Sunday, September 16, 2012

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles - Book Review

Perfect Chemistry is a YA contempory chick-lit romance, as nearly every single element of the novel screams.  Brittany Ellis is the seemingly perfect cheerleader with the perfect blond hair and perfect body and perfect house...and not-so-perfect home life that she works her hardest to mask.  Alejandro (Alex) Fuentes is her polar opposite; Mexican gang-banger who uses his fists like they're weapons.  And carries an actual weapon, a gun, concealed in the waistband of his jeans.  Brittany is from the ritzy side of Fairfield, Alex from the other side of the tracks, two vastly different social statuses that come together in the same high school.

Brittany and Alex have only heard of each other - and formed their own biased opinions based off of what they've heard - until their shared senior-year Chemistry class pushes them together.  Forced to be lab partners, the two find themselves hating each other until they actually learn about each other.  And learn that, despite their different cliques and different ethnicities, despite Brittany's clean-as-a-whistle reputation and Alex's very not, they have so much more in common than they could ever have imagined.

Perfect Chemistry is rife with about every single teen romance cliche you can imagine, including a "watch me get in the rich white girl's panties" bet.  One that kept me tearing through the pages like a maniac caught in a thrall, torn between rolling my eyes and clutching my heart.  It's not often that a writer can so blatantly create such a generic plotline and make it work, but Elkeles surpasses my expectations and does just that.

One of my favorite things about this novel is its unwillingness to back down from the gritty aspects of life.  Most YA steers away from too much swearing, drug use, sex and violence.  Perfect Chemistry doesn't.  Some of the scenes are almost as steamy as you might find in an adult romance novel, and I will always support this.  Teenagers know what's going on, they know all about sex and drugs and violence.  Denying that in a book doesn't make the reality go away, but acknowledging it and showing characters using good judgement or showing a world of guilt over times they didn't just might help real teens make smarter decisions.

My other favorite thing is, of course, Alex Fuentes.  Since this is the Queen Of Cliches teen romance novel, it has to boast one amazingly sexy, totally swoon-worthy male romantic interest.  I'll be honest, it took me about half the book to really get into his charms, but once he had me, I was hooked.

If you're looking for some light, done-before-but-done-right romantic reading, Perfect Chemistry just may be perfect for you.

Perfect Chemistry - 3.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. Hi
    I read your comment on my blog about this books, so I decided to read your take on it. I absolutely agree with your main points. The plot line has definitely been done before (honestly, what hasn't these days), but Elkeles does it in a way that doesn't completely have you yawning and thinking "been there, read that."

    The fact that she didn't shy away from taboo teenage subjects such as sex, drugs, gangs, and violence is what really compelled me in reading this, a factor that I probably should have explored in my own post. It is a shame that a lot of kids grow up faster than they should with these issues, but attempting to hide it from them in books isn't the way to go. Its actually a way of showing them the "right" or "mature" way of dealing with it.

    Rules of Attraction is very similar, so if you liked this book in the end, then you may want to continue the series. Even though the story lines are very similar, I just like seeing how each brother overcomes the adversities of their backgrounds and stereotypes to become better men, although the epilogue to Perfect Chemistry was too convenient and neat for my liking.

    Great review!

    1. Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments! Have you ever heard of Laurie Halse Anderson? She writes contemporary YA. It's usually not romantic, but it's angsty and raw and also doesn't shy away from taboo topics. I think you'd like her stuff, especially Wintergirls and Speak.

      I have so many books to get to haha, I swear I keep meaning to get to Rules Of Attraction, but I keep seeming to put other books ahead. But tax season means I can afford a nice book haul, so I'm thinking Rules may be in it finally.

  2. I was actually considering this read. The main thing that attracted me to it was the presence of an interracial romance and i really love when people bring two cultures together in books. I've had it in my wishlist for a while. Not sure when i'll take the actual plunge.

  3. It's a good book! There are a lot of cliches, but if you can get past those, the message is a good one and the romance is addictive. If it's on your wishlist, I'd say go for it!


As you may or may not know, life is eating up way too much of my spare time right now, so pretty please don't hate me if it takes me a few days to get back to your wonderful comments. I read each and every one from my phone, and they always make my day. <3