Monday, 19 July 2010

Book Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Product details:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Paperback, 368 pages.
Release date: April 29th 2010 (first published 2008)
Ages: 12+
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers. 
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.

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.

I read a lot of Young Adult fiction, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that paranormal romance and urban fantasy are my genres of choice, and I tend to stick to them. Not anymore! Perfect Chemistry has changed my mind and broadened my reading horizons.  This book took me out of my reading comfort zone, and left me wanting to read a whole lot more from Simone Elkeles.  I picked this one up because  I wanted a light summer read, but this book is so much more than that. I actually ended up reading this in one sitting, and it’s definitely one of those books that's worth reading late into the night.

Perfect Chemistry is billed as a love story between star-crossed lovers from two very different walks of life. It’s told in a dual narrative between ‘perfect on the surface’ Brittany and rough and ready gang member, Alex. I loved the dual narrative in this book as it really allowed me to see inside the minds of Alex and Brittany. I particularly liked seeing things from Alex’s point of view, as usually the reader only gets to see everything from one perspective, most often the female’s. This was something new, and it enables the reader to really get to know Alex, and to understand that there is a lot more to him than first impressions would suggest.

On the surface, Alex and Brittany are polar opposites. Brittany is rich kid with long blonde hair and perfect looks. She appears to have the perfect life to go with her perfect grades and perfect jock boyfriend. In fact, in the first few chapters, Brittany is presented to us as being quite shallow and aloof. But, there’s a reason for that. She’s trying to present her life as being perfect and untouchable, but scratch the surface and you’ll soon find out that all is not what it seems. Her home life is far from perfect, and her relationship is on the rocks. She tries to maintain a perfect fa├žade because she thinks that’s what her parents and social circle expect from her. Underneath it all, Brittany is not all that different form her new chemistry partner, Alex. He’s the bad boy of the school, from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s a gang member who carries a gun, and most importantly he’s very misunderstood. When his friends dare him to sleep with Brittany as a bet, things really get interesting…

This book is wonderfully written, and the characters and their situations really rang true for me. Also, this book explores a lot of serious themes including class divides, gang warfare, family tensions and living with disability. Each of these themes is handled with grace and sensitivity and this makes for some really interesting reading.  Elkeles has done her research on gangs, and she keeps it real by adding some gritty gang brutality. Of course, being the romantic that I am, my absolute favourite part of the book was the growing romance between Alex and Brittany. I liked the fact that they don’t fall in love after five minutes. While they have a pretty instant attraction to each other, both try to deny it, and instead their romance builds at a realistic and perfect pace. The sexual tension between the two is hot and practically leaps of the page. When they finally kiss, it will take your breath away! This one is a fantastic modern love story, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good read!

- After various twitter conversations, I've had to amend my review to add that Alex is really, really HOT!! ;) Happy now, girls?


  1. Everyone is talking about how awesome this book and I dont even read it yet!Am I the only one..?

  2. Perfect Chemistry is my favourite book. Ever. Glad you enjoyed it :)

  3. @Darlyn - you must read this! There's a reason why everybody loves it - it's great! ;)

  4. Glad you enjoyed PC, I love this book so much, one of my top favorites!

  5. Fab review... glad you enjoyed it too. Your right, the chemistry just bounces of the page...t'is hot!

  6. im glad you liked it im completely in love with the series!

  7. Eep, ok, Now I HAVE to read this. I've read such great reviews for this, but yours would have to be one of my favourite ones that I've read so far. Must go and get this book - hopefully this week still!

  8. Easily in my top 5 this year! Im like you, prefer fantasy/ paranormal etc but this has changed my mind a little now

  9. Yay! I am so glad you liked it. I LOVED this book as well. I also liked that there wasn't an instant love after five minutes of meeting each other. I hate how that happens in YA. Elkeles is such a great author. I can't wait to read Rules of Attraction. Hopefully I can't get around to it this summer. Great review!

  10. This is one of my favorite books :)

  11. Oh I just knew this was going to be awesome - I have to read this one soon! :D

  12. brilliant review! you captured the essence of the novel perfectly :)

  13. Sounds like a great read - thanks for the awesome review! Will have to add this to my to-read list :)

  14. Wonderful review! :) Perfect Chemistry seems perfect!

  15. Well, now that you've added how HOT Alex is--I'm very happy. ;)

    SUCH a great book.

  16. Of course, you have to mention the hot boys! =) It does sound like a good read.


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