Friday, March 13, 2009

Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Tags: YA, romance, gangs


Brittany Ellis is the epitome of perfection: blond hair, blue eyes, cheerleader with the hot bod, designer clothes, mansion, money, football quarterback boyfriend. Alejandro "Alex" Fuentes is your stereotypical young Latino gangster. The two seniors at Fairfield High don't have anything in common... except that they are forced to be chemistry lab partners. Sparks fly--and not the good kind.

What they don't know about each other, however, could turn the whole world upside down. Brittany lacks a healthy family life, as her parents hide the fact that they have another, mentally handicapped daughter. And Alex wants nothing to do the gang, but he has no choice: as the oldest man in the family, he's in it for life in order to protect his family.

As the defenses go down and the two get closer, it becomes impossible to deny the obvious attraction between them. However, Brittany and Alex being together may be dangerous for both. How much are they willing to sacrifice for a shot at true love? Their reputations? Their families? Their lives?


I'm a fan of West Side Story but an ardent NOT-fan of Romeo & Juliet; however, I liked the general idea behind Perfect Chemistry. Every once in a while you just want to read a straightfoward story about two lovers overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles for a shot at happily ever after--this is one of those books.

Unfortunately, this was a classic story idea that was poorly executed. The two main characters' conflicts were so clearly defined from the very beginning--Brittany wants to be herself and not an image of perfection, Alex wants out of gang life and a chance for a better future--that the characters weren't allowed to grow very much as a result. Their conflicts were very much rooted in external circumstances, and the classic "I learn to stand my ground and speak my opinion" pattern of growth is overdone in literature. The ending was so melodramatic, so fairy-tale perfect (think Harry Potter 7), that my teeth nearly rotted out of my head. It left me unable to fully sympathize with the characters' predicaments, nor believe in the--shall we say?--ferocity of Brittany and Alex's feelings for one another.

Despite the cliches and Shakespeare drama throwback, I'm glad I picked this up. Perfect Chemistry was a light and enjoyable read, great for a time when you want a version of a timeless love story and a little hope in the saying "Love conquers all."

Writing: 2/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5


  1. I have a thing for bad boys so I'm really into this one. Agree with you on the melodramatic part though, I cracked up so hard when Alex was beaten to be out of the gang :x

  2. I really want to read this, the book trailer is so funny!

  3. this book has gotten such mixed reviews but i still can't wait to get to it as it sits in my TBR pile

  4. I have this one checked out and I'm interested in reading it. I'm like you though, I love West Side Story but really don't like Romeo and Juliet!

  5. I won this in a contest and it sounds good...Too bad it was a bit stereotypical and cheesy. ):

  6. I loved this book so much. I'm always interested in opposite opinions to mine though, which is why I'm liking this review. I agree it was melodramatic, but it didn't bother me too much.

  7. we have complete opposite takes on this lol. I thought the ending was really great, and while i also despise Romeo and Juliet, this book was more original. True, it was predictable, but would you rather Alex have died or some other horrible catastrophe? I'm so against predictable endings, but it worked for this book.

  8. Lol! haha , okay I call a truce. I just can't stand it if a main character dies, for the purpose of a book avoiding being predictable. Like in uglies when Zane dies-that was so sad. Plus it's so sad-like when zane dies in specials.

  9. Judging by your review, and everything else I've read about this book, I think I'm going to love it!


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