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Perfect Chemistry #1

Perfect Chemistry

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A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.

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.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published December 23, 2008

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About the author

Simone Elkeles

37 books13.5k followers
Simone Elkeles is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels for teens. Simone’s books have won many awards including being YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, being named to the YALSA Popular Paperbacks and Teens Top Ten lists, and added to the Illinois “Read for a Lifetime” Reading List. Simone also won the coveted RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for her book Perfect Chemistry. Simone is especially proud of the fact that the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named her Author of the Year.

Simone was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, where she still lives today. Simone went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received her Bachelor’s of Science there in Psychology in 1992. She continued her education at Loyola University-Chicago where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees.

She loves animals (she has two dogs – a labradoodle and a German Shepherd), kids (she also has two of those) and her family. In her spare time she’s the Hockey Mom for her kids hockey teams and is an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors. (She also loves sushi, which you can probably tell by reading her books.) Simone writes about teens because she was a teen in the 80’s (when spiked hair and blue eye shadow were “rad”) and she loves writing about those exciting teen relationships and romances.

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5 stars
114,759 (44%)
4 stars
72,218 (28%)
3 stars
46,126 (17%)
2 stars
15,776 (6%)
1 star
8,529 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,492 reviews
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,188 reviews2,891 followers
December 15, 2008
This novel was fantastic, it was wonderful, it blew me away! After I finished reading it, I wanted to read it again... something in the story just really got to me. If I had to describe it I’d say it’s like Pretty in Pink meets West Side Story. You know Pretty in Pink, awesome 80's movie starring Molly Ringwald, rich guy falling for the poor girl on the other side of the tracks... West Side Story, forbidden love in the most extreme.

It’s obvious that Elkeles did her homework with this one. The gang dynamic is terrifyingly real. I will admit that initially I was worried. I didn’t think there was any way that she could spin a character that’s a gang member to be likeable, a hero even. I mean when I think of gangs, it’s drugs, drive-by’s, you know extremly shady things, how can that be appealing at any level. And yet Alex was. He was a “good” guy, he was that tragic hero.

And Brittany, her character was even more complex that I think the novel even revealed. She seemed so real, it felt like I knew her, or someone like her. And despite the apparent differences between the two characters, they were so much more alike than I would have ever guessed. It still seems impossible and yet I’ve seen it!

The chapters are alternated between Alex and Brittany, and I was so happy for that. I loved being able to glimpse into each of their heads and really understand what they were thinking and how they were effected by each other. Had the story not been told that way, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. I think that is what won Alex over for me, because I got to see how he struggled with the life that he didn’t want.

Elkeles writing was so smooth.... like butta. It just flowed right of the page, it was like I wasn’t even reading... I was there. I was Brittany, I was Alex. It was powerful. *goose bumps*

On the surface it may read like a love story but there is so much more going on. It’s a story of life lessons. Don’t judge a person by the color of their skin, don’t judge a person by the way that they look, talk, where they live.... I could go on. But I’ll stop there, and leave you with the recommendation to pick it up.

I’m really looking forward to what Elkeles has in store for us next.
Profile Image for SueBee★bring me an alpha!★.
2,417 reviews14k followers
August 15, 2017

★★★★★! Perfect Chemistry (stand-alone book 1). High school it-girl & rebel bad boy’s take on star-crossed lovers!

“He touched me as if I were made of glass. He kissed me as if he’d savor it for the rest of his life.”

Perfect Chemistry (stand-alone book 1) is a modern take on star-crossed lovers. The rebel bad-boy from the wrong side of town, Alejandro Fuentes, Alex and the perfect good-girl princess with the world-at-her-feet, Brittany Ellis, Brit forced to be chemistry lab partners for the year.

But there is more behind their facades…

The rebel is smart and caring and if he cannot get of the gang, at least his brothers stand a chance at a better life. The princess hides secrets, might have a heart and soon discovers she is not sold on the fairytale.

Contempt blossoms into an unlikely friendship…

But soon jealousy, lust, secrets, betrayal and violence will turn their lives upside down. Her oh so perfect life will crumble. His bleak future will take a turn for the worse…

“Sometimes I wish there were do over years or fast forward days”

Seven words to describe Alejandro Fuentes, Alex: Smart, caring, noble, reliable, broken, hard-headed and secretive.

“And may God strike me down right now because I want to make love to Brittany, not fuck her on my motorcycle like some cheap whore.”

Seven words to describe Brittany Ellis, Brit: Loyal, shallow, caring, conflicted, desperate, lonely and secretive.

“My life is perfect. My clothes are perfect. Even my family is perfect. And although it’s a complete lie, I’ve worked my butt off to keep up the appearance.”

Perfect Chemistry, told from dual POVs, is a beautifully told coming-of-age romance with hopes and dreams; sorrows and secrets; regrets and forgiveness. It ends wonderfully with an epilogue two decades into the future.

“It relaxes me.”
“Do I make you nervous?”
His gaze travels from my eyes to my breasts and down to where my dress meets my thighs. “In that dress you do.”

Hero rating: 5 stars
Heroine rating: 5 stars
Sexual tension rating: 5 stars
Sex scenes rating: 3.5 stars
Sex scenes frequency: 4 stars
Plot rating: 5 stars
Dialogue rating: 5 stars
Storytelling rating: 5 stars
Story ending rating: 6 stars
Overall rating: 5 stars

Would I recommend this story: Yes.
Would I re-read this story: Maybe later.
Would I read future books by this author: Yes.

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Profile Image for Roohdaar.
165 reviews1,781 followers
August 12, 2016
This was good. Yes, it was insanely cliche, unrealistic, and would never happen to two teenagers in real life. We all know that. Some high school kids are too immature to fall in love. But I can't say for all teenagers. However, Elkeles made it so believable.

At first, I hated Brittany. The I'm-so-perfect facade she pulls off really angered me. I was Alex, hating her for being fake and perfect and untouchable. Then I slowly began to feel her pain. I began to know her and understand what she does and why she does it. However, sometimes she annoys me. She's so...angsty and tireless.

Anyway, obviously, this story is ridiculously cliched. But I didn't mind so much. I loved how the romance slowly developed throughout the book. It seemed so natural. Nothing made me go, "Come on! You guys just had to bump into each other everywhere." It didn't annoy me for some odd reason.

Overall, I loved this book because of how it made me feel about so many things. Alex, Shelley, the pressure from parents, etc. It was so truly understandable.
Profile Image for Fran.
49 reviews62 followers
March 31, 2011
I'm just not the right person to read YA books. Even though I'm technically the target audience for these (me being a teen and all), I've found that I just hate 90 % of them. Even most of the ones other people seem to like, I hate. So if you're a person who doesn't dislike super cheesy writing and a million clichés, this book will probably be a fun read for you and you shouldn't let my bad review keep you from reading it.

I really only read this book because so many people on Goodreads seemed to love it. Otherwise I would have never in a million years picked it up. Reading the back of the book in the bookstore, I had my doubts about it but I still wanted to give it a try.

I can easily sum up the problems I had with this book: The cover is cheesy, the story is cheesy, the writing is cheesy.

Now of course the cover wasn't an actual factor in my decision to give this book a 1 star rating but I'd like to say that, had I looked at more closely before buying it, I would've been able to at least expect a cheesy book.

The story is what bothered me most because it's obviously been done a million times before. I generally wouldn't mind if it had been a good version of the "good girl falls for bad boy"-type story. The whole Latino Blood gang stuff and the rich people factor just made this book more ridiculous because that way they also added the "poor guy falls for rich girl" and the "oh no my parents will dissaprove"-drama. So that was pretty stupid. I also hated the random spanish that was used in every single sentence in all of the Alex chapters. It was just overused and made me cringe a lot. I sometimes also didn't really understand what he meant and they never really explained it but I figured it's not actually important to the story so I stopped trying to understand it eventually.

I don't wanna get too into it but the Latino Blood gang thing had me rolling my eyes every single time they mentioned it. It was just SO over the top and the type of cliché I couldn't even imagine a writer using before I read this book. As soon as it was mentioned, I knew this book would not be one I'd end up liking.

The writing was also completely cheesy. (I'm really sorry for using that word so much by the way but I can't find any other one that fits.) Instead of showing us how the character feels, the author kept talking about it. It got to the point where I got angry as soon as a character mentioned feelings in any kind of way. It drove me crazy. Super cringeworthy.

Speaking of cringeworthy moments, there were a lot of those in this book. Brittany's unrealistic and clichéd parents, the fact that the author added Shelley to make Brittany seem less 'perfect' and give her a reason for it all, Alex's dad who got shot during a drug deal, Brittany being a popular girl with the perfect boyfriend who doesn't make her happy, Alex taking an interest in her because of a bet, ... I could go on because the entire book was a total cliché in my honest opinion and those tend to make me cringe.

I sincerely hope the reason why people seem to love this book so much is not "Alex Fuentes is hot and dangerous" (Ke$ha reference not intended). I didn't like it at all and had to force myself to keep reading after chapter 5.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
March 30, 2012

I read this a while ago and I always meant to review but never ended up getting around to it until now. I have a few things I want to say, the first that it wasn't entirely unenjoyable, the low rating reflects several things but I want to point out that I understand why so many people love this book and I think it would be better for the majority to read it themselves and make their own minds up - I know that I am again in the minority.

It's quite a nice Romeo and Juliet type of forbidden romance. Alex Fuentes is an outsider, a gang member, and his kind and Britney's do not mix. Britney is the most popular girl in school, very pretty and a cheerleader (of course), it always seems in these types of scenarios it's only a matter of time before she gets fed up with her squeaky clean world and falls for a bad boy - which is what happens. But the whole thing is such a cliche.

A cheerleader and a bad boy... it's Grease except the male love interest is Mexican, but the ideas are generally the same. The story is very predictable and therefore quite dull, despite the fact that there is definitely chemistry built up in the book. There are some fairly hot, if not very descriptive, sex scenes that set the book apart from all the other cliched teen romances - this I liked. But it still didn't make up for the extreme lack of originality on the author's part. There was also the usual (and annoying) displays of self-doubt and insecurities that seem to go hand in hand with romance novels.

I know it'd be no fun if they got together in chapter one, but why do they both always have to start questioning themselves. Especially seeing as sometimes it's blatantly obvious that the other person likes them, they couldn't be sending off much stronger signals if they came out with a banner saying "I'm into you". Are we really expected to feel sorry for Britney when she's checking herself out in a mirror and complaining about her faults? This is a girl who we are repeatedly told is Barbie come to life: perfect figure, perfect skin, hair, teeth... sorry, but the pity isn't there.

The thing is... the book is really... cute. But I'm tired of Ms good girl cheerleader meets mr bad boy gang member. That's why my rating is "it's ok", I wouldn't go as far as to say I actually liked it.

Profile Image for  Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~*.
118 reviews386 followers
September 1, 2011

5 Stars!!! - Also reviewed at: Lady Jayne's Reading Den

(This is an Adult-who-enjoys-reliving-the-stirrings-of-first-love-and-self-discovery-during-the-teen-years-through-YA books review)

**CONTENT WARNING - Since this is a YA book I will include a warning that this book contains some Sexual, Drug and Alcohol, Course Language and Violent Content - Recommended for Older Teens**

I LOVED this book!!! Perfect Chemistry is an urban story of star-crossed lovers from “different sides of the track” – Brittany Ellis, from the "North side", a picture-perfect rich girl who is captain of the pom squad (ie. a cheerleader), and bad-boy Alex Fuentes, from the "South side", a member of the Latino Bloods Gang.

At first, I wondered how I could fall for a gang member, but Alex totally stole my heart. The fact that my Alex Fuentes, while I was reading, looked like Steven Strait in my head didn’t hurt either. ^_^

I was drawn into this story from the beginning and spent an enjoyable weekend reading it. I felt a connection to both Alex and Brittany, who wear masks every day and hide their true selves and fears from the world. But behind those veneers are two people who are struggling in their own worlds, and they find they have more in common than they thought. What starts out as a forced seating arrangement in a Chemistry lab turns into so much more, and starts an elemental change and pull that neither of them can resist. They must fight expectations, duty, prejudice and other chains that drag them apart.

The story may be one that has been told before, but it is how Simone Elkeles paints the story of Alex and Brittany through a blend of both their perspectives, with what I feel are very authentic voices, that brings an honesty and depth to the characters, and thus, the story. I loved how each chapter alternated between Brittany’s and Alex’s POVs and yet the story flowed well. I couldn't help but feel immersed in their world and to care about what happened to them.

I loved Alex's friends, Paco and Isa, and Brittany's sister, Shelly.

The scene near the end left me in tears, and there’s a violent scene in here that was very difficult for me to read because it brought back the pain of a violence that touched my own family’s lives. As I closed the last page, though, I was left smiling and actually wanted the epilogue to keep going.

Alex and Brittany will hold a very special place in my heart.

This is the first book I've read by Simone Elkeles and I look forward to the sequel, Rules of Attraction, and reading other books penned by this author. Definitely HIGHLY recommended!

These are some of my favourite quotes:

" ‘The reason I want you to put a shirt on is, well, because, um...'
'You've never seen a guy with his shirt off?'
'Ha, ha. Very funny. Believe me, you don't have anything I haven't seen before.'
'Wanna bet?' he says, then moves his hands to the button on his jeans and pops it open.
Isabel walks in at that exact moment. 'Whoa, Alex. Please keep your pants on.’"


"This connection we have isn't going away, it's only getting stronger. Because the more I spend time with her, the closer I want to be."

"I want to know how to make this girl laugh. I want to know what makes her cry. I want to know what it feels like to have her look at me as if I’m her knight in shinning armor"

"Brittany: "I'm losing control."
Alex: “Mamacita, I've already lost it."


"I can't help but smile as I swipe a lone tear trailing down my cheek. How can I not be crazy in love with this guy?" - (I know just what you mean, Brittany! *sighs*)

P.S. Okay, I now have a different yummy image of Alex Fuentes - Alexander F. Rodriguez. Mmmm... mmmm...he makes a FINE Alex!

My Alex (Alexander F. Rodriguez):

My Brittany (Diana Agron):

Reading Order for the series:

1. Perfect Chemistry
2. Rules of Attraction - Review here
3. Chain Reaction - Review here

Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1) by Simone Elkeles Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2) by Simone Elkeles Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry, #3) by Simone Elkeles

DISCLAIMER: I do not hold the copyright to any of the images used in this review. They are posted to add visuals to the review and for fun. If any of these images are yours and you would like me to remove them, please let me know, and I will do so as soon as possible. If I can identify the copyright, I will do so.

August 3, 2009
First of all, I want to thank my Goodreads friend, Shannon, for recommending this wonderful book. My life was so enriched by the reading of it. I also want to thank Ms. Simone Elkeles for putting fingers to keyboard and bringing this incredible story of the love between Alex and Brittany to life.

Life is cruel and harsh, and we all wear armor to protect ourselves against the pain of loss and the hardships we face. In Perfect Chemistry, we see two very different people who have a kindred soul. They are both walking through life wearing protection and disguises for their survival. One of the most illuminating and fascinating parts of this story is when these two reluctant chemistry partners are asked to tell the class a little bit about each other. What they say represents what the two of them want the world to see about themselves, even if that's not who they want to be.

Alex is a tough gangbanger, macho (and very appealing) Latino young man. He has pretty much had to join the Latino Bloods gang because his family and his own life would be in jeopardy otherwise. So far, he has managed to stay out trouble with the law, and to avoid crossing the line and killing and selling drugs. But the time is coming where he may not be able to prevent that transition. He sees Brittany and she is all he ever wanted but couldn't have. He tells himself that she's just a blond princess type, no substance, but he soon finds out that is far from the case.

I fell head over heels for Alex. He was not perfect, but even his imperfections endeared him to me. Under the scary, macho gang facade, he is a very perceptive, intelligent, and loving person. His caring nature is evident in how he treats his brothers and his mother, and even his friend Paco, and also how he treats Brittany, despite the teasing and sexual innuendoes. He comes off as being hardcore, but his heart is very good. I have to say that he was a very sexy guy. I was surprised at how much charisma this eighteen year-old kid was. I could imagine this drop dead gorgeous guy with black hair and dark eyes, a seductive smile, and a hard-body, riding his motorcycle. I am not big on gangs or the urban lifestyle, but this was so much a part of him, that it didn't lessen his appeal at all.

I loved seeing the world through his eyes, and enjoyed the authentic Latino/Mexicano flavor of his thoughts and language. I have a deep appreciation for Mexican culture, and I feel that Ms. Elkeles showed this in a manner that did it justice, adding to the depth and the characterization of Alex and flavoring the life he lives. Gosh, I cannot tell you how much I adored Alex. He made some bad choices, but also suffered for things beyond his control, and my heart ached to see what he had to go through. But deep down, I never doubted that he had a good head on his shoulders and he would end up doing the right thing in the end. I wanted for him to get out of that destructive lifestyle, and I was holding my breath hoping that he did.

I loved Brittany as well. She was a very three-dimensional character, even from the beginning. She might seem like the girl that I would avoid like the plague in high school, one of the shallow 'beautiful people,' but she had a really good heart, and was a very loving person. She was under tremendous stress trying to keep things together and maintain a perfect facade that was getting harder and harder to keep up. Her homelife was very difficult, with her hypercritical mother who was on the edge of emotional collapse, and her father who spent more time at work and thinking about work than interacting with his family. She is weighted down by her family's enormous expectations to always be perfect and to represent them well. Her steadfast love for her disabled, mentally-challenged sister really opened my heart to her, from the first page of the book. Shelley was very important to Brittany, although even her boyfriend was uncomfortable being around her. So she didn't let people come to her life or talk about Shelley. Not out of embarrassment, but because of the fact that Shelley was a private, personal part of her life that others didn't understand or know how to deal with. It meant a lot when she introduced Alex to Shelley and he hit it off with her right away.

Like Alex, Brittany impressed me as a very level-headed, mature for her age person. I really appreciated how she was able to look past Alex's scary gang facade and see the warm, loving boy inside. She inspired Alex to want to strive and to be the person he was meant to be. This book really teaches a lesson about judging a book by its cover. Brittany would be the kind of girl that would be envied by many. But the truth is, her life was very difficult, despite living in a big, beautiful house, driving an expensive car, and wearing designer clothes. Being the captain of the pom-pom team and dating the head quarterback isn't all it's cracked up to be, and Brittany knows this first hand. And it's clear that she would willingly give that up without any regrets to have a true love, even with someone so different from her as Alex. However, the fear of what will happen to Shelley if she lets go, keeps her on the narrow path that has been given to her to walk. It is wonderful when Brittany decides to go where her heart leads her, although she does have to deal with some anguish and heartbreak along the way.

This couple is one of my favorite couples of all times. That's saying something for this serious romance fan. I never thought I could feel that way about a couple in a young adult book, but I believe Twilight did open the door for me to young adult romance, and I am very glad about this. Alex and Brittany meet each other's needs in every way. They had blistering sexual chemistry between them, yet Ms. Elkeles wrote this book in such a way that I didn't feel conflicted about reading these teens expressing themselves sexually. You could see that every encounter came from a deep connection on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level. I loved how they saw each other clearly in a way that no one else did. That is what soulmates should do for each other.

The cast of secondary characters added to the flavor and the depth of this beautiful story. Some of the people in both Alex and Brittany's life are not good for them, and do much to hinder their growth, but people like Paco, Alex's best friend, Isabel, a childhood friend of Alex who becomes Brittany's friend, Ms. Peterson, and Sierra, Brittany's friend, do their part to help Alex and Brittany on the journey to self-discovery and finding a future together. Ms. Peterson, their chemistry teacher, was the kind of educator that we need more of. She works hard to inspire her students, and didn't give up on Alex and write him off as just another Mexican gangbanger who was going to end up dead or in prison.

This book has some parts that were hard to read, but they needed to be there, because it is a story about a young man who is surrounded by violence and crime on a daily basis. There had to be some of this in the book, or it would have lacked authenticity. Fortunately, this does not detract from the story, but helps you to see what Alex is dealing with, and to respect him for the choices he makes to have a better future.

The climax of this book will have your heart in your throat, and tears welling up in your eyes. But the way this book ends gives the reader so much hope and joy. It's truly a perfect ending to this book.
I could go on and on about how wonderful Perfect Chemistry is, but I will end by saying, if you read one young adult book, please put this on the list to consider. You won't come out of this book without having your heart touched.
Profile Image for Nicole.
25 reviews10 followers
February 20, 2009
While I appreciate Simone Elkeles attempt to write a story with a lovely "moral" I can't help but point out that there aren't any in this book. I don't support the explicit language and although I know by my daily junior-high life that teens actually talk like this, and 10 times worse, why encourage cursing? Is not the ultimate goal for every adult, and every teenager besides, to set the foundation for positive, sophisticated, and well-mannered demeanors? And the fact that Brittany and Alex had sex but ended up falling in love, getting happily married, and had a cute little kid while curing Alzheimer’s to boot is not realistic at all. Only a small percentage of teens actually end up staying together after high school and on to college much less get betrothed. This only creates a fantasy for teens that if you have sex with your partner they will never forget you, go crazy about, track you down and then you live a happily ever after with them. And this is not even mentioning the violence and alcohol abuse used in the plot line. What is my advice to Simone Elkeles? Next time you write a novel, please consider whose moral compass you might contribute to destroying.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews946 followers
October 11, 2011
“Alex probably brings his dates sharp knives as gifts, in case she’ll need one when she’s out on a date with him.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Well considering I thought I was going to read about two pages of this book before giving up, I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this one. Maybe I am a girl after all. Gosh.

High Points.
Brittany. Alex. PacoPacoPaco. Pom squad. Garages. Motorcycles. Science projects. Beaches. Leather jackets. Bandanas. Chichis. The phrase “ripped bod”. Muffins. Hand warmers…and sex.

Low Points.
I’ll be the first person to admit that I get unnecessarily angry about epilogues.
WHY? Why are they needed? Books, as a rule, are better just left with an ambiguous ending. Because us readers like to fill in the blanks, don’t we? We like to get our own way. We like to give our beloved characters a happy ending. We like to give our most hated characters a quick shove off a cliff.
Most epilogues force characters into ridiculous situations that are either twee, implausible or just so sickly sweet you just want to throw not the book out of the window, but yourself.
This epilogue was one of them.
I was half expecting Albus Severus Potter to be chilling out in the back of that classroom as they all come up with the cure for the common cold.
Also…. There seemed to be a whole lot of nothing happening in some chapters and then A MILLION things happening in others.
And, I think the American definition of ‘gangbanger’ is different to the British one.
If not… Alex just got a whole lot more interesting.

Oh, I loved Brittany. Like most people who’ve read this book I had pretty much decided I was going to hate her and read her sections with a scowl on my face.
But, out of the two, I actually preferred Brittany’s chapters over Alex’s. I’ll go into this more later, but her narration seemed more natural and her feelings and thoughts were a lot more believable.
Even though I don’t think we’d be friends if I had attended this Fairfield (My school was actually called Fairfield…. But unfortunately my chemistry lessons contained more old, wooden desks that put ladders in your tights when you get near to them rather than sexy Mexicano lovers that put ladders in your tights when you get near to them.), I still liked you. It’s just that we have absolutely nothing in common except we occasionally use muffin analogies to describe the state of our life.
But you were lovely and sweet and caring and a bit of a saucy minx when you wanted to be.
Car garages, eh?

Alright, Alejandro. Sorry, I know you don’t like being called that. But I like to say it… and then sing it.
But we’ll stick with Alex.
You were very cute and I liked that you were a bit of a one and talked about chichis and how you’d keep the light on and all sorts of things to make a good girl like me blush.
I also loved your history and your background and how you were loyal and were a good hermano to the mini-Alex’s that ran around in the background.
Also, you sound so effin’ hot it’s insane.
But, going back to the reason why I wasn’t 100% sold on your chapters… saying things like “She’s like a mystery, and all I can think about is unravelling the clues” and “We’re actors in our lives, pretendin’ to be who we want people to think we are” is a sure fire way of getting a slap from moi.
Seriously, I know you’re not rotten to the core. You’re all gooey in the middle and being a gang-whatever doesn’t define who you truly are on the inside.
You don’t have to keep trying to convince me.
I get it… you’re deep.

“Problem is, the bathroom pass can’t help you escape life”.

OK, but can it help me escape those little nuggets of wisdom?

Theme Tune.

Love Goes Down by Plan B

I’ve chosen this song because it’s one of the few modern love songs that isn’t overly sappy and vile and errrrugh. And I just think this entire album is genius.
AND this song is before Mr Banks gets dumped unceremoniously, goes to prison and then kills someone in self-defence and everything is still lovely and cute and sexysexy.
But don’t worry guys! We know our Alejandro doesn’t share that same fate thanks to that cracking epilogue.


Boy/Girl Angst Level.
6/10. It could’ve been a lot worse.
I liked Alex and Brittany together, I thought they made a great couple… but I couldn’t help but wish they had had more ‘Urgh, I hate you’ moments before they decided that they were going to be soul mates.
I don’t know… but I loved their banter and their…wait for it... wait for itchemistry when they were all fizzy and zingy and snarky with each other. Sure, they could be soulmates eventually… but I wanted more oomph.

Sadness Scale.
5/10. I wanted this book to be sadder and all the elements were there but, like I said before, the pacing kind of prevented it.
It seemed the truly sad and distressing moments were kind of just brushed over. Especially the bit at the end!

Recommended For.

People who are looking for a slightly predictable yet still fun romance book. People who don’t mind a book about chemistry that isn’t actually about chemistry. Unless we count the cure for Alzheimer’s. But it’s probably best if we don’t. People who always add “And to sex” under their breath when they are making toasts. People who think garages are for sexytime. People who wish their driving instructor was a boy with a leather jacket (although a lovely Welshman with a ton of patience at me squealing whenever a sheep got too close to the dry stone walls that lined the windy (and icy) roads of Llanberis would always be my second choice). People who wish their teenage rebellion involved a sexy boy on a motorbike. People who use delicious baked treats to describe their mental states.

You can read this review and lots of other exciting stuff on my blog here.
August 6, 2020
My niece was reading this book and asked me what I thought of it. I read it last year and was so incensed at how horrible it was, this review (which has undergone several revisions from the original pissed-off rant) has been sitting in My Documents until now when the discussion of Perfect Chemistry came up again. I somehow managed to survive this EPIC RACEFAIL/GENDERFAIL of a book. Seriously, I wondered if the author ever met a stereotype she didn't internalize in some fashion. To say that she has become an automatic never-buy-or-read-even-if-she-were-the-last-book-on-earth is an understatement.

I never set out to just hate a book sight unseen and even though I had the feeling Perfect Chemistry was going to be a perfect disaster, I gave it a chance because some of my Goodreads friends recommended it since they know I love interracial romance. Yes Virginia, I absolutely, positively HATED this book and it's only the second book I've ever read where I wished I believed in book burning because this one would be roasting hot dogs by now.

Did I mention how stereotype-laden this dreck thinly disguised as a YA romance was? Okay, try Mexican teenage boy who's poor and is in a gang meets pretty, White and rich teenage girl and they fall in love much to the consternation of the people around them. Really? Mexican teenage boy in a gang? Whoa. Just as good as Mexican boy as gardener? Or Mexican teenage boy as car wash attendant? I guess Mexican teenage boy as geeky science student from a stable and loving family wouldn't have worked, right? Don't tell me, readers wouldn't have bought it. I get it, this is supposedly a "Romeo and Juliet" type plot, but in that play both tragic characters are in the same socio-economic status, just from different families. So Alex could have been wealthy AND Mexican and this story would have still worked. Or both Alex and Brittany could have been working class.

Worse still are her descriptions of "gang life" which read like they came straight from the film 'American Me' or from the docu-series on A&E, 'Gangland'. It's basically over-the-top gratuitous based on a little google research and some television shows which is all that's needed to portray 'realistic' gang life sans nuance. The first thing I thought while reading about Alex was, why did he have to be in a gang? The story would have been just fine if he was just from the wrong side of the tracks, a poor kid with smarts trying to make good. And what was with the random high school-esque Spanish thrown in when Alex was talking with his family and his friends?

Next on the chopping block, Brittany. There are few female characters I've had the urge to slap silly, and she's right at the top of the list. Puddles have more depth than this girl. Oh yes, she struggles to be perfect, but everything's about her looks. We're constantly told how she's this Barbie Doll brought to life with her perfect hair, skin, body, makeup, boyfriend, etc. Where's the rest of her? I'm sure she's smart but I never got that impression. I got the impression of a spoiled, self-centered little rich girl who tossed this Mexican gangbanger-gone-good named Alex at her upper-crust parents in order to piss them off. I just didn't see any indication that she really cared for Alex, nor he for her (since she was part of a bet over a car). Maybe it was the writing, which was just painfully bad.

Unlike some readers, the sex and drugs aspect was probably the most accurate part of the book. Whether we want to deal with it or not, some teens are engaging in this behavior and we have to start dealing with it in an honest fashion. If there was any romance involved, I had a hard time seeing it because of all the rest of the FAIL.

The sad fact that this book won so many awards is just mindboggling at best but also shows these groups need a serious shot of actual #ownvoices on their panels. There's no way a book this racially insulting should be winning anything save a Razzie, if they had them for books. The sad thing is, there's a dearth of well-written YA interracial romances out there. We need more of them featuring well-rounded characters doing typical YA things and written by BIPoC authors.
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.2k followers
December 27, 2014
THIS BOOK WAS SO CUTE. It wasn't just a mushy teen romance book but also dealt with more serious issues. The character development was flawless and I'm so happy I read this book!
Profile Image for Madita.
523 reviews19.1k followers
November 8, 2022
Oh I ate this up.
This was the most basic like bad boy romance book with every cliche you can only imagine.
This book is rich girl and guy from the wrong side of the tracks and the book was I think a really good pace until like the last 50 pages which were VERY VERY fast paced.

Honestly overall I still really loved it for being a bad boy romance story and it was cute and quick to read.
Did I tear up for a good 5 minutes? absolutely and I cannot wait to read the sequels

There were some things though I was questioning just a bit
Profile Image for Jasmin.
360 reviews78 followers
November 17, 2014
Class, silence please. I am your teacher for today.

What happens if you add a weak acid with a conjugate base?

Ah! Forget my blubbering silly chemistry.

How bout this formula below?

What happens if you add this hot Latino hunk
plus this blonde cheerleader
[image error]

*wrong buzzer sound*

No class, we do not get perfect chemistry.

We get this movie instead:
[image error]

*hands shoot up in the air*

Okay I am not fit to be a teacher since I'm talking nonsense here.

But really, what is perfect chemistry?

I'm not a master of the subject, but after reading this, I could say that perfect chemistry isn't perfect at all. (okay, that totally sounded weird). Perfect chemistry isn't shared by two people who are too alike that they never ever have a spat. It isn't shared by two people who are too different that they never ever have something to agree about. It's actually something two people have, that despite the differences that attract them and the same feathers that make them flock together, that despite all the perfect moments, the incomplete moments still has the ability to feel perfect. Perfect, maybe not in a good way, but rather something that still makes them feel complete, just like how a puzzle pieces fit. But these things are better to be felt than read about. :)

Brittany Ellis, is the perfect girl. She has the perfect face, the perfect hair, the perfect pair of breasts, the perfect boyfriend. But her life is far from perfect. Her parents are only there to mandate rules on how to employ being perfect while hiding her retarded big sister at home. Don't get me wrong. Brittany isn't just another bitch in high school. She's the cheerleader with a heart, with too much love for her sister.

Alejandro Fuentes, Alex for short, is the perfect way to make a girl sin. He's hot and has biceps, triceps and all sort of eps but he's in the Latino Blood gang. He's Mr. Tough Guy. But behind it all, is a gangbanger with a heart, with too much love for his family.

See, both of them have hearts. But they couldn't possibly suit. Brittany's from the upper crust of society, while Alex is from the slums. So how could they ever have perfect chemistry between them?

As I said, I'm no master on the subject. But Alex and Brittany just work good together. Starting from Brittany almost running down Alex with her car, to being Chemistry partners, they end up getting there and having perfect chemistry. But I'm not saying the road towards getting there was easy. The track they might have chosen might be the one less traveled but it's all worth it.

Simon Elkeles makes it worth it. For this is a story that isn't full of stuff that sounds too good to be true. This is a story that feels so real that it's so beautiful.

And btw, who wouldn't want to find someone they could share perfect chemistry with? ♥
Profile Image for Julie Kagawa.
Author 116 books24.7k followers
June 30, 2009
I adore this book.

This is not a genre I read often. The genres I read often include dragons, faeries, werewolves (I've sworn off vampires for awhile), wizards, magic, flying carpets, kings, queens, and talking pink rabbits. In other words, I'm a big fantasy buff. BUT, then I saw the booktrailer for Perfect Chemistry ...


And was so intrigued and amused, I had to go buy it. I could give a summary, but the trailer does a much better job, so all I'll say is that it was amazing. I thought I would despise the female lead, Brittney, but from the first chapter, she shows she's not the stuck-up ditz I thought she'd be and I really connected with her. Alex, ah Alex. I always had a thing for stoic bad-boys with tragic pasts. And, what can I say, I'm a hopeless romantic after all. The chemistry (pun intended) between them was intense, and made me melt into a big happy puddle of goo.

So to summarize:

Story: A. A classic Romeo and Juliet story, only with gangs and cheerleaders.

Characters: A+. I've read a lot of YA where I couldn't stand the protag, especially if it's a female. Call me old fashioned, but being rude and condescending does not come off as "snarky" or "tough," just smack-worthy. Alex and Brittney never got to the point where I wanted to slap them. They both acted like real, relatable teenagers, each with their own set of problems that they were dealing with in their own way.

Writing: A. No flowery language or stunning descriptions here, but the writing is real and down-to-earth, yet executed in such a way that you really feel what the characters are going through. And the ending left me grinning like an idiot. Overall, I can't say enough good things about this book. So, watch the trailer, and then go out and get this book. You won't be dissapointed.

Profile Image for Elizabeth.
274 reviews723 followers
September 23, 2020

Quick synopsis: Brittany Ellis has a secret: even though she's got stunning good looks, a designer wardrobe, straight As, and a rockin' bod (of which the reader will be reminded over and over again), her life is anything but perfect. Her older sister is disabled and requires 'round the clock care, and her parents are (laughably) wretched.

Alex Fuentes is a Mexican teen from the wrong side of the tracks. His father was murdered before his eyes when he was a child and he'll do anything to protect his mother and younger brothers - including joining a deadly gang, The Latino Blood.

So I'm sure you can see where things go from here.

First of all, the tropes - the tropes! Perfect Chemistry is rampant with annoying YA tropes. Informed Attractiveness, Insta-Love, Switching POV, Love Triangle, Good Girl Falls for Bad Boy, Hate to Love, Highschool Hierarchy, The Virgin, Being "Fixed" By a Love Interest, Characters Are "Not As They Seem", STEREOTYPES, it's all there. Every irritating thing you've ever come across in a YA novel is in this book.

Simone Elkeles's portrayal of Mexican American teens is abysmal. I don't pretend to know the first thing about Latin American culture, but I refuse to believe that these kids would refer to girls as "mamacitas" every few sentences and bust out in a Spanish rant every time they were upset by something. And again, with the cliches - nearly everybody on the South side is connected to the Latino Blood, they're poor, they're tough... Meanwhile everyone on the North side is white, obsessed with appearances, rich, snooty... and both sides are equally judgemental of each other. Even though Alex fiercely hates the idea of those who don't know him having an opinion of him, he has an opinion of everyone. Pot? Yeah, you're black.

Brittany Ellis is also a piece of work. She lets the reader know over and over again that she does everything in her power to keep people at arm's length and prevent them from getting glimpses of "the real" Brittany. It's so damaged and tragic and incredibly annoying. There isn't a real Brittany! There is only a Brittany that doesn't tell people about her disabled sister which is interesting to me because she loves to accuse her parents of being ashamed of Shelley but then, Brittany darling, why keep her a secret from your friends if you aren't also ashamed? Hmm? Lovingly feeding your disabled sister behind closed doors does not make you a saint, sweetheart. Shelley deserves a much better family if you ask me.

Then there's the whole Brittany is a Virgin thing which I'm just too old to read about. Sex is a whole different ball game once you're an adult and it's hard for me to remember a time when people actually cared about if you were having it or not and how many people you were doing it with. When she and Alex finally do it, it's hilarious. I LOVE that Simone tried to throw in a safe sex warning that ended up being a total fail. They play a weird striptease game during which Brittany asks Alex how many girls he's slept with and if he's been tested. Hot tip, kids: asking a guy if he's been tested for STIs mere minutes before you take your clothes off is a surefire way to NOT get an accurate answer. Yeah. As if he even remembers the last time he was tested when your ta-tas are hanging out of your lacy bra.

What next? The whole love affair is sickening. Yes, I remember what it was like. I remember thinking my entire life revolved around a guy and that if I couldn't be with him I wouldn't be able to go on, but that's just called "teenage brain isn't fully formed" and it's not good to encourage this behaviour. I fully believe it's healthy to experience romantic relationships but it's also unhealthy to remain with the first person you met in highschool. How will you ever grow as an individual? And there's no such thing as this desperate, dramatic love! It's such a poor example of what a relationship should be like. In real life, after all the drama, Brittany and Alex would wake up and realise they have nothing in common.

God, the ending. The ending. If there was one positive aspect about this book it's that it was fucking readable. Until the last six or so chapters where Simone's writing just fell to pieces. It became choppy, disjointed and painfully cheesy. I literally LAUGHED during the death of a character when he gasps "The Latino Blood betrayed us both, man" and then croaks. What kind of terrible soap opera dialogue is that? Not to mention Simone seriously has a problem with transitions. One minute Alex and Brittany are fighting and the next paragraph they've been broken up for a while with no reference to time lines.

As for the epilogue, we just won't talk about it. It's worse than when Harry Potter named his kids Lily, James, and Albus Severus.
Profile Image for Elise ✘ a.k.a Ryder's Pet ✘.
1,314 reviews2,817 followers
March 15, 2017
Re-read: 24.09.15
“You are the one girl that made me risk eveything for a future worth having.”

“We're actors in our lives, pretendin' to be who we want people to think we are.”

Story; Brittany is picture perfect. She has everything. She's beautiful, she's smart, she is dating the popular guy at school. Everyone want to be her and be with her. Her life is perfect. Brittany is the white chick from the rich side of town. Alex is the bad boy. He's poor. He is in a gang. He is dangerous. He's hot, sexy, and in control. People expect him to follow his dad's footsteps or his people's footsteps. Alex is an Mexican boy from the other side of town.

“Playing with fire doesn't necessarily get you burned.”

They are forced to be lab partners and Alex has made a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his bed. Alex gets to see through Brittany's mask, sees the real Brittany without the attitude, without the facade. He just sees her for who she really is. They both thought they were so different... But life has a way of showing you that you were (are) wrong. We can actually learn a great deal of things from Brittany and Alex, specially with them being together, which is not common and looked down on from Brittany's "people".

“Makin' mistakes ain't a crime, you know. What's the use of having a reputation if you can't ruin it every now and then?”

Characters; Brittany Ellis is fantastic! She is so strong and loyal. I love how she is with her sister, Shelley. So careful and dedicated to her. It's beautiful to see. Brittany has quite a pressure from her parents, specially from her mother who is kinda crazy from my pov. Brittany is beautiful, inside out. She puts quite a mask on her, pretending she is perfect, that her life is perfect, but really, nothing is perfect, specially not her family. No one saw through her mask, except Alex...

“I'm losing control."
Mamacita, I've already lost it."

Alex Fuentes , oh my dear, Alex... Boy do I love you! You're bloody fantastic, sexy, hot, loving and, and, PERFECT! I love you!! Wait, didn't I just say that? Anyways, I love you, Alex! I love how much respect he has for his mother, how much he loves his family and how much he tries to help them even though he have to give up his chance at having a good future. He didn't really need anything else in his life, didn't need the distraction and the want for more, didn't want the feeling of something missing, didn't need to want to be a good man until he got to know Brittany, until he saw through her mask and wanted to know her more. Wanted to know who she really was... Wanted to give her everything...

This thing with Brittany is supposed to be about a bet, not falling for a north sider. I have to keep in mind that I'm only interested in Brittany because of the bet, and I better ignore what I suspect are real feelings.
Feelings can't be a part of this game.

Overall; Jesus, I cannot believe I waited so long before I re-read it :O We all need a little Alex and Brittany in our lives, just sayin' and I shouldn't have gone so long with out them... Simone Elkeles is a brilliant writer and her books are awesome. Though I haven't continued with this series, mainly because I really only want Alex, I have still read her other book 'Wild Cards' which was awesome, but 'Perfect Chemistry' is the best! I'm pretty sure I'll re-read it yet again in the future because it's simply that amazing.

“I want to try making things right because picking up the pieces is way better than leaving them the way they are.”

Oh, I forgot to tell you; the quotes in this book is so fantastic and inspiring! I love them ♥ Oh and I want more Alex btw... And everyone should read this book!
Rate: 5++++ stars.
Profile Image for Neet.
75 reviews21 followers
November 7, 2010
I tend to judge books by their covers, so I understand why my sister might have bought this; but I assure you that the cover art is the only redeeming quality about this book. I thought others would agree with me but after reading a handful of reviews claiming this book is a ‘must read,’ I realized some people in this world have no compunction in telling ridiculous falsehoods.
This book was full of badly written clichés and the ‘playful banter’ between the characters seemed forced and awkward. There was nothing original that stood out and to be honest I couldn’t get past some of the Spanish words/phrases the author used. Mamacita?! Seriously? I felt embarrassed for the character. It was like the author was trying too hard to connect the character to a stereotype. Dude, we get it. He’s the Mexican bad-boy from the wrong side of the tracks, who has a tough exterior but inside he’s all soft and gushy. And of course, there’s the girl with the rocking bod who seems to have a perfect life, but really it sucks to be her. How will these polar opposites ever reconcile their differences and fall in love? Will society allow them to be together? I don’t see how that can be because apparently it’s earth shattering for a rich white girl to be with a delinquent. [Insert Sarcasm]
I’ve never actually rated a book before, so am I supposed to use stars? Well, what’s the opposite of a star? Dark matter? A black hole? Well this book gets 2 black holes. Cheers!
Profile Image for Megs ♥.
160 reviews1,284 followers
January 22, 2012
I adored this book. This is the classic love story with a fresh new feel.

Hmm let's see...Certain parts cliche, certain parts stereotypical, certain parts predictable, but I was still able to enjoy this book for what it was: romantic and sweet.

Alex is a gang member, who doesn't want to be and Brittany is a cheerleader. When they first meet they don't hit it off. They think they know everything there is to know about one another just by what they see or may have heard. In time, they fall for each other, and find out that they are each hiding some dark and painful secrets.

Elkeles breathes new life into an old tale, and the writing is done in multiple POV, showing both Alex and Brittany's point of view, keeping Perfect Chemistry evenly paced. What I loved about the most is that this book could make you feel good while reading, but at the same time it would make you feel sad about the life Alex is trying to get out of, and feel sorry for Brittany's sister. These two both have so much going on in the background of their lives, yet they can give themselves completely to each other. There is also some great drama, gritty dialog and a couple of twists along the way to keep you excited.

This little love story will warm your heart, and make you long for the days of first loves, when you could look into someone's eyes and although they have flaws you see them as simply perfect. Even though Alex and Brittany's relationship does move at a fast pace, their thoughts, insecurities, hang-ups, and urges all ring true and are easy for nearly any teen to identify with.

Recommended to all romance lovers. I don't read too much romance, but this book intrigued me, and I'm glad I gave it a shot. There are two other parts to this series, and I'm sure I will read them both eventually when I'm in the mood for more romance.

Profile Image for • Jodi Bibliophile •.
311 reviews1,094 followers
July 31, 2016
 photo 1469994453955_zpsaa7f2hvm.jpg

My heart is so full right now <3

I've just finished Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles and I simply don't have the right words to express my feelings towards this beautiful story.

"Two different worlds. One true love."

Ok, now I want to cry :, (

Omg I just fucking loved it!! Every single fucking thing about this masterpiece.

The story just flowed and the writing was fucking flawless!

I laughed, I cried, I swooned, I wanted to kick Brits mum in the muff gate - seriously I wouldn't piss on that woman if she was on fire!

Alex + Brittany <3

Two completely different souls from different worlds brought together for a chemistry project and with that came banter and so much sexual tension but best of all; LOVE <3

I adored the charaters. The way Brittany was to her sister Shelley warmed my heart. The way Alex protected his family made me love him even more.

I can't believe it took me this long to pick this book up as I now can't imagine my life without it.

A love story I will never forget <3
Profile Image for Elena R a.k.a. Lunies R.
120 reviews105 followers
October 18, 2010
Outstanding! It's been a while since I enjoyed a really good ya-novel. Perfect Chemistry, captivated my mind from beginning to end.

The characters Alex Fuentes and Brittany Ellis both had issues they had to deal with that makes the plot of the story so surreal.Alex is a gang member,with absolutely no intentions on going to college and doing anything meaningful with his life, that's the story of what people on the south side part of town believe.Brittany is the rich girl trying to keep up with the little Ms.Perfect facade.Appearances and reputation means everything for people on the north side of town. They're both seniors at the same High School and hate each others guts!But when they're forced to become chemistry partners everything changes. This book brought out the issues of looking beneath the surface when judging a person.It was a well written story.I enjoyed reading every moment of it.

Interview with Simone Elkeles S,E,R's Awesomness!

Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
March 23, 2010
I've sworn to stop reading YA romance a million of times before. Just like adult bodice-rippers, I find the genre too formulaic and predictable. Unfortunately, "Perfect Chemistry" is no exception.

There is really nothing wrong with this book except for its utter unoriginality. This is a story that we all have read before - a rich, popular and beautiful cheerleader and dangerous (but hot) gang member are thrown in together by fate, or, more specifically, a chemistry lab seating chart (I am coming to a conclusion that this is how 99% of high school couples find each other, based on YA literature I've read). The guy makes a bet to get into the virginal cheerleader's pants, and sparks start to fly. Well, you can predict the rest as well as I did.

"Perfect Chemistry" however is not as bad as I might have made it out to be, hence my 3-star rating. It is an extremely engaging and fast read (about 3 hours for me), not overly cute and sweet or dumb as some romances I've read in the past, but not really special either. It doesn't take you anywhere new emotionally or creatively, it is not grounded in reality and relies heavily on physical attraction. The book is just OK, a decent read which I suspect fans of YA romance will enjoy much more than I did.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,449 reviews7,558 followers
June 27, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

This popped up on the “recommended you to” screen when I logged in to my library’s website. It threw me off a bit because I’ve been requesting “book clubbier” books lately so I had to check it out. And what did I find???????? A story about a girl from the right side of the tracks and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks and how they fall in luuuuuuurrrrrrrrv. Well, that trope just makes me . . . .

Allow me to introduce our main characters. First up, the leading male . . .

“This is Alejandro Fuentes. When he wasn’t hanging out on street corners and harassing innocent people this summer, he toured the inside of jails around the city, if you know what I mean.”

And now, the leading lady . . . .

“This is Brittany Ellis. This summer she went to the mall, bought new clothes so she could expand her wardrobe, and spent her daddy’s money on plastic surgery to enhance her, ahem, assets.”

So basically we’re talking about . . .

And . . . .

There’s also a supporting cast of friends that are sometimes fairly hilarious . . . .

“You're like Danny Zuko in Grease. You smoke, you're in a gang, and you've dated the hottest bad girls around. Brittany is like Sandy . . . a Sandy who'll never show up to school in a black leather jacket with a ciggie hangin' from her mouth. Give up the fantasy.”

As well as a privileged white boy boyfriend, but he’s all . . .

Ewwwww. Pretend he doesn’t exist.

Alright, so Brittany and “Alex” get paired up together in Chemistry because ‘Murica is full of first world problems like not getting to pick a partner and being stuck with the person closest to you alphabetically instead. Y’all know what happens next – or eventually . . . . .

I give zero poops that this story has been done eleventy trillion times before. I will read it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It never gets tired for me and I love the “lesson” (if you can use that term when discussing a New Adult story) that is always learned . . . .

If you have a teenie bopper who is interested in delving into the world of romance but you’re terrified he/she is going to go the 50 Shades route, this is a good option. There is one sex, but it’s fade to black style with no deets.

I’m giving this one 3.5, but rounding down because (1) the bet with friends about getting in Brittany’s pants storyline was absolutely unnecessary and cheapened things just so there could be some manufactured drama and (2) if you use Chicago as a setting you need to know North Side and South Side are like opposite ends of the universe so the characters wouldn’t ever meet at school (picky, I know, but I’m allowed since it’s my review space).
Profile Image for Lindsay.
234 reviews121 followers
April 11, 2011
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Soooo corny! But I LOVE it! Jeez, reading has made me soft...

I remember when I saw this book in the book store months ago, my friend told me not to get it because she said she could tell it would be bad. I questioningly looked at her and asked her why - because she said she had never read the book - and she tells me her Book Cover Theory. That you can tell whether a book will be good or bad by the cover it has. So even though I thought what she was saying was dumb, I didn't buy the book, bumped it WAY up on my to read list, and started literally judging almost all books I would pick before reading by their covers. Now, how many of YOU do this? Honestly? Thankfully, if another friend of mine hadn't told me to get this book then I would have seriously lost out.

Thank God I came to my senses and I now know better than to judge books by their covers because hey, there are plenty of amazing books out there with terrible covers and there are some gorgeous covers with bad writing. But this cover is sexy and has amazing writing! Simone Elkeles has done such an amazing job on this book.

Seriously, I love this teen romance novel. I will admit, I have never been a sucker for teen romances and a lot of them just make me roll my eyes and ask why? Especially when it comes to Romeo and Juliet type star crossed lovers junk. I think its dumb, overused and unrealistic. But still, there was just something really special about this book, something that made me stop at the end and just say to myself "Wow. Completely unexpected."

What I really love about the book is that Simone doesn't spend a whole half of the book describing the setting or small stuff. She just gets down to the major things going on, which I can appreciate because sometimes, authors tend to get a little lengthy with all the descriptions that either confuse me or make my head spin.

Now the characters were amazing. Seriously!!! I have NEVER had a writer make me fall in love with ALL of the main characters and not find any reason to hate them. Sure there were some annoying parts but that's necessary in a book. And their personalities were just fantastic.

I have to say, I can personally relate to Brittany. Seriously, I have nothing against this chick. Not about the popular thing, but the fact that she puts up an act for people, how hard it is to be perfect, and the sibling with a mental problem since my brother has Asperger's Syndrome. All of the fears she had for her sister Shelley were ones I could relate to myself and out of all the books I read this year, this YA female character is my favorite hands down.

And Alex....sweet Jesus that sexy Mexican is mine! I will fight everyone for him cause he is just so damn fine! Honestly, he is officially on my Top Sexiest Guys I Would Like To Fuc Rape And Keep In My Closet Forever List and I only have eight other guys on that list out of the 293 books I've read so far. So that's a record. Alex is the ideal guy, he has things he wants to do for himself but he won't because he'll go to any extreme to protect his family. And the fact that he let himself be with Brittany because he knew he wanted her was sexy!

Paco...oh dear sweet Paco, my love, he was the perfect best friend. One of those once in a lifetime people you would take the bullet for no matter what...and I loved Shelley too. And Sierra because she proved - and outright surprised - me by showing how much of a best friend she was to Brittany and not turning out to be a mindless she witch like Darlene.

There were only a few things I had a problem with but nothing major. Although Alex and Brittany are so realistic and have such amazing personalities and qualities and all that, I had a hard time with their feelings at first. Don't get me wrong, I totally loved the love-hate relationship they had going on but I would have liked their relationship to build more gradually. It was a little to fast for me. And the fact that who killed Alex's father was also a little predictable. I would have liked a little bit more mystery but I'm otherwise okay with the book.

Overall, I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOOVE this book. I am currently reading the sequel Rules of Attraction, featuring Alex's brother Carlos - whose a winy little brat, a sexy brat whose more like Alex in more ways than one, but a brat nonetheless - and his new interest. I have got to say, I love this series sooo much and I absolutely cannot wait for the final book Chain Reaction with the world's sexiest cover featuring the younger innocent adorable brother Luis!

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

P.S. This is in fact the longest review I have ever written up to date. Woo hoo! Miracles do happen!
Profile Image for Christy.
3,818 reviews32.4k followers
December 27, 2012
"You were the one girl who made me risk everything for a future worth havin'."

I LOVED Perfect Chemistry! Such a great story! It was really well written and the characters were so lovable and wonderful!

Brittany and Alejandro (Alex) both live in Fairfield Illinois and are both starting their senior year at Fairfield High. Brittany has the perfect life. She lives in the perfect house with both parents and her sister. She has the perfect blonde hair and blue eyes, wears designer clothes, and is head cheerleader dating a football player. But if people saw how her life was, they would see its far from perfect. With a mother who criticizes everything, an absent father, a boyfriend pressuring her and a sister with cerebral palsy who Britt helps take care of, things aren't as perfect for her as they seem.
"We're actors in our lives, pretending to be who we want people to think we are."
Alex is from the wrong side of the tracks. He is the badass Mexican gang member at school. He's got the tattoo's, bad boy looks and the other students fear him. In reality, Alex has a mother and two younger brothers he works hard to protect. He has been the man of the house since his father was murdered when Alex was 6. He is a very intelligent guy, but no one sees the real Alex.
In senior chemistry, these two get paired up alphabetically by their no nonsense teacher Mrs. P. she won't even consider switching them. At first, Brittany and Alex can't stand each other. They go back and forth with their words, their pranks, and a ton of sexual tension before they realize they actually like each other. They are not as different from each other as they first thought. Of course, they fall for each other... But can they overcome the obstacles of their lives, families, friends and everything else that's stacked against them? Will their love be able to conquer all? Or are some things to big to overcome...

Loved loved loved this book!!!

Alex- I freaking loved him! He was hot and sexy- but also kind and loyal. He was a good man in a bad situation. He had a tough life, but he tried to make the best of it and made hard decisions based on what was best for those he loved.

Brittany was real and relatable. I mean, who hasn't tried to put up the perfect front when everything is falling apart? She was a sweet and caring girl, but I loved when she came out of her shell and didn't let anyone walk all over her!

Sierra, Isabel and Paci were such lovable supporting characters. The double pov's made the story even better!

Overall, Alex and Brittany's story was beautiful! I absolutely loved the ending! Looking forward to the next one, I hope to get a lot more Alex in Carlos's story ;-)
Profile Image for Michelle Rebar.
293 reviews35 followers
February 21, 2009
This book was amazing. If it doesn't melt your heart, then my guess is that you don't have one. This is a gritty, intense love story that will leave you swooning the entire time you read it. I stayed up until 5 am to finish it because I couldn't sleep until I found out how it ended. Romeo + Juliet have NOTHING on Alejandro + Brittney.
Profile Image for Vinaya.
185 reviews2,077 followers
March 12, 2011
A rich white girl from a messed-up family falls in love with a poor Mexican boy from the wrong side of the tracks. When I read the blurb for Perfect Chemistry, I thought, hmmm... haven't I already watched this movie?

In fact, I have not. This book is nothing like the over-emotional mess that was Crazy/Beautiful, and I might have to shoot people for comparing the two and making me hesitate over picking this book up. Before I start to gush, some disclosures: This book is a romance. Flat-out, no holds-barred romance. No vampires, no werewolves, nothing but two teenagers finding true love. This book is a teen romance. It has convenient lab-partner arrangements to facilitate plot development, a pretty cheerleader and a hot gangbanger, a bet involving getting the gangbanger into the cheerleader's pants and a messed-up family life for the star-crossed couple.

But despite the nightmares the above disclosures may conjure up, I would suggest you still give Perfect Chemistry a chance. It's a beautifully-written book with very likeable protagonists. More importantly, Simone Elkeles picks up a bunch of uncomfortable topics that have the potential for disaster, and weaves them seamlessly into a hard-hitting story.

Brittany Ellis is one of the school's most popular girls. On the surface, she has it all - good looks, money, a perfect boyfriend and a perfect life. She works very hard to maintain the illusion that everything is exactly as it seems, but the strain of trying to be Miss Perfect is wearing on her. Enter Alex Fuentes. He's from the poor side of town and runs with a gang called Latino Blood. He's smart, but he knows that he hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of getting out of his 'hood and into a college. His only aim is to protect his family and ensure that his two younger brothers get the choices he's never had. When the two of them are assigned to be lab partners in Chemistry at the beginning of senior year, sparks begin to fly.

At first, they have nothing but contempt for each other; then Alex makes a stupid bet with his friends that he will get into Brittany's pants in two months, and once he begins to pursue her, he begins to fall for her. In the meantime, Brittany's 'perfect' boyfriend is pushing for sex, and refusing to communicate; as she grows further away from Colin, she gets closer to Alex.

This book makes no attempt to soft-soap the life of a gang member. Alex carries a gun, threatens and sometimes assaults people who refuse to pay their debts to a gang, smokes marijuana and is quick with his fists. But under his tough boy persona, he is seething with frustration at a life that seems to give him no choices. He's also smart-as-hell and has a very soft spot for Brittany.

I LOVED the way the romance developed in this story. Their slow transition from hostility to a deeper understanding and eventually, to love was beautifully played out. I thought both their voices (the book is narrated in alternate first person) were authentic. I really liked the fact that I could get Alex's perspective on the developing romance as well as Brittany's.

I also admire Elkeles for taking this relationship to its natural conclusion. She handles the lovemaking scene with great delicacy, and doesn't wimp out and finish it all up in one line. I like the fact that the sex was painful and uncomfortable; not all of us can be like those paperback romance heroines who lose their hymen with minimal pain and maximum ecstasy.

Be warned, the ending is not all sunshine and flowers. Getting out of a gang is not easy, and Elkeles has the cojones (I don't even know what that means!) to ensure that her characters do not escape without a few scars, literal and metaphorical. The only thing I really objected to was the epilogue, which gave the romantic part of me a gooey feeling but left the saner parts of my brain thinking mush overload! mush overload!

All in all, a truly heart-warming love story, and one I would recommend to all fans of contemporary teen romance. Read it!
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
January 13, 2012
2.5 stars

I know that we are young,
And I know that you may love me,
But I just can’t be with you like this anymore,

Dear Perfect Chemistry,

It was fun while it lasted. Tempestuous, occasionally hilarious, but fun. However, at the end of the day, I think you and I just want different things. We’re not right for each other. And I need to move on.

I’ve been known to make a song, dance and general fool out of myself over my love for contemporary YA novels – but I can’t muster that kind of enthusiasm for you, Perfect Chemistry. Your subject matter and the execution didn’t really resonate with me, and the hackneyed “perfect girl” and “boy from the wrong side of the tracks” falling for each other plot just felt too formulaic. I’ve seen it before and frankly, (sorry if this hurts your feelings) I’ve seen it done better.

It wasn’t all bad. I can see your appeal – I even fell for it briefly. You got me through a rough time, when I was housebound with the flu and verging on full tilt cabin fever. You were a welcome distraction, building the *ahem* chemistry (yes! Puns!) between the leads nicely, and the tension was addictive.

So I’ll admit it, I was entertained. I liked Alejandro and Brittany well enough, and was especially pleased with Brittany’s development and the fact there was some depth and substance to her character. I had a tougher time with Alex’s bandanas, but hey that’s my issue, not yours.

Unfortunately, I simply couldn’t take you seriously. The clichés were so.. cliché. The drama was so.. over the top and predictable. It just wasn’t really my style.

Also, it’s probably just better that we just don’t speak about the epilogue.

I’m sorry. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s over.

Yours honestly,

* * * * *

Pre-Review: I don't think I was supposed to laugh as much as I did while I read this. Except for the Epilogue, because that was a joke... right? Right?
Profile Image for Rhonda.
222 reviews61 followers
November 3, 2010
I AM FLOORED that I enjoyed this YA Romance as much as I did! I found myself unable to resist turning the pages.

I’m not going to go into the plot much because it’s already been done beautifully!
This is a classic story of girl meets boy, from the wrong side of the tracks, but with a gangsta lean.
What starts out as a bet between Alex and one of his friends, involving Brittany turns into undeniable love. As these two lose their hearts to each other they find there is much more they have in common than what divides them. They are not only separated by social and economic status, but also have the racial barriers to overcome with their family and peers. These two discover so much about each other and themselves in the process.

I found the characters to be very likable, not only Alex and Brittany, but their best friends Paco (love Paco, sniff, sniff) and Sierra as well. In most YA books the best friend tends to be a little annoying., but not here. Paco provides some comic relief at times, and Sierra is wise beyond her years, and proves to be the best friend Brittany needs her to be!!

And Alex Fuentes….*sigh*… They didn’t make them like that when I was in High School!!! ( Just Sayin’)

Thanks to all my GR friends that recommended or encouraged me to read this!!
Elena, XTRA thanks to you, you know why!!!
Profile Image for Syndi.
2,902 reviews635 followers
October 2, 2020
My first read by Miss Elkeles. I like this book OK. The moral topic not to judge by the cover is thick through out the book.

What I want to see more is the connection between Alex and Brittney. Their banter and their conversation is stiff and forced. I feel Brittney is very child like. Demanding, needy and crying a lot.

I want to understand more of Alex. What is his attraction toward Brittney? What is his consideration to join the gang? Etc....

Overall this is an OK book. I will pick the next book.

3 stars
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