Winner of the 2017 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Humor)
Stella Blunt’s world is ending.
Her parents have dragged her across the country, and she has to start over in a new school. Th is is a big problem, because she doesn’t make friends easily: she’s large, she’s loud, and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
The only person who likes her is the cute geek in her Chemistry class. He’s a great listener, he’s smart at science, and he loves her for her mind. Then again, she’s not sure whether that’s a good thing, considering that he also drinks brains from a thermos and walks with a lurch.
To complicate matters, undead hordes have started showing up at her door.
Can Stella take on a new school, an undead romance, and handle a chainsaw?
Written as a satirical feminist response to Twilight, Chemistry is an irreverent romp with a surprising amount of heart from debut author C.L. Lynch, who thinks that fat girls and zombies deserve love too.
Plot: Staging her story under the guise of a conventional paranormal romance, Lynch cleverly and dramatically subverts expectations, delivering a fast-moving and very fun zombie blood-fest that challenges ideas about femininity and teenage love.
Prose: Lynch's work is overflowing with wit and refreshing commentary on the horror genre. Lynch has wonderfully shifted the YA romance-horror stereotype, peppering her work with enjoyably cringe-worthy jokes that are by no means PG-13.
Originality: Lynch's satirizing of vampire romance is on-point, if heavy-handed. The dismissal of familiar tropes in favor of creating more empowered, distinctive female protagonists, is admirable and executed with flair.
Character Development: Stella graces the text as an unlikely heroine with her melodramatic, yet relatable teenage angst and desires. As the novel progresses, she gratifyingly develops from a fearful, self-conscious girl to a confident, chainsaw-wielding zombie hunter, all the while retaining her signature sense of humor.
Date Submitted: June 16, 2017
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. [...]
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.
Young adult books that start with a bang tend to follow through on their promise of being engrossing reads, butChemistry follows this formula and takes it to a new level of tension by presenting an opening paragraph that makes what follows difficult to either predict or set aside: "I used to fear the imaginary: monsters, ghosts, mummies, things that go bump in the night. These days I focused on more realistic threats, like car accidents, social humiliation, or conservative world leaders. But here I was, facing attack from the kind of horror that I long ago relegated to child-ish nightmares. Except I was awake, and this was real, and I was probably going to be killed in a painful and gory way. Maybe I should’ve gained some comfort from the fact that I was loved."
This is just one indicator that Chemistry is especially recommended for high school to 'new adult' readers seeking a blend of paranormal adventure, romance, and gore in a production which isn't above peppering its story with swearing, as is appropriate for character and scene.
Teen Stella's world appears to be ending because her parents have suddenly decided to uproot her from everything familiar, dragging her halfway across the country with only a few weeks' notice in the middle of the school year.
There are a few surprises right from the beginning: Stella freely swears heavily in front of her parents, who bat not an eye at her use of foul language; but such is in keeping with her overbearing presence - and one of the reasons why she doesn't suffer fools lightly or make friends readily.
Surprise is in store, however, when she gets to her new school to discover that the geek in her chemistry class likes her - and that undead hoards will literally 'eat her alive' if she lets them. What kind of place have her parents taken her to? And can she truly have a different kind of romance with the kind of boy no parent could approve of?
Chemistry doesn't just tell a story - it roars it; between sultry language, vast psychological changes, and a process that keeps even Stella on her toes and re-envisioning the possibilities for her future self: "I could tell him, “Kiss me,” and he’d do it. I paused, trying to work up the words. I was trying to reconcile who I was with who I could be. No, Stella Blunt had never been a sap for soppy romance. No, Stella had never done the kissyface stuff. Yes, Stella had always been the “ugh, get a room” type. But Stella could change, right?"
As a zombie invasion leads her to question even her newfound relationships, Stella finds herself on the business end of a chainsaw, facing possibilities she never could have imagined.
Between the spicy language and heady confrontations with death and the undead, Chemistry is not recommended for the younger teen; but for mature teens to new adults will more than appreciate its spunky heroine and parents who are willing to engage in chopping down zombies as Stella finds herself confronting love and Survival 101 at the same time.
Chemistry holds many surprises; among them the underlying themes of self-acceptance and female empowerment, which are part of Stella's personality. It also holds a wry sense of humor that permeates characters and situations as background noise in a gory set of encounters.
Mature young adults seeking something quite different in the way of zombie apocalypse and paranormal romance reads will relish the sense of the unexpected which Chemistry holds in abundance.
Fans of twilight (and those who hated it) will enjoy this spoof. Despite a few shaky technical aspects of the novel, there are some truly hilarious scenes. It contains subtle digs at the twilight series that you must pay attention to pick up—and some really obvious ones. The author’s take on this popular series is awesomely sarcastic and completely witty.
Chemistry has been named as a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards. These awards are judged by focus groups from the related demographic, so that means Chemistry was given a rave review by the teens who read it! Thanks, folks!
CHEMISTRY has been selected as a category winner of the 2017 IndieReader Discovery Awards! The award was announced at BookCon in New York today.
Judges on the IRDA panel include PR and publishing professionals, professional reviewers and more. A book must be given 4 or 5 stars by two separate judges in order to win a category. If no book achieves that, there is no winner for that category.
IndieReader's verdict on Chemistry was, "Although it was inspired by another book, its charm and originality make it stand out".