Review: Chemistry Lessons

For seventeen-year-old Maya, the equation for happiness is simple: a dream internship at MIT + two new science nerd friends + a perfect boyfriend = one amazing summer. Then Whit dumps her out of the blue. Maya is miserable until she discovers that her scientist mother, before she died, was conducting research on manipulating pheromones to enhance human attraction.

If Maya can finish her mother’s work, maybe she can get Whit back. But when her experiment creates chaos in her love life, she realizes that maybe love and loss can’t be understood using the scientific method. Can she learn to trust the unmeasurables of love and attraction instead?

First of all, I love how easy-going this book is. The flow of the story is great, and despite the fact that Maya and most of her friends are all young scientists, the story doesn’t delve much into the actual science of her summer experiment she conducts in order to win her ex-boyfriend back. The story doesn’t drag in any areas, which is important for me because when a story drags, I’ll start losing interest.

Maya was a good fit as a character in this book. Obviously she needed to be a scientist in order for this book to happen, and I love that Goldstein wrote about a young scientist (we need more of those in ya-fiction). However, being only seventeen, Maya did show her age at times. Thinking that she needed to win her ex, Whit, back just after losing him told me she was in the mindset of “We dated in high school so we’ll be together forever” and that isn’t always how life works (though, oddly, I do know more than four couples who’ve been together since high school… huh).

As Maya and Ann conduct this secret experiment in order to continue Maya’s mother’s work, Maya does learn a lesson by the end of the experiment. One of which is that there were underlying variables that she never thought to factor in each of her “subjects” which made things a little messy for her. While she had been determined to finish the project, she realized what it possibly could have cost her – her friendships, dignity, her internship, and possibly education. The fact that she did learn from her experience showed character growth on her part, and that she learned to open her eyes to other possibilities. 

Concerning the experiment Maya and Ann conduct on using a serum to rekindle attraction to someone, I think in my unscientific opinion, it was doomed from the start. Maybe you can use pheromones’ to make someone physically attracted to you, but no matter what, you just can’t manipulate emotions.

As far as side characters go, I loved them all. They were so original and fit well into the story. Bryan, Yael, and Kyle were by far my favorites. I might’ve liked them more than Maya. I wish there had been a little more interaction with Ann though, as I felt she was a deep character to explore. Honestly, I felt that way about a lot of the side characters. There just wasn’t enough time for them all.

I wish there had been a little more of the story relating to Maya’s mom, somehow, maybe in flashbacks or something. It’s mentioned that Maya and her mother were close, but there’s not much proof of that (to me) in the story, and I feel like it could have been shown through memories or flashbacks as the story went on. But, I get that maybe those memories might not have fit with the story. 

The story doesn’t end with Maya having a new boyfriend, which I think is great because it shows that not all books need to end in that “happily ever after” stage. Instead, the book ends with an opening for possibilities. We can assume who Maya will end up with after the end of the book, but then again, we don’t really know. I kind of like that. It concludes the story, but leaves you with just a little thought after.

Also, can we just take a second to appreciate how the cover of this books nearly matches my blog color scheme? (:

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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