I generally juggle two or three titles from my reading list at any given time. That was not possible with Chemicals; this novel demanded my full attention. This novel reminded me how much I hate that stories must have endings. Especially great stories. Especially stories filled with rich and vivid characters such as those created by Erica Crockett. I missed them immediately, even the evil ones. I wanted to keep reading.
Chemicals is certainly a deftly articulated social commentary that is hauntingly prophetic. But I was impressed with the writing itself. I am a fan of writing as a craft. I am sometimes insanely jealous of great writing. The latter applied for Chemicals. I was captivated by the narrative. It’s one thing to create some complex characters and tell a great story. It’s far more difficult to do that using a third person, attached narrator in the present tense. Erica overcame the restrictions of that single point of view by delivering evocative dialogue, careful plotting, and a strategic use of time to develop the characters and move the story. The immediacy was powerful and effective. A writerly triumph indeed. Chemicals was also filled with sentences I wish I had written. To list a few…

  • “She instead dreams of sinking into the moon of romance, made of cotton and love and throbbing with bioluminescence.”
  • “Everything will be all right when we come back from where we all have been.”
  • “Strangeness is all over you, Aberdeen.”
  • “It could be that the word evil is just too wedded to the word genius in my mind.”

But above all, I enjoyed the subtle moments this story provided. A simple note from Louis to Aberdeen was my personal favorite. This moment was earned in pieces—a careful crescendo—and provided an emotional punch to punctuate the bond between the two. Similarly, the novel was full of tiny, exquisite mysteries that held my attention long after the words were read. Even now, I catch myself pondering about Sani and formulating theories on how Hurt knew Walter’s name.

Bottom line: Chemicals is a great story. Erica Crockett is a gifted writer. Highly recommended.

Follow Erica on twitter (@EricaCrockett) and visit her website (ericacrockett.com)