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Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2016
Narrator: Ellen Archer
Length: 17h 1m
Publisher: Hachette Audio⎮2016
4.75★ Audiobook⎮ I know that a lot of people dislike Stephenie Meyer’s work and I’ve seen a lot of criticism of The Chemist, some of it premature. The reasoning behind it eludes me. I found The Chemist positively thrilling, practically from page one.
It’s been a couple of years since I read The Host and even more since I read the Twilight series, but I have overwhelmingly enjoyed Meyer’s writing ability in each experience. Liking and disliking Stephenie Meyer’s work seem to have become alternating trends since her literary debut, but I’ve always based my opinions on my own experiences with her writing. The fact of the matter is that she is 3 for 3 in my book.
The Chemist is the third of Meyer’s books that I have absolutely loved (counting the Twilight series as one). I could pick it apart, critiquing every detail, but that would ruin the experience for me. I rate and review stories primarily based on my level of enjoyment and I’m telling you, I devoured The Chemist.
Sure, there were things that bothered me here and there. Most notably, the romance, which felt severely undercooked and borderline insta-love. The character of Daniel grated on my nerves at times and I think the story would have been better served without him. But those things were heavily outweighed by the good in The Chemist.
The thing that struck my notice almost immediately was Meyer’s attention to detail. The images she painted were so painstakingly vivid that they felt almost tangible. I’m sure those lengthy descriptions were at least partially responsible for the 17 hour runtime, but they absolutely made this experience for me. Without them, the plot of The Chemist would have seemed a lot more outrageous and I probably would have been more reluctant to suspend my disbelief. A more hurried reader may begrudge said lengthy descriptions and feel that they bog down the story, but I savored them.
Besides, The Chemist wasn’t short on action. With a cerebral assassin-like protagonist, this story took a different approach to action scenes, but only slightly. Juliana/Alex was a new type of badass heroine and unlike any I have encountered thus far. Meyer really played up Alex’s unconventional strengths and I loved the message that brute force isn’t the only way to kick ass. As an animal lover, I also appreciated the inclusion of trained animal assassins. Einstein was freaking awesome.
If comparisons must be made (and you know they will be), The Chemist is better compared to The Host than the Twilight series. Meyer may have debuted as a Young Adult author, but she’s at her best when writing unrestrained Adult fiction. There was nothing explicitly “mature” about The Chemist, but it lacked the telltale YA-ness of Twilight. With that said, I urge you to approach The Chemist from a new perspective, free from any residual notions associated with the often polarizing Twilight series.
Narration review: True story, when I began listening to The Chemist, I actually checked my iPhone to make sure I wasn’t accidentally hearing a text-to-speech reading. That’s how much Ellen Archer sounded like my phone’s Siri voice. If you don’t believe me, listen to a sample. Archer narrated much of The Chemist in a detached, clinical voice that was extremely befitting of the story. It initially took some getting used to, but eventually had the intended effect of audibly setting the story’s atmosphere. Archer gave a magnificent performance, filled with precise characterization and inflection. Her delivery was most impressive. ♣︎