Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

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. In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

Plot: 5/5
It's the typical story of two complete opposites falling for each other, except, not really. Despite the fact that the plot of star-crossed lovers has been done to death, the plot of Perfect Chemistry was still rich, enveloping, entertaining. Not once did it ever fall short. There were times when things felt a little predictable, but then all of a sudden a curveball would be thrown. The events were also paced appropriately and well thought-out, each one oozing with the intensity that was a constant throughout the whole book.

Creativity: 5/5
The idea of a high school princess and a gang member was a unique take on the idea of two opposites falling in love. The idea of a member of the popular crowd and a geek getting together is the dominating stereotype, this brought about something new. The supporting details of the characters' lives were also interesting and unpredictable, like Brittany's family's secret, and Alex's past, adding dimension and depth to the entire story.

Characters: 5/5
On top of having three-dimensional, concrete main characters, the story had an arsenal of strong supporting roles, as well. Adding to troubled Alex and seemingly-perfect Brittany were the people in their lives, like Alex's protective mom; his crazy but secretly suffering best friend Paco; Brittany's elitist mother; and the unlikely friend Isabel. Everyone contributed to the main storyline but also had their corresponding character arcs which were just as intriguing and deep. Even though there were a lot (and I do mean a lot) of characters, all were substantial, relevant, and relatable. Of course, the main characters were the winning part of the entire cast. There were just so many layers to their personas, and as the story was told from their alternating points of view, it was easy to empathize with them and see how they both grew as people as the novel progressed.

Writing: 5/5
Well-paced, captivating, provocative. Those are three words that can be used to describe Simone Elkeles' writing style. Known for tackling heavier topics in her books, she can pull it off as she writes in a raw yet polished manner. The emotions of the scene can be felt, but they're presented in a way that's easy to understand and pleasant to read. And even though the points of view were alternating, the voices remained steady and believable, something not easy to do when portraying two polar opposites.

Impact: 5/5
The intensity of Alex and Brittany's story was off the charts. As the plot thickens and the two characters get closer to each other, the reader is enveloped into a complicated world of two teenagers so in love with each other but kept apart by too many external forces. On top of that, both have inner demons to fight. But despite all that, their love for each other shines through, though they try to hide it from everybody and even themselves. Everything about the entire story- the plot, the characters, everything- makes a mark on the reader that the book becomes unforgettable, even almost iconic.

Overall: 5/5
For months I've been wanting to read Perfect Chemistry. I read so many good reviews about it, and I heard it was one of the best young adult love stories around, so I was dying to get my hands on it. Once I did, I was more than pleased. I was euphoric! It was one of the best stories I've ever read, and I loved how it was so intense, gritty, and raw. I loved the writing and the way the voices were presented, and I especially loved the characters. Both Alex and Brittany had so much to deal with, and even though their cases were completely different, I loved how they found kindred spirits in each other. When I was done with the book, even though I really enjoyed the ending, I was sad because it was over and I had to stop reading it!

My first 5/5 :)

1 comment:

  1. I loved this one and Rules of Attraction was just as good. Nice review.