Monday, August 31, 2009

REVIEW: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry is a stand alone young adult novel by author Simone Elkeles. Rules of Attraction is the sequel novel to Perfect Chemistry and is due out in May 2010.

Perfect Chemistry is a contemporary tale along the lines of West Side Story the musical meets The Outsiders novel by S.E. Hinton meets The ABC Afterschool Specials, with a happy ending. I usually try to avoid comparing written works like that, but in this case, the analogy just works so well. Plus I make this analogy with the utmost respect for all four works. So if you're familiar with those classic tales, you can pretty much predict the story line of Perfect Chemistry. Don't get the wrong impression, though. Although a bit predictable in story line, Perfect Chemistry is no less gripping and is definitely worth reading.

Brittany Ellis--the rich, popular, perfect pompom girl meets Alejandro "Alex" Fuentes --the poor, tough, gang banger boy from the other side of town. Each presumes to know all about the other one's stereotypical life, not even giving each other half a chance. Little do they realize, they're more alike than either would care to admit, as both Brittany and Alex live in a world of obligation to uphold this public facade of their stereotypical lifestyles.

Fate, or rather, their chemistry teacher, brings Brittany and Alex together and although at first they're both extremely full of contempt and disrespect for each other, in time they get to know each other and fall quite hard for each other. Of course, no one thinks they belong together and disapproval comes from just about everyone. But they have passion, understanding, and well . . . perfect chemistry and so despite the odds against them, they set out to prove their love for each other and try to break down the walls between their worlds. There is anger, betrayal and tragedy in Perfect Chemistry, but there is also strength, hope, courage and above all, love.

It's worth mentioning the format of this novel, because it's a format that isn't often used and I think it worked just brilliantly in Perfect Chemistry. Basically, the chapters alternate between Brittany and Alex's first person point of view throughout the entire novel. This method works so well because really it keeps the story moving at a fast clip, making you want to read "one more chapter" to see what the other one is going to think, say or do next. Scenes are never repeated from the other protagonist's perspective... the next chapter just picks up where the other left off. Not always at the same setting, mind you, but always keeping the timeline consistently moving forward. It's really a fun approach to telling a story and worked especially well for Perfect Chemistry in which both characters' perspectives are so crucial to developing the conflict.

Perfect Chemistry is a quick paced, highly addictive story. Both I and my teenage daughter had a difficult time putting the book down. In fact, we borrowed the book from the library on a Monday night and both of us had finished reading it by midnight on Tuesday.

Perfect Chemistry is a wonderfully written, intense and emotional story that tugs at your heartstrings as you watch these two star crossed lovers break down the social and racial barriers between their worlds, fighting for the happily ever after that they deserve.

You can visit author Simone Elkeles on her website at


  1. I placed this on hold at my library. So many great YA books!

  2. Hi Christine!

    You are the second reviewer that loved this story! I'm not much for Young Adult books but I'm thinking this is one not to miss.

    Thank you for the lovely review!


  3. Do you think that Jeff might like it? Or is it too romancy?

  4. I loved this book too! Can't wait for book two!

  5. You have been reading up a storm! :grin:

    I think the new kitchen inspires you :wink:

  6. KB: This will be a quick read for you, and hopefully you'll like it as much as Maria and I did. Just to warn you, though, there is some foul language, albeit it a lot of it is in Spanish. Not that I don't think you can handle it, mind you... but I know you don't like it in your YA reads.

    Lea: I actually looked for Perfect Chemsitry in the library based on some glowing comments I read, and I'm glad I picked it up.

    Lori: Hmm... as much as half of the book is from a guy's perspective, it is definitely a love story, so it might be too romancy for him. Not as girl-centered and romancy as something like Twilight, but still a romance at the heart.

    J. Kaye: Wasn't it wonderful? Oh, the ending totally sealed the deal for me with this book. *sigh*

    Do you happen to know who the main characters are in the sequel? I couldn't find any info at the author's website, and I'm so curious!

    azteclady: I have been reading up a storm! I read THIRTEEN books in August! I'm so excited. And all fantastic reads. For some reason, I feel more adept at writing reviews for YA lately.

    Maybe it is the new kitchen.... :wink:

  7. After your library loot post for this book I went looking the book. I know I have it. I even checked in case I imagines it but yes, I bought in February this year. But for the life of me, I can't find it! :( I think I put it out of the way when we got visitors, reducing the piles of books all around the apartment and now of course I can't remember.

    I'm glad you liked it. I really need to take things apart here now. *g*

  8. I so want this book - ever since you told me about.It's not out here so I have to get it from Amazon US but I WILL. I WILL.

  9. Thanks for that great review, Christine! I'm definitely getting this book... it's on my list of books to buy.

  10. Definitively sound interesting :) Thanks for the review, Christine!

  11. Taja: You've got to have it somewhere! Keep looking. ;)

    Ana: If I owned my copy, instead of having borrowed it from the library, I'd send it to you. I think you'd appreciate the romance, even if you found the story line and characters a little cliche.

    Hilcia: Yay! I hope you like it!

    nath: Thanks! :)

  12. This is the second glowing review I've read of this one. It's definately going on the library list.

  13. Hi Lisa! I hope you like Perfect Chemistry when you get to it.

    uh... I'm thinking you already noticed how horribly I've fallen off the TBR Challenge bandwagon? Oops.

  14. This is on my library hold list and I am looking forward to reading it. The plot kind of reminds me of a Kirsten Dunst movie - Crazy/Beautiful.


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