Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Simone Elkele's website here // $9.99 from {amazon}.

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (December 23, 2008)
Paperback: 368 pages
Summary: from {goodreads}
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.


My Thoughts: My new religion? Worshiping Simone Elkeles. Perfect Chemistry is the traditional story of love on two sides of the track: the rich girl, Brittany Ellis, and the guy from the slums, Alex Fuentes, but Simone Elkeles retells the classic tales with a riveting voice that kept me from putting this book down. I wanted a love story, and I got one. Perfect Chemistry caught me right of the bat with its real characters, heartbreak, and, yes, intense chemistry.

What really set apart Perfect Chemistry was the authenticity of the narration and characters. Technically, Brittany and Alex are "ideals" in that they represent the extremely caring but gorgeous girl and the poor guy striving to make something of his life. However, Simone Elkeles develops them into two unique people - distinct voices, perspectives, desires, and dreams; the greatness comes not in the originality, but in the modern approach to this age-old plot. If anything, my financial situation is a lot like Brittany's, but I immediately found myself drawn to Alex. I sympathized with his evident conflict between duty to his family and personal aspirations and loved his cocky, sexy front - though that's exactly what it was, a front. Alex does have that raw, bitter edge, but he could also make the sweetest boyfriend ever. But what I really want to convey more than anything is the fact that the characters were real. The dialogue is spot-on, complete with innuendos and endearing love confessions, the characters' thoughts seem entirely plausible, and there is a clear progression from fear and contempt to true love. I still can't fully express how much I loved the characters, but what I can express is how amazing it is to not read another story where the characters fall in love so quickly to the extent that it feels like they "pretend" to hate each other.

But love's not always a smooth road, and Brittany and Alex prove that. Perfect Chemistry is just that, the perfect chemistry you can have with that one special person, and the two both struggle to reconcile themselves to their new, intense feelings. I loved how much Brittany and Alex changed each other, and Simone Elkeles knows how to throw in some comic relief at just the right time. The bathroom scene with Paco? Priceless; it still cracks me up everytime I read it. The only concern I have with this total character immersion is what other readers thought about the smatterings of Spanish. I take Spanish classes, so I know what Alex and his relatives were saying, but I wonder if it'll come easily to others that aren't acquaintanced with Spanish. There's context, but not much. The only other possible complaint I have is that the ending seemed rushed and wrapped up a bit too quickly, though that's partly because I didn't want Perfect Chemistry to end. Overall, the final scene was cute and left me with a smile on my face.

Romance: Sweet, flirtatious, and intense. Sensitive, gorgeous girl + Struggling, hot guy = perfect chemistry.
Cover: 4.0 -- Simple but I like the contrast, and it helped me envision Brittany and Alex. :)
Writing: 5.0
Characters: 5.0
Plot: 4.5

Bottom Line: If you still do not grasp how much I loved Perfect Chemistry by now, let me say it again: I LOVED PERFECT CHEMISTRY. The chemistry was truly perfect, and it came with all the delicious boys conflict of first real love. The plot's not very original, but the amazing characters and Simone Elkeles manages to tailor it, iron it, and make it hers. I would definitely recommend this if you're looking for a sweet romance minus all the tears. As for the sequel, Rules of Attraction, coming in April, I'm definitely pre-ordering it! :D