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.
I finally got around to reading ‘Perfect Chemistry’ by Simone Elkeles after I saw the awesome book trailer for the sequel, ‘Rules of Attraction’, and decided that I had to get into the series.
It hooked me right from the beginning with a clear picture of Brittany’s home life with her mom and sister (who is disabled), and I loved the way that little details Elkeles gave each character- like Brittany’s scarf- were dealt with from both characters' perspectives to really cement how they felt about each other at the start of the book.
As the story progressed, Elkeles really dove into Alex’s struggle between being a gang member to protect his family, and wanting to get out to protect himself. He was definitely my favorite character- the contrast between his tough outer shell and his inner caring and loyal personality was executed brilliantly. His sense of morality was realistic and admirable, not cringe-worthy like certain characters in other books.
I didn’t feel as much of a connection with Brittany, possibly because she felt sorry for herself a little bit too much at times even considering her circumstances. That said, I did like her character, especially her relationship with her sister, Shelley.
One of the best things about ‘Perfect Chemistry’ was the superb supporting cast—Isabel, Paco, Sierra and of course Shelley. They were all beautifully characterized and authentic. The romance between Alex and Brittany also thoroughly appeased my hopelessly sappy side; their interactions alternated between funny and sweet, and almost always made me smile.
The plot twists made my heart pump, and I got thoroughly caught up in the whirlwind of gritty drama that concluded with a satisfying finale. I know many people have complained that the epilogue was cheesy, but personally I enjoyed it- the conclusion of that little running joke Elkeles had going through the whole of the chemistry class sections really made me laugh!