If you've read The Bookette's review of this book, you no doubt ran to the store and bought a copy. Becky calls it her favourite book of all time - and as a general rule, I tend to agree with her. But while I really enjoyed Perfect Chemistry - Elkeles's writing is positively addictive - I did have quite a few problems with the plot.
Let's start with what I did like. I thought Brittany was a wonderful heroine. At first, you'd think a cheerleader would not be a character you could identify with - but Brittany's love for her disabled sister was utterly endearing. I also loved how Elkeles discussed the real-life misery of most teens. Perfect Chemistry is filled with drugs, gang violence, teenage drinking and a fair bit of barely-suitable sex. Perhaps not what you want all teens reading, but that's real life for you. It isn't pretty and it sure isn't fun - but you can believe it.
Elkeles also did a brilliant job portraying the Mexican-American community - especially the family-oriented values of a lot of latinos. Alex does a lot of bad things out of duty and love to his family - and it felt real.
However, my main issues in Perfect Chemistry were with Alex. He's set up as this bad boy who secretly wants to be good - he is supposedly a brilliant student who only wants to go on to have a "normal" life. Apparently, he can't do just that out of fear of retribution from his gang. Kinda understandable - especially if he's protecting his family.
That's page one.
But then he spends the rest of the book enjoying the trouble he stirs up. Huh? I thought his bet to seduce Britt positively degrading - but somehow we were supposed to think he was doing it against his will. If he had started out a thug and then changed, his character would have made more sense (read my review of Rules of Attraction for a longer rant on the matter). Instead, all I wanted to do was slap him up the side of the head for 3/4 of the book. Honestly.
Bottom line? Even though I thought Perfect Chemistry was a fun, addictive read - it won't be on my favourites pile. Rules of Attraction, on the other hand...