Review: Perfect Chemistry

  • Author: Simone Elkeles
  • Series: Perfect Chemistry #1
  • Published: December 23, 2008
  • Publisher: Walker Children's
  • Reading Level: Ages 14 and up
  • Pages: 368 pages
  • Source: Bought
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.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

As this is a young adult novel, I should mention that this novel has drug references, alcohol references, cussing in two different languages, and sex.

Alejandro Fuentes is a gang member. He's part of the Latino Blood. The way he dress, the way he acts, and the tattoos adorning his body tell people to back off and leave him alone. After all, he was born on the wrong side of the tracks. Brittany Ellis was born on the right said of the tracks. She's head of the pom-squad and takes care of her elder sister who is disabled. She is obsessed with what others think of her and simply cannot mix with people from the wrong side of the tracks. Both teenagers attend Fairfield High School and both teenagers will have their world forever turned upside down when Mrs. Peterson forcibly pairs them as lab partners in her chemistry class. 

This novel is an original spin-off on the whole star-crossed lovers thing. At first, Brit and Alex can't stand each other, but as they get to know each other, they realize they aren't as different as they originally believed. The only thing working against them is that nobody wants gang members and the rich people on the other side of town mixing. Will it stop them from being together after all of those frustrating moments in Mrs. Peterson's chemistry class? Read the book to find out. ;)

I loved the characterization in this novel. Alejandro is struggling with his identity. He feels obligated to the Latino Blood to save his two little brothers, Carlos and Luis, and his mother. However, deep down inside, he doesn't want to be a gang member and despises everything that he is forced to do in relation to the LB. He's a good guy that was born on the wrong side of the tracks that loves to get under a certain white girl's skin. That girl is Brittany Ellis. Brit inherited her obsession of knowing what others think about her and outer appearance from her parents. Their relationship is non-existent and her mother worries more about what Brit has on her body than her sick older sister, Shelly, who is confined to a wheelchair and going through nannies as if they were candy in a desperate attempt to get her parents' attention. Last but not least, I want to say I love Paco. It is so rare that you meet a character that seems so genuinely amazing. He's the best friend that anyone would kill for--slightly goofy but willing to do anything to help you out. I wish I had a Paco of my own.

The romance in this novel will satisfy the inner-romance-lover of any reader. It's on and off, all over the place, and everywhere in between. Brit and Alex's journey to accepting each other is never a let down and is definitely worth reading. They love each other, but it seems the world--or everyone in Fairfield--is against them.

The epilogue will satisfy any cheesy-love story lover. It's one of those cute endings that make you squeal because it's so perfect and lovey-dovey. This format will set up the epilogues for the following novels in the series.

With all of that being said, I am giving this novel a 5. It;s a great start to a series and it's unique. Elkeles took the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet--the ultimate star crossed lovers--and put a unique, modern day twist to it. The plot is great. At times, it is predictable, at other times, you are completely floored by the masterpiece that Elkeles was able to weave. And at other times, you sit there wishing so badly that a certain Mexican gang-banger that always wore his infamous leather jacket could be the one to teach you how to drive.

A must read for any romance lover.

I'm not the biggest fan of having people on the cover of novels, but I like this cover more than others. It's simple, but it so clearly depicts Brit and Alex. I imagined Alex just as he is depicted on the cover, though Brit looked a bit different in my mind. The cover appeals to readers because of Alex's obvious good looks and it hints at the type of relationship that the reader will uncover within the pages of the novel. However, it's a bit embarrassing to read in public.

5 stars


  1. This is my new favorite series! I read all three in 36 hours. Incredible writing and the perfect mix of romance and action. I definitely appreciated the action parts. And Elkeles obviously did her research on gang life. I love the epilogues in each book. Still thinking about this series makes me squeal! I didn't have to read them in public...I was in my bedroom, so I didn't experience the embarrassing cover part. :)
    Great review!
    -Jenna @ Fans of Fiction

  2. Between all three books in the trilogy , i loved this the most.
    I really loved how the author portrayed alex, sometimes i feel like kissing him the other i feel like hugging him.
    its like he has a hard exterior because he is the biggest bother but he is actually a soft marshmallow inside .
    i agree with you for giving it 5 stars !!
    lovely review ~

  3. I've never read anything by this author, but everyone tells me I need to.