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.