Fangirl Musings's Reviews > Perfect Chemistry

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
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's review
May 30, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: classified-series-starters, genre-romance-contemporary, genre-young-adult, trope-angst-ridden, trope-at-odds-couple, trope-challange-bet-or-deal, trope-fairy-tale-retelling, trope-forbidden-love, trope-hero-across-the-tracks, trope-hero-alpha, trope-hero-beta, trope-hero-antihero, trope-hero-ethnic, trope-hero-fallen, trope-hero-financial-hardship, trope-hero-misfit, trope-hero-tortured, trope-hero-villian-to-not, trope-hero-working-class, trope-heroine-alpha, trope-heroine-prim-and-proper, trope-hilarity-within, trope-jealousy-runs-amok, trope-perfect-banter, trope-rags-to-riches-vice-versa, trope-shhh-its-a-secret, trope-threes-company-or-more, trope-big-misunderstanding, trope-enemies-to-lovers, trope-hero-in-deception, trope-hero-in-pursuit, trope-hero-rogue-or-rake, trope-hero-scorned, trope-heroine-genius-or-cerebral, trope-hero-genius-or-cerebral, trope-heroine-hoyden-or-spirited, trope-heroine-in-deception, trope-heroine-tortured, trope-mystery-within, trope-not-your-usual-conflict, trope-siblings-or-family-within, classified-split-or-first-pov, classified-five-stars
Recommended to Fangirl Musings by: Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog)
Recommended for: Star crossed lovers fans
Read from August 12 to 16, 2012

This book had me terrified, because the opening praise for Perfect Chemistry utilized a quote by Chasing Heroes, comparing this book to Twilight, in a positive light. Thank GOD they were wrong!

I never thought I’d say these words; I read a YA first person, and I liked it!

Ironically, neither statement is in and of itself unusual, since there exist modifiers to each. Firstly, I’ve read Young Adult one other time (Sherrilyn Kenyon’s CON series). However, this is the very first time I’ve read a YA that was independent of my favorite author. Additionally, I’m still adamant in my hatred of a strict first person novel. Thank the literary gods that Perfect Chemistry was written in split-first person. Not only was this my first experience with reading first person, and enjoying it, but likewise it was my first experience with split FP.

This book, frankly, blew my ever lovin’ mind. One of my biggest problems with YA is the fact that, from what I’ve witnessed, experienced, and heard, most come off as being mediocre drama. At best they seem to be the literary equivalent of reality television, and at worst they’re hum-drum with one dimensional everything. This was so, so not the case for Perfect Chemistry. Here is a book that encapsulates the very definition of quality.

One of my favorite aspects to this novel is the realistic emotion, and genuine humanism evident in the characters, as well as their reactions to life. From hearsay, I’ve always understood most YAs to utilize not just one dimensional characters, but clichés and caricatures as their protagonists. Elkeles does an amazing job of taking two, very easily written-off high school stereotypes, the Rich Good Girl and the Bad Boy, and turning them completely on their heads. Both Brittney and Alex were multifaceted with believable motivations and realistic dynamics. To say that I liked these two characters, their faults and qualities included, would be a massive understatement.

In the arena of characters, I too must say that Elkeles hit a field goal, slam-dunk, goalie, and any other potential sports metaphor, in regards to the emotion that was brought on-page. Almost from the opening sequence I knew that I was delving into a world that would be unique in its own right. I did not, however, expect said uniqueness to translate into heart wrenching emotion and real-world consequences and wonderful storytelling. Hot damn if I wasn’t pleasantly, surprisingly shocked to find out otherwise.

The plot of Perfect Chemistry was unique, too. This is not to say that the storyline within said novel hasn’t been done before; it has, most assuredly. Rather, the fact the hero and heroine were so lifelike, so well written allowed me to forget I was reading a tried-and-true story type. So engrossed was I to the events, actions, and thoughts of Brittney and Alex that I transcended that fine line between story and reader. I was Brittney, I was Alex. This could be attributed to the split first-person aspect of the novel, but I insist it results from the sheer excellence Elkeles maintained in her writing.

I think, truly, what made this book so amazing was the fact that, while obviously never forgetting its reality as a romance, the story wasn’t afraid to venture off into different realities and real-world issues. Social class, poverty, affluence, stigmas, peer pressure, betrayal, violence, body image, drug use, identity crises, abuse, sex, the pressure to succeed, disabilities, culture, isolation, love, disillusionment, misunderstanding, education, prejudice, friendship, death, judgment, guilt, respect, fear…the list of topics dealt and addressed by this novel is seemingly endless. And yet, despite all the subjects noted, holding the pieces together are just two characters, and their perspectives. Of all the aspects that I love in regards to this book, and there are many, the one that still awes me is Elkeles bravery in going to places few YA authors do, and yet still manage to maintain humor and occasional levity when appropriate.

Another wonderful element to this book comes its pacing, as well as its climax and subsequent conclusion. Throughout the entire story, at no point did I ever think, “Okay, already, c’mon with it.” Every plot point succeeded in bringing about the next plot point, every scene was relevant and substantial to the characters, or the story. And, if that weren’t enough, the climax was intensely dramatic, and yet believable considering the subject matter.

Incidentally, I must give Elkeles excellent props, for despite briefly using the “high school girl lost her guy” trope, this was done in a realistic, and then admirable way, predominately following with the “get on with your life” message. While I’m a romance novel addict, I despise the “everything’s over for me without him” sentiment so popular nowadays. Lastly, the epilogue! How on EARTH could I read that wonderfully concise ending, and not leave the story with that wonderful Happy Book Feeling? To say I will be continuing with this author’s work is a statement of the obvious!

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Reading Progress

08/13/2012 page 112
31.0% "A YA, written in split first-person...and I'm loving it. The end of the world is surely nigh."
08/13/2012 page 112
31.0% "A YA, written in split first-person...and I'm loving it. The end of the world is surely nigh."
08/15/2012 page 248
69.0% "This book is seriously one awesome piece of literature!"

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