Published by Walker Books
Date Published: December 23, 2008
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.So, Kelsey from Reading or Breathing (here’s her review and I approve of it) insisted I read two books. One was The DUFF, the other was Perfect Chemistry. And after I read and LOVED The DUFF, she basically yelled at me through Twitter to read Perfect Chemistry.
In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
Upon reading the first few pages, I’ll admit I started out thinking “Oh, rich white girl with horrible home life and poor gangbanger Mexican boy. This will be original. *eyeroll* ” By the end of the one day it took me to read, I was more along the lines “OMG. IF I DON’T GET THE NEXT BOOK NOW, I WILL STAB SOMEONE IN THE THROAT WITH A SPOON.”
Nice transition, huh? It’s really difficult to say what or when these characters were pushed from stereotypical set ups to something 3D and real, but all I know is that by the end I was totally cheering them on. (I’ll go ahead and just say that the Epilogue was REALLY diabetic-ly sweet and a bit contrived, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t smile like a complete moron from it.)
If I ever had to note a book for its characters arcs, this would be one. You watch Alex and Brittany grow and transform naturally without any overt, beating over the head of the larger themes presented. (Sorry, English major slipped out there.)
I think what I loved most about it was the passing back and forth of the POVs. Elkeles did it so beautifully that you never missed one delicious moment of what one character perceived from the other’s action. And in dual POV stories, I usually favor one character over the other, but I have got to say that I really liked both Alex and Brittany equalling and it was never a matter of “Oh, god, not THIS character again”. Brittany is tough, resilient and snarky while Alex is one sexy hombre. There really is something about this story that I cannot stop thinking about and I read it over a week ago now.
I don’t know what’s not to love about this book. If West Side Story is the new Romeo and Juliet, this is the new West Side Story. Though it has its Grease moments, too. And perfectly set in racially-charged Chicago. Ah! Perfect! Thus the title, right?
I have been resisting all of the evil temptations of buying Rules of Attraction before this HUGE book convention next week and I can tell you if they have ARCs of Chain Reaction (the third in the series) I will fight tooth and nail for one.