Saturday, 10 April 2010

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

"Brittany Ellis seems to have it all; wealthy parents, the perfect boyfriend and the "right" group of friends. But when Brittany is forced to become lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the wrong side of town, her perfect life starts to unravel. 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 as Alex and Brittany grow closer, sparks begin to fly and they both realise that sometimes appearances can be deceptive. Will their emerging feelings be enough to keep them together when the world is determined to tear them apart?"

Perfect Chemistry is about two very different people. Popular, rich, blond hair, blue eyed has-it-all girl Brittany Ellis. And poor, Mexican gangbanger with little to his name, Alex (Alejandro) Fuentes. But despite their very different circumstances and backgrounds, they both hide big secrets.

The blurb of this book, and it's title, lend itself to the impression that this could be a cheesy, cliched love story. But it's not and I love it! Both Brittany and Alex are very realistic, well rounded characters and it's hard not to empathise with them both as the story unfolds. It's told in first person, both from Britt and Alex's POV's, alternating every chapter. Which, to my surprise, flows very smoothly. It doesn't feel like it switches too often, or jarringly, it's just a smooth transition from one voice to the other and back. And they have very different tones to them as well, the different way they both think. They both have some good (and not so good) friends, who make up a decent secondary cast, adding to the depth of the book nicely.

There is a tension that builds slowly throughout the book as Alex and Britt deal with their various problems, the stereotypes and misconceptions that surround them. And their growing feelings for each other. As the reader, you know what both characters think and feel, but that's not necessarily how they come across to the other. Both of which, reality and the way they hide the truth, play very well and very realistically form start to finish. They play off each other so well, and with that tension, it made it very hard to put this book down!

I suppose in someways the outcome is predictable, but I wasn't reading this book to be surprised. It's a book about two different worlds colliding, and two teenagers growing up and discovering the world around them is bigger than first thought, and the lessons they learn along the way. And it's very well done! Well written, great character, paced just right and with some decent surprises along the way. And the only slightly cheesy thing about it? The epilogue, which made me laugh, so I don't particularly care, and it takes nothing away from the greatness of this book. I've not read any of Ms. Elkeles books before, but I will certainly be getting more, in particular the follow up book following Alex's younger brother, Rules of Attraction, just as soon as I can! A fantastic read! 9/10

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