Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: Chemistry by Jodi Lamm

Chemistry by Jodi Lamm
Series: Standalone
Published: October 29th, 2012
Publisher: Self-published
150 pages (ebook)
Genre: Dark contemporary young adult/retelling
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon}

You don’t want to read this book. I’m warning you. This isn’t a heartwarming, boy-meets-girl, high school romance. I wish it were—God, do I ever. No, if you read this, you’re going to be angry…with me, mostly. You’ll probably yell at me, if you’re the type of person who yells at books. You’ll tell me not to be so stupid, but I won’t listen. I’ll be exactly as stupid as I need to be to destroy everything I love because that’s who I am: a walking, talking tragedy. That’s who I’ve always been. But if you’re determined to read on despite my warning, I may as well introduce myself. My name is Claude Frollo, I’m nineteen going on ninety, and this is my story. It isn’t pretty, but it’s honest. And it’s the only story I have left to tell.

Chemistry is a dark, haunting story about obsession, jealousy, and love. It’s a modern-day retelling of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, set in high school and told from the perspective of the “hunchback’s” best friend, Claude.

Claude is basically an outcast, and he’s ok with that. He has a few close friends and that’s all he needs. Girls don’t interest him…until Esmeralda comes along. Esmeralda is beautiful, exotic, and enchanting, and many of the boys begin to fall for her. She has this seductive pull, and people think she’s perfect, even though she’s far from it. While many of the boys become infatuated with her, Esmeralda is only interested in Phoebus, a popular, handsome jock with a girlfriend.

People also think that Claude is made of stone and incapable of love, but he loves his brother and Valentine and Peter, and tries to protect them. He wants the best for them and would do anything for them, even if means enabling them at times. Claude’s self-destructive behavior begins along with his obsession with Esmeralda. His feelings for her tear him apart and make him crazy, but he can’t stay away from her.

I think Lamm took a big risk in writing such a twisted and dark story, and in my opinion, it paid off. I was completely captivated by Claude and his obsession, and pulled in by Lamm’s beautiful writing style. Claude has these really poignant discoveries throughout the book - things that make him completely relatable, even though he’s not a character most people would relate to in many ways. There’s some really heavy and disturbing subject matter in Chemistry, and while it will be a step outside some people’s comfort zones, for me it was almost perversely thrilling to read about this character who was just an average guy, but who was basically bordering on mental illness with his unhealthy fixation on a girl who really just wasn’t worth it.

Never having read The Hunchback of Notre Dame (although I own it and it’s been on my TBR for over a decade), I can’t compare Chemistry to the classic tale, but I can tell you that Chemistry is a well-crafted story with excellent writing and character development, and enough twists and turns to ensure you won’t soon forget Claude or his story.

Have you read Chemistry? What did you think? How do you feel about darker YA books with heavy subject matter?


  1. Oooh, this one sounds DARK and intense. I haven't read HUNCHBACK either, but I've always wanted to. I love that this is told from the best friend's POV. Some of the books I've loved (like TIGER LILY) were told from unorthodox POV's and still made a huge emotional impact on me.

    I will admit, I hadn't paid ANY attention to this before your review, but I think I'm going to add it to my TBR!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  2. This sounds like it has some serious promise. A high school take with the characters from The Hunchback of Notre Dome... from FROLO's POV?!?!?! O.O I'm definitely intrigued!

  3. I'm too much of a mushbucket for this type of story. Have to pass, just have to. ::hangs head::


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