Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 1, 2008
Format: Kindle edition
Status: First in the Perfect Chemistry series, all of which are about the Fuentes brothers: Alex, Carlos, and Luis. Perfect Chemistry tells the story of Alex and Brittany. Rules of Attraction tells Carlos’ story, and the third book in the series, Chain Reaction will feature Luis. Chain Reaction has a publication date of May 24, 2011.
Source: Received on loan through the Kindle Lending Club. Thanks!
Genre: Teen, Contemporary Romance, Coming of Age
Location: Chicago area
Other Info: Simone Elkeles has also written two other series: The How to Ruin Series and the Leaving Paradise Series.
Description (from Goodreads):
You’d have to be completely dim-witted to have missed seeing or hearing about Perfect Chemistry. Simone Elkeles is sort of like the new Sarah Dessen. Her books have teen angst, teen romance and plenty of emotional baggage. Well, I’ve only read Perfect Chemistry so far, but that’s my take, having read the descriptions of her other books.
If you’re like me, and you’ve waited to pick up this book, then you’re in for a treat. I haven’t read much “normal” teen fiction lately (try none) and this was the perfect reentry into the genre. I frankly loved it. In the beginning, I felt the writing was a little clunky. Brittany was a little too Miss Shallow and Perfect (but with Hidden Depths), and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to like her or relate to her. Alex I saw through right away. But, then I knew he wasn’t going to turn out to be the stone-cold gangbanger of the reputation which precedes him. He is a bad boy, but for all the right reasons. Plus, it’s part of what makes him so sexy. Roarrryum.
Brittany and Alex are the classic star-crossed lovers. He’s from the wrong side of the tracks, a rule-breaker, a hellion and a, er, um, a ladies’ man. She’s the blond cheerleader with wealthy parents, perfect clothes and an expensive car. Not to mention a boyfriend. Don’t worry, he doesn’t stick around long enough to be a sticking point between Brittany and Alex. He’s also the quintessential current-boyfriend-who-isn’t-the-hero (a cheating jerk with a side of prove you love me with sex). Of course, the cliches dissolve once we get to know each character. Brittany’s life isn’t as perfect as she’d have people believe, and Alex isn’t a sociopath. Furthermore, he isn’t a banger by choice, but necessity. It’s also a fate he’s determined to save his brothers from sharing.
The secrets that rule Brittany and Alex are both heart-wrenching, but of the two, I found Alex’s story affected me more. Brittany has a sister with cerebral palsy. It’s had the kind of consequences on the family dynamic that you’d expect. Alex, however, is a boy who was born without a chance. His father was in the Latino Bloods before he died, and he was fated to become a member before he even understood the concept of choice. Highlight for the upcoming spoilery bit: I couldn’t forgive Alex’s mother for the things she kept from him. I think she was in a terrible position, but I find it hard to fathom a mother who wouldn’t at least try to save her son from getting mixed up in a gang. I couldn’t help thinking she could have moved back to Mexico–or ANYWHERE else–if the alternative was to allow her son to become a drug dealer and, eventually, a murderer.
The love story between Brittany and Alex is both sweet and hot. I was worried, at first, that the climax of the book was going to be Brittany finding out about the bet. It comes out, but the conflicts in Perfect Chemistry go deeper than that. Neither does it become a story about Brittany and Alex keeping their relationship a secret from everyone. The story doesn’t only focus on their relationship, either. There are subplots about Brittany and her best friend, and Alex and his brother, Carlos. There’s plenty of angst to go around, but that doesn’t mean a happy ending isn’t waiting for you.
This book really got me thinking about gang life, prejudice and criminality. It’s as thought-provoking as it is a love story that makes me go all squishy inside. I have to say, though Alex sounds like a superb adult male specimen, not an adolescent. I don’t remember guys looking like that when I was in high school. Do you? Of course, I could just be justifying my crush on an eighteen-year-old character. Hm. I also want to add that, while I love a happy ending, I didn’t need the epilogue. I would have been perfectly happy without it, especially since I’ve heard that Alex and Brittany make an appearance in Rules of Attraction.
If you haven’t already read this book, do so now. I’m not kidding. Buy it, check it out from the library, borrow it from someone on Lendle. Get your hands on a copy asap. Oh, what’s that you say? I’m the last person on earth who hadn’t already read it? Oops, my bad.
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