Title: Perfect Chemistry
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published: April 2010 (UK)
Format: Finished paperback
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. Forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, Brittany finds herself having to protect everything she’s worked so hard for – her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend and, most importantly, 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 the closer Alex and Brittany get to each other the more they realise that sometimes appearances can be deceptive and that you have to look beneath the surface to discover the truth.
Although you may think this is another one of those stories where people find out more about each other and find out that they aren’t stereotypes, they are normal people with interesting lives. It really isn’t though. Elkeles has written a wonderful novel, which, whilst reading, made me feel like I was right there in the action, and made me laugh, cry and all things in between!
There wasn’t much descriptions, but it really wasn’t too hard for me to imagine, and because I have played Grand Theft Auto before, I imagined Alex living in a rougher part, and Brittany living in Mulholland or the more expensive parts (I forget the names of the places in GTA though XD).
I think that the characters were well developed and were just plain awesome – I loved Brittany, and Alex, even though if you turn the cover sideways, the boy on the front cover doesn’t look that hot, the descriptions in the book were really good. They were both deep and well developed, and they needed to be, otherwise it turned the novel into: “We’re stereotypical characters who are misunderstood, and really quite normal. OH WAIT – yes we are stereotypical”. There are many books, especially now, that are taking cliché’s and trying to adapt them and create characters who aren’t, but in the process they end up being a stereotypical “I’m not stereotypical” character. However, Elkeles made these two characters 1) likeable and 2) believable. Their forbidden love was much more realistic and was more true to life than other forbidden love stories, and they went through rough patches, which is also true to REAL romance. The fact that they went off each other several times, and kept trying to persuade themselves they didn’t like the other, was perfectly done.
Brittany’s family life was perhaps, cliché, but the way Elkeles writes it made it feel real to me, and the fact that her mother is very demanding, bossy, and controlling, is more realistic than other mother’s in other books not being described. Her family was important to the story so had to be done well – they are part of the fact that Brittany isn’t a stereotypical rich and popular girl, and I think Elkeles made it perfect and Brittany is a perfect character as well. She cares for her sister (who has cystic fibrosis) and their relationship is non-clichéd and admirable (I would love a relationship with my sister like that!)
The gang culture involving Alex was at times quite intriguing, but I thought that it could have done with a bit more fleshing out and at times I thought it was just the same old same old gang culture you see everywhere in the media. Alex was trying to get out of the gang culture, but he had to stay, bla de bla. I always wonder how they HAVE to get into it, but then I realise that if someone in his family didn’t, they wouldn’t be protected. Nevertheless, it didn’t make the story any less enjoyable.
Alex and Brittany are polar opposites, and when they start questioning themselves and who they really are, it creates an interesting, believable, thought-provoking book, which really met my expectations!
Rating coming soon
Thank you very much to UK Book Tours for providing this copy!