Book review: Stephenie Meyer weaves suspenseful spy thriller in 'The Chemist'
Posted December 24, 2016
The woman once known as Dr. Juliana Fortis worked for a secret government department and was recruited out of medical school as an interrogation specialist who developed injectable chemical treatments and became known as the Chemist.
Once her mentor and co-worker, Dr. Joseph Barnaby, caught wind of the possibility they were going to be targeted, they started making preparations in case they needed to disappear. Barnaby was killed in a lab explosion, and Juliana went into hiding — using different identities, not staying anywhere for long, taking precautions that included her sleeping in a gas mask, always having a plan and otherwise keeping a low profile. A handful of assassins were sent after her, but they obviously weren’t prepared for her lethal chemical traps.
At the opening of “The Chemist,” Juliana's former handler reaches out to her and asks her to do one more interrogation, promising they would leave her alone after.
Juliana, who uses several different names throughout the novel, finds that there was too much about the situation they didn’t tell her, making her circumstance that much more tenuous and dangerous, and she goes on the run, again.
However, this time, she finds herself working with a former black ops agent in a similar, precarious situation and a civilian who has been caught in this deadly game of hide and seek. As they work to figure out who wants them dead and plan an offensive, Juliana sees their available options narrowing and it pushes her to use what’s she learned, both on the run and during her time as the Chemist.
She also unexpectedly finds herself falling in love and dealing with emotions she’s rarely had to her in life, both of which complicate her fight for survival.
Meyer weaves a suspenseful spy thriller that crisscrosses the South and the East Coast. Her characters, including Julianna and those she works with, are believable and are easy to root for as they try to make it through one more day.
“The Chemist” has minimal, mild swearing. There are a few sexual situations and while sex is implied, descriptions don’t go beyond kissing. There are deaths, shootings, torture, injuries and other violence, and the majority of it is generally described or if more detailed, it’s done so in medical and clinical terms.
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