A Barbie-perfect rich girl falls for the poor Latino gangbanger across town.
I've never read a star-crossed lovers cliché that was more urban life sensitive and still believably YA. The fact that Alex Fuentes was in a gang and collected drug money debts should've made me dislike him. Then there was Brittany, the head cheerleader with problems. Poor little rich girl, right? I should've totally hated her, too.
But I didn't.
And here's why: Both main characters had redeeming qualities and both ran far deeper than their labels. People always want to put labels on characters, but in Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles gives her MCs dimension, real emotions, real flawed reactions, that make it hard to fit them inside a box.
I love how the whole catalyst for this story was the two MCs getting paired up for a chemistry project. So simple, and yet…J I liked how Elkeles made it more interesting by putting Brittany's jerk of a boyfriend one lab station over. Alex and Brittany both make mistakes, but that's what makes them more endearing. They both fight and deny their emotions, but to me, it makes them sound more like teenagers.
Brittany was made so much more likable by the presence of her sister, Shelley. From the first few pages, we find out that Shelley is mentally handicap and can't perform basic functions like feeding herself or speaking in full sentences. But Brittany loves her and has taken the time to learn her nonverbal cues. Brittany tries to maintain this perfect image for her parents just so they won't sent Shelley away--a threat that hangs over her head daily. I just loved the interaction between the sisters.
Alex has two younger brothers and a mother who refuses to call him anything besides Alejandro, his given name. The family dynamic was tight-knit, and yet they still had problems. Alex doesn't want his brothers to be like him. He's doing everything he can to protect his family in a place where you're either part of the gang or you're a target. His romance with Brittany provides them both with an escape.
The romance was on point. It developed at a good pace but wasn't a case of insta-love. I really enjoyed seeing these two characters break from their expected roles and finally accepting their attraction to each other.
And, personally, one of the things I liked best was: Fairfield High reminded me of Neptune High J Any other Veronica Mars fans in the house?? Alex totally reminded me of Weevil. *sigh* Eli "Weevil" Navarro was one of my favorite characters, riding on his motorcycle, running his biker gang, getting into trouble but having V's back the whole time. I miss Veronica Mars--but I seriously miss Weevil <3 <3 J
Perfect Chemistry has romance, drama, and little hints of the funny. Would definitely recommend this to anyone in the mood for a YA romance that takes the well-worn star-crossed lovers cliché and still manages to give the reader something fresh and exciting!