The Chemist: Daniel Strong #1

Katelyn Currie is adopted, broken, and a genius. Under the thumb of her adoptive parent, she’s created one of the most powerful toxins ever seen; one that kills silently, and in seconds. As one of the main characters in The Chemist, Katelyn is skillfully written and fleshed out, more and more of her past coming to light in flashbacks through the story. Generally a high incidence of flashbacks makes me want to beat my head on the nearest solid object, but author Alan J. Field handles them particularly well in this book, the overall effect of sanity crumbling and letting the memories escape being one of the strongest elements of the story.

However, aside from the characters, the novel was a difficult read for me. From the technical aspect, a lot of the adjective and simile use was more than a bit over the top, which undermined the intended menacing effect in many of the passages. In addition, typos tripped me up on a number of occasions, pulling me out of the plot with (on a couple) unintended comedic effect. The combination of the two more or less shot the pacing in the foot as far as I was concerned, and rather than the breathless ride effect of a fast-paced thriller, I didn’t find my attention was held by this book.

There were also areas where sentences were repeated, or where two pieces of dialogue with much the same content but slightly different wording were jumbled together. It read rather as if the author had tried several different options for a particular line, but missed deleting the unwanted options – nothing that couldn’t be simply fixed, but jarring to come across mid-read.

Overall, I feel that this book would profit hugely from a ruthless copy-edit. It definitely has a lot of potential, but in its current form, it’s a very frustrating read, and it’s not doing itself justice.

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