Friday, 15 February 2013
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Publication date: 23rd December 2008
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
I am slightly embarrassed to admit just how much I liked this book, but I really did. I read it because it seems to have divided opinions considerably on Goodreads and this made me curious.
I would say the plot is 'inspired' by the movie West Side Story (an adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet). Brittany Ellis is a beautiful and wealthy 'uptown' girl who is forced to team up with Alex Fuentes in Chemistry class. Alex is a typical bad boy - attractive-in-a-dangerous-kind-of-way - and a gang member from the rough part of town. As you can imagine Brittany and Alex don't get along. When Alex makes a bet with his friends that he can get Brittany to fall for and go out with him, he goes in with the intention of doing whatever it takes (no matter how cold and calculated) in order to win the bet. Needless to say he gets more than he bargains for and discovers there is more to Brittany than the obvious (and vice-versa).
For me Perfect Chemistry was a roller coaster of a read in the ‘I like it / not so much now’ sense. At times I was oohing and ahhing and at others I was cringing and wincing. On the downside, it is riddled with clichés and shameful stereotypes. On the upside its overall intentions are good and it is a sweet story.
This is essentially a romantic novel so one has to expect a certain amount of ‘sugariness’. For me, this is not the hot chocolate with 5 sugars and marshmallows on top sickly sweet, or the saccharin in your coffee artificial sweet, but just the right amount of sugar in your tea sweet. I thought the ‘adult’ language and content was brave and was used appropriately. (Not everyone will agree and no doubt it will ruffle a few feathers.)
I have a tendency to overlook the negatives of a book if the positives outweigh them and I would say this is the case with Perfect Chemistry. As novels go, it is fast food as opposed to your 5-a-day, which is perfectly fine - in moderation. It's a guilty pleasure.
My appeal to readers