When Stella Blunt arrives at a new school, her abrasive and straight-shooting personality doesn’t make her many new friends—with the exception of Howard “Howie” Mullins, a sweet, shy boy in her Chemistry class who also happens to be a zombie.
The book is described as a “feminist response to Twilight,” which is reflected in many key details of the book: Stella Blunt is loud and large, rather than quiet and wispy, and when bloodthirsty zombies start showing up, Stella doesn’t hide behind her undead crush, but instead joins the fray with gusto and a chainsaw. Echoes of Twilight can also be found in more subtle ways throughout the book, such as in Stella’s reluctant move to a cloudy, Pacific Northwest locale, and in Howard’s intense (but much less creepy) stare at Stella when he sees her in class. Even the final dance scene is reminiscent of Twilight’s conclusion.
Chemistry is funny and irreverent, and it doesn’t shy away from explicit language or gore. Given the humor and tone of the book, it occasionally reads less like a feminist response to Twilight and more like a parody of it—Stella is loud, abrasive, and eager to fight her own battles, but she comes with little nuance and sometimes seems like a caricature of a strong heroine. However, she’s also entertaining, engaging, and even vulnerable. On the other hand, Howie is uncomfortably compliant with Stella, even stepping in front of a moving car to please her—possibly a comment on the extreme personalities of many characters in young-adult romances, but a choice that makes it difficult to like or respect Howie in the same way.
Chemistry is a fun, clever novel that provides a welcome contrast to the more traditional young-adult romances of the genre, even while drawing on their warmth and familiarity.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.