When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for the past year, he doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Colorado. When he meets Kiara Westford, a good girl totally unlike any of the girls he's usually drawn to, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she's too good for him. But will he put his pride aside when he realizes that being with Kiara might finally allow him to be his true self?
-Barnes & Noble
This week has been Perfect Chemistry week with the release of the third and final novel of the series, Chain Reaction. Unfortunately, up until hearing of Chain Reaction, I had no idea about the series. This novel made me intrigued and I thought I should read the others before moving forward. I picked up Rules of Attraction with pretty moderate expectations, and I wasn't necessarily disappointed. I wasn't very moved by it either. However, it hasn't stopped me from wanting to check out the other novels.
Simone Elkeles has done an awesome job of making the Fuentes name pretty much legendary in the YA Genre! Just the thought of them makes me a bit dreamy. I loved her infusion of the Mexican culture within the novel, as well as the reality of being affiliated with a gang. It's very few and far between that I read realistic YA fiction, and so this was pretty refreshing. Elkeles painted the relationship between bad boy, Carlos Fuentes, and sincere tomboy Kiara Westford pretty believably. She paints their awkward first moments and gradually develops their more serious moments in an interesting way, and I wanted to follow their journey. Elkeles has a great sense of flow and voice, creating a novel experience that is fast paced and easily understood.
However, I was partially turned off with the tone of the novel giving me the feel of an after-school special about the dangers of gang violence/drug abuse. There were moments in the novel when Carlos' 'bad boy' nature seemed a bit forced and unconvincing, but Elkeles makes up for this when he shows his more vulnerable sides to Kiara. Also their roles as bad boy/good girl sometimes fell into cliched models.
That being said, it does not stop me from wanting to read the other novels. Why? Because there were classic high school romantic moments in here that reminded me of the glory of first love. One thing I was surprised about was the intimate scenes. I had no idea that they would go as far as they did. I thought to myself, 'Wow, Ms. Elkeles, you sure this is marketed for YA readers?' However, none of these types of scenes are written in a trashy way.
The cover is completely beautiful and compliments a scene in the novel. How I would love to have a similar scene occur in real time! Stay tuned for my next Perfect Chemistry novel review!
I give Rules of Attraction 3 cups of Earl Gray and a tablespoon of sugar (half).