Summary (via Goodreads): 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.
In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
Review: This book was entertaining enough, but I think all the hype I’d heard from various blogs left me a little disappointed. You can’t help but compare it to the movie Grease (which Elkeles even refers to at one tongue-in-cheek moment), and has the same fun, romantic, opposites attract feel to it. However, Elkeles’ has a certain social commentary and realism that reminds you that Alex isn’t ‘playing’ at being a gang member. I appreciated too that Elkeles deals with Brittany’s sister’s cerebral palsey with respect and honesty, never using Shelley as a cheap gimmick. She has as much personality and development as any of the other characters. I really enjoyed the main characters best friends, Sierra and Paco, who served not only as humorous distractions from the drama at certain points, but really proved that this book was about friendship and loyalty as much as it was a love story.
Perfect Chemistry started off really strong, allowing me to become invested in both Brittany and Alex’s lives, but as things developed it just seemed slightly contrived and their story wrapped up a little too neatly in the end to the point I kind of groaned and wished Elkeles had left a bit more to the imagination. That said, both characters were really well-rounded and I loved the dual POV. The dialogue, for the most part, was witty and clever.
I see the next in the series is about Carlos, Alex’s younger, hot-headed brother, who was probably my least favorite side character. I might give Rules of Attraction a try, but I’ve got so much on my to-read pile right now it probably won’t be any time soon.
Lit Snit Verdict: B-
Want another opinion? See what Emily and Her Little Pink Notes has to say about Perfect Chemistry.