Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Title: Perfect Chemistry
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Pages: 360
Release date: April 21st 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
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.

First sentence:
Everyone knows I'm perfect.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'm pretty much the last person to read Perfect Chemistry, so writing this review is kind of pointless, but I'm going to do so anyway. I'd heard so, so many great things about this book, so I had pretty high expectations. While I did have some problems with this novel, I loved Perfect Chemistry - it's a hot romance novel!

Honestly, the story sounds really clichéd - the typical good girl/bad boy love story. And while their differences do play an important role, Perfect Chemistry is so much more than that cliché. Alex and Brittany are no clichés - they're fully-developed, complex characters, and I loved both of them. Alex is the poor Mexican gang member, but he's also sensitive, thoughtful, and, well, kind of adorable. Brittany is the spoiled rich girl, but she has problems, too - she needs to take care of Shelly, her sister who has cerebral palsy, and try to convince her parents not to send Shelly to some kind of institution.

I loved these two characters so much, and I could relate to both of them easily. Perfect Chemistry is written from alternating perspectives, and both Brittany's and Alex's voices are great. In my opinion, alternating points of view often don't work out because the voices are too similar, but that's definitely not the case in Perfect Chemistry - the voices are destinct and portray the characters perfectly.

Even more than the characters themselves, though, I enjoyed the relationship between Brittany and Alex - their chemistry is amazing. I love how they're so different on the outside but still have so much in common and are actually really similar. In the beginning, though, I thought the way the romance developed was kind of forced. Alex and Brittany hadn't gotten to know each other yet, so what happened in chemistry shouldn't have been that big of a deal. The focus on chem class is too extreme in my opinion - several times, both of them complain about how strict their teacher is and how terrible the class is, even though (to me) it seemed completely normal. Later on, though, once Alex and Brittany get to know each other, I loved their relationship and how it develops.

What's lacking in this novel, in my opinion, is the writing. It's okay, but there's nothing special or beautiful about it. In particular, I was annoyed by how the author used Spanish in Perfect Chemistry. I don't mind that she used Spanish - it makes sense, since Alex is Mexican - but I disliked the way she used it. It doesn't seem authentic, more like the author wanted to use some Spanish but was too focussed on making the reader understand it - she either said something in Spanish and immediately repeated it in English, or she used sentences like ", everything's bien," "He's got nada to brag about," and "La policía are looking for us," saying words everyone knows in Spanish but the rest in English. While I understand that she wanted to let everyone understand what the characters are saying, that just doesn't seem realistic to me - why would anyone in real life speak like that? I think I would have preferred it if either the whole sentence had been in Spanish (you can probably get what they're talking about from the context even if you don't know any Spanish), or if she'd written the sentence entirely in English and then written something like "...," Alex said in Spanish. Maybe it's just me, but Spanish used like it is in this book (and lots of other books) really annoys me.

Despite my dislike of the writing, Perfect Chemistry is a great romance novel with fully-developed characters. I'm planning on reading Rules of Attraction, the companion novel, soon - even though I'm not sure whether I'm going to enjoy it, since it sounds really similar to Perfect Chemistry...


18 comments:

  1. Don't worry, you're not the last person to read Perfect Chemistry. I am. It's buried somewhere on the tbr along with the sequel...

    brenda

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  2. I think reading this review has convinced me to read it. Nice review :)

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  3. You are definitely not the last person, lol. I haven't read this at all. All reviewers love it, but yeah, I heard that the use of Spanish was annoying as well. Great review!

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  4. I can't even explain how much I love this book! The real spanish, the romance, the difference between Carlos and Brittany!! Ahh!(:
    I just finished Rules of Attraction and can't wait to get started on Chain Reaction and Simone Elkeles's other series too(:

    lisa
    www.turningpages94.blogspot.com

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  5. I recently read this one too and I just loved it. Wonderful review!

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  6. Wow! I can hardly wait to read this one!:)

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  7. I have had this on my TBR list for a while now but you know, so many books, so little money. Haha.

    Really looking forward to when I can read it.

    Have a good one. (:

    Nat.

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  8. Haha, I still haven't read it! But I've heard so many good things about it so I really want to read it as soon as possible. Thanks for the review :)

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  9. I still didn´t read this book so you are not the last one xD I can´t wait to read this book so I hope it´ll be soon :D

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  10. I still haven't read this book! But I really want too! I love the first sentence. :D

    x
    Sierra(:

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  11. This book looks so good and your review wants me to read it more now! :)

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  12. I just read this book and it was great! Thanks for the review!

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  13. I've been wanting this book for a while now, so need to get ahold of this. Liked your review and I can understand about the spanish

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  14. Awesome review! I would love to read this book and series :]

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  15. Great review. I still havent read this! It is on my TRL and I can't wait to get to it!

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  16. I've beem dying to read this books for so long and with every review I read, I just want it more and more! Its sounds very very good and very real! I like that! I need a brerak from all the fantasy soemtimes ;P Great review!

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  17. I haven't read this yet, but it sounds so good! I'm anxious to read it!!

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