Who says that southsiders and northsiders can't mix? Well, other than everyone at Fairfield High School on the outskirts of Chicago.
Northsider Brittany Ellis has everything any teenager wants: popularity, money, and good looks. On the surface, her life is wonderful, but her perfect persona is just a cover-up for her troubled home life.
Southsider Alex Fuentes has a bad-boy reputation, but all he wants is to get out of his gang and graduate.
When they are thrown together as chemistry partners, life starts to make more sense. Written from both Brittany and Alex's perspective, this story shows what's going on below the surface for each person as they break through stereotypes and expectations that threaten to keep them apart.
This is like a modernized Shakespeare story, and after reading hundreds of books with plots similar to Romeo and Juliet, some stories start to blur into each other. PERFECT CHEMISTRY is not one of those books. It was addicting and the story was vibrant. The characters came to life and it was like I was there watching the story unfold.
The way Simone Elkeles wrote the story was absolutely perfect.
Reviewed by: Emily Ann
on 4 March 2010
When I received Perfect Chemistry for review, I was pretty pleased. I heard a lot of people had good things to say about it, and so was intrigued, though I was particularly wowed by the blurb, but I thought I'd give it a go. I cannot tell you how amazing Perfect Chemistry is! I am not the fastest reader going, and Perfect Chemistry isn't exactly a skinny book, but it was so good, I couldn't put it down, and read the whole thing yesterday. I loved it!
This book is about so much more than just a love story. It's also about accepting yourself for who you are, being yourself, and not living by the social rules of your environment. It was fantastic to see how these two very different people - Brittany, who is little miss popular and Queen Bee of high school, and Alex, dangerous gang member who strikes fear into just about everyone - were so similar. How they are seen by the outside world is nothing compared to who they are inside, but a front they put on for reasons far more serious than social acceptance.
I love the way the story was structured, with mostly alternating chapters from both Brittany and Alex's points of view in first person. It was brilliant to really get inside their heads, to see what they were hiding, yet see their misconceptions of the other. It's not completely original, but it was brilliant.
It was great to see them struggle with their individual lives, having pretty much no-one to confide in about their issues, and then seeing them thrust together to, little by little, learn to trust, open up, and let the other in. They are both so much more complicated than the other thought; Brittany is a nice, good person, rather have superficial and arrogant, and Alex is fiercely loyal and protective of his family, and does what he must to keep them safe. Watching them fall in love as they realise they may have actually found someone who understands is just beautiful.
As I said before, Alex is a gang member, but the fact that this is a romance doesn't mean that Simone shies away from what that means to Alex. Everyone knows gangs are dangerous, but it was shocking to see just how much. Alex's pretence is not only for what others think of him, but for what his friends and his fellow gang members think of him. If the guys on top got even a whiff that he is anything but fiercely dedicated to the gang, not only his life would be at risk. There is violence, drugs, and extreme fear running throughout this book; it's dark and gritty, and there's no lack of suspense. It's hard not to admire Alex for what he has to live through, day in and day out, knowing if he takes his eye off the ball for one second, that could be it. It's thrilling for a book, but deeply disturbing to considering this is life for some people.
The issue of living with a disabled relative is also covered in this book. Brittany is carrying around so much guilt that she was born "normal" while her older sister wasn't, and is also having to deal with a mother who is perpetually on the edge of breaking down at the possibility of the slightest scandal - what would the neighbours think? Brittany has to deal with so much pressure, from in and outside school, it's admirable, though unfair, that she plays the worry free pampered princess so well.
This book is just incredible, and I finished it with the urge to cry at just how beautiful it is. Perfect Chemistry is far from a simple love story; it's complicated, it's dangerous, but it's completely wonderful. There really is no way for me to express how much I have been touched by this book, and I really look forward to reading more of Simone's novels. If you don't read this book, you're missing out on something completely unforgettable.
on 21 March 2014
Cliched and predictable = boring.
Perhaps I'm just too old to appreciate this book as I'm well over my teenage angst years and think there are far more important things in life than whether or not you're the captain of the cheerleading squad or whether your lip gloss is peach blossom rather than pink frost. Granted the lipgloss thing was said as a joke, but the female lead is a little too concerned in the whole perfect appearance thing and by 50% through the book it's already been drilled home how perfect she is, not to mention vulnerable. I prefer a more gutsy and slightly less than perfect heroine.
I do appreciate that there are a couple more 'deeper' issues in the book, such as disability and gang wars, which is one of the reasons I'm giving it two stars rather than one. Also I probably would have enjoyed this book more when I was a teenager (in fairness it is aimed at young adults). Another reason I'm giving it two stars rather than one is I haven't finished it (I am 50% through the book) and it may pick up. However I doubt I'll ever find out whether it does or not as I am giving up at this stage. I don't find myself caring about the characters or enjoying their interactions. I just want to shout at them to get on with it. I hate to leave any book unfinished but likewise hate to waste my time on a dull and predictable book when there are so many better ones to read.
on 4 September 2012
Perfect Chemistry is about a 18 year old Brittany Ellis whose life seems perfect to everyone. She's the only one that knows it's everything but perfect. And when she is forced to be partners with Alex Fuentes, a boy from mexico and a gang member, her 'perfect' life starts to unravel. Alex is a feared bad boy, so when his friend makes a bet that Alex can't lure Brittany into sleeping with him, he takes the bet as a challenge and thinks nothing of it. Little did he know that the feelings he acted slowly became the reality. But when the gang slowly turns on him, will he be able to protect Brittany and his family? Will their growing feelings be enough to keep them together when the world is determined to tear them apart?
I have to say, at first i wasn't sure i would like this book. But omigod, after 12 pages i called my self a genius for listening to people who recommend it and telling me to buy it. I was so happy and glad. This book is probably one of my very favorites ( and that's hard). This book is so realistic and so awesome!
The characters were described and developed really well, and i felt like i really new them. I loved how Brittany and Alex changed at the end. There were many hot, romantic and hilarious scenes between them that just made want to read till the very end. I hate books without humor, no matter how good they are. So the humor pretty much did it for me.
The beginning ( 1 - 10 pages) were a bit boring, but still funny.
Perfect Chemistry is a unique book that you won't be able to put down. I laughed so many times i lost count. Funny, romantic, full of surprises and with a lot of action. Love, love, love it!
on 4 July 2012
Incredible! From the description this book so interesting and after reading the first few pages and seeing how many good reviews it had I just HAD to buy this book and I can say that was the best buy I've ever made. The way the book is written just has a certain appeal I've never seen before with other novels, I love Elkeles writing style. I won't spoil it for anyone who has yet to read it but if you're considering purchasing this novel please DO, it is amazing. It wasn't long before I purchased the next books in the series then soon purchased all available novels from Elkeles. Intriguing storyline, very gripping, don't finish it too quickly!
on 27 January 2016
To say it bluntly, this book was amazing! Nice girl meets sexy, bad to the bone gangster boy = lots of romance and a fantastic read! Honestly, I started this book at 11pm thinking I would just read a few chapters then suddenly it was 6am! (Thank goodness it was a weekend) Where that time went I don’t know but this is a definitely a, ‘I’ll just read one more chapter’ kind of book.
Told through the eyes of both Alex and Brittany, their point of views altered between chapters yet the story flowed smoothly and kept me engaged throughout. I really liked this as it allowed me to immerse myself in both their worlds, letting me understand both their characters and how each was affected by the other.
Complete opposites, Alex is a Mexican (and absolutely gorgeous) gangster from the wrong side of town while Brittany is the rich and seemingly perfect cheerleader… yet beneath the surface their characters are so much more. Forced into the roles society expects of them, they hide behind false smiles while striving to meet the expectations and obligations put on them by family and friends… yet everything changes when their lives collide.
Separated by social and financial status, as well as the racial barriers upheld by their families and peers, Alex and Brittany are brought together through a bet and chance circumstances. Written with the premise that there is always more to a person than meets the eye, the story shows how together, they overcome their prejudices and discover the truth about themselves and each other.
However while I have to admit that the book did have its faults and many cheesy parts with lines that made me giggle, blush and swoon… I loved it all! I really don’t know what it is about this book but I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to read its sequel ‘Rules of Attraction’.
Also while this is the first book I’ve read by Simone Elkeles she has totally been added to my list of favourite authors! Highly, completely and definitely recommended – it is a must read for all red blooded females! :)