Summer reading is in full swing! The book club adventures continue on with our June pick of The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer. This was my first Meyer; I missed the Twilight hype by a lot. I do remember it fondly though, from the outside. Many a classmate in high school wore “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” shirts with jean skirts and Ugg boots. There were literal arguments during my photo journalism class. What a time to be alive. I had an idea of what I was walking into, based on this past; I was not far off. This book was exciting, action-packed, and had star-crossed lovers and heart eyes all over the place. I’ve been calling it a summer blockbuster read from the very start. When I posted about it on Litsy, a friend agreed, calling it “joyous fluff!”
A little plot background: Alex (alias) is a chemist. She’s a bio chemist technically, who specializes in torture as a means of gaining information. Working in a secret section of the US government, she helps interrogate the bad guys. After a few years on the job, the government is ready to dispose of her, for reasons unknown to her at the time. After her partner is killed in a ‘lab accident’, Alex escapes and goes on the run. She is contacted by her old agency at the book’s opening and is asked to come back on a special case. They need her to find a terror cell responsible for a deadly flu virus. The cell is ready to release the virus into the general public, and Alex is charged with finding the release man and interrogating him. That interrogation doesn’t turn out as planned and Alex is thrown into one secret after another. She picks up some help along the way and together they unravel various schemes and lies that connect them all.
Questions to discuss with a book club. As always, feel free to answer in the comments!
This book had elements of Sherlock, James Bond, and of course Batman. What other stories did this remind you of, if any? This is the second time I’ve asked a question like this on the blog. Do you think any stories are unique anymore? Does it bother you or excite you when you see elements of another tale?
On page 213, Alex discusses her predator vs. prey mindset and how that’s changed over the course of her job and subsequent hiding. Discuss all characters in that vein. Who is predator and who is prey? Who has been both?
Discuss the idea of a found family dynamic. What other stories can you think of where the characters find their families and choose to have each other as a base. What is your favorite aspect of this particular found family and any others you know of?
Identity is a huge part of this story, especially because most characters are pretending to be someone or something other than what they are. Discuss Val and Alex’s conversation from page 456. Discuss the different types of identities (hidden, fake, real, code names) in the book so far.
This blog post comes right after a book exchange I held in which participants brought morally gray books and talked about the characters’ moral compasses over brunch. Morally gray job duties are brought up on page 70. Discuss the morality in this book. Is it more gray or black and white? If something is for the greater good, how bad is it really?
Discuss Alex’s ‘touchstone of safety’. Do you think it’s realistic that it would change in the way it does? Talk about your own safety points. Are they people or objects?