this shows growth.

When her former handler offers a means of escape, she cannot possibly know that what she learns only makes her situation yet more dangerous. And when she finds herself falling for a man whose very presence makes that risk a certainty, she understands that their salvation are the very skills only she can control…

Oh, never mind. It is a love story. And he’s dangerous. Carry on, this sounds like Twilight re-re-imagined. Although I’m interested that she is also dangerous, for knowing stuff. Women knowing things is pretty terrifying when you’re sexist though…

How likely is it that working for the government, not working for the government, someone being dead, escaping, heightened danger, falling for someone and discovering she’s the Chosen One all happen in the first fifty pages of the book? Because if not, this blurb has essentially given a few too many pointers. And how likely is it that you’re excited about a protagonist who doesn’t even have a name? I’m just curious…

In all seriousness, while I found the promo blurb for this very entertaining I’ll be interested to see what kind of reviews it gets. Personally, I won’t be reading it – thrillers aren’t my genre, and I’m very well aware that even if it is well written, I’ll be hyper-critical because of who it’s by. Let me know if you think you’ll give it a chance, and if so why – I’m interested!

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