Monday, January 24, 2011

Perfect Chemistry [Review]

Title: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Series: Perfect Chemistry #1
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What They Say:
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.

What I Say:
I've known vaguely about this book for a while now. I'd heard mildly positive things about it and the book trailer was pretty brilliant (haha), but the premise was so cliche that I couldn't bring myself to pick it up. But with exams coming up, I was looking for something short and simple to read, so I decided to give this Romeo and Juliet reboot a chance. While on the surface it was the same-old-story I expected, deeper down it was refreshing and unpredicatable and I set it down feeling oddly impressed. That said...

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Plot: ooh
Brittany is perfect. Really, she says so maybe thirty times in the first chapter. She's has money, clothes, friends, everything. Her life, however, is not so perfect. Her sister has cerebral palsy, her mother's always critiquing her, and her dad's never around, and her boyfriend's gotten pushy over the summer. Oh the horror! Alex is far from perfect. He's in a gang, his grades are terrible, and did he mention he's in a gang? But it's all an act, really. Alex only joined the gang to protect his little brothers after his father died, he's working hard to be the first in his family to graduate high school. Brittany would never even go near to a thug from the south side of town, and Alex wouldn't be caught dead with a preppy north side princess. When they step into their senior Chemistry class, however, all that changes. Assigned to sit together for the whole year, these sworn enemies will have to get along if they want to pass. Falling in love, though, was never part of the plan.

Yeah, it's one of those books, haha. The first hundred-or-so pages had me on auto-cringe. Alex and Brittany play caricatures of themselves for the longest time, until they finally drop their defensive walls and actually get to know each other. The alternating POV chapters added to the ABC Family flick feel, but it smooths out as it goes. Because this is one of those books, I knew how it would end before it even started, but I was not disappointed by the path from point A to point B. I was actually surprised a few times. To touch on the ending, I mean, sure I knew how it would end, but Elkeles really cranks up the cheese dial in the last few pages. The crazy this is that it didn't even bother me! At that point, the crazy-happy ending was totally welcome.

Characters: ooh
I get that Brittany was a "real girl" and had "real problems", but she was pretty whiny and waify nonetheless. Not always - she had some pretty hardass moments - but most of the time, yeah. Oddly enough, much like the cheesy ending, she kind of made me roll my eyes and smile at the same time. She's not going to win Protag of the Year, and she isn't doing feminists any favors, but she definitely played her part well.

Alex didn't ellicit any eye-rolls, but he went from I'm-such-a-hardass to I'm-so-overly-serious a little too often to make him totally likeable. Luckily, his internal prize wheel finally slows down near the end, landing on - I don't know - one of the good prizes. I'm working on my metaphors, so bear with me, haha.

Relationships: ooh
Brittany and Collin - Because this was one of those books, I knew right away that this relationship would appear perfect but actually suck beneath the surface and that they'd eventually have one of those messy breakups that'd drive her into Alex's arms. I was right about that. Crept into Afterschool Special territory with the whole pressuring-boyfriend storyline, but ah well. At least it ended fast.

Brittany and Alex - After the drawn out Darcy Phase, this relationship really drove the story. Outside of the drama etc caused by it, though, it wasn't terribly interesting. I mean, yeah I get that he's a Montague and you're a Capulet, but do you have to be so tragic about it? No, ya don't.

Special Features: ooh
When I say one of those books, I'm referring to one of those new-twist-on-an-old-tale books. This one's Romeo and Juliet at the heart, but it's more West Side Story than "Palm to palm is holy palmer's kiss". I can't say I'm a big fan of this kind of book, but I can't deny that life imitates art from time to time, and some themes are universal and therefore doomed to show up in every other YA novel, haha.

Parting Quote:
"Makin' mistakes ain't a crime, you know. What's the use of having a reputation if you can't ruin it every now and then?" of those books. 


  1. everyone says this book is great! i rly need to read it!
    thanks for this post! I'm a new GFC follower!! Love the blog and I'm excited to read more!

    Follow me?!

  2. Hi,

    I'm Kate Evangelista, author of Taste, and I just wanted to take this time to introduce myself. If you have the time, please stop by The Coffee Bar by using the link below:

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  3. Hey!

    I love your blog! I've read "Perfect Chemistry" - I think its perfect if your in the mood for a rather predictable story with a heart-pounding romance. If you have time, please check out my blog

    Thanks and keep up the fab work!

    Scarlette :)

  4. A perfect romance story! Lovers from opposite side that was meant for each other! I definitely love this book! More power to the author as well as the reviewer!

  5. I may pass on this one. I'm not that into "those books" either. Thanks for your review!