Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

In the sequel to Perfect Chemistry, the story shies away from Alex and Brittany, who have started college in Denver, and focuses on Alex's younger brother Carlos. Carlos is sent to live with Alex after getting into some trouble down in Mexico, and he makes it known that Denver is just not his scene. But when he gets to know Kiara, the shy granola girl from school, he starts to realize that maybe being surrounded by people with direction might not be such a bad thing.

When my friend gave me this to borrow, the first thing I thought when I looked at the book in my hand was, "Oohh THAT looks like fun! Maybe I should be doing more of that instead of sitting around typing book 'reviews.'" I think I feel a new summer goal coming on . . .

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the extent of my excitement over this book.

I think that if you substitute the name "Carlos" for the name "Alex" it would be the EXACT SAME STORY as Perfect Chemistry. Carlos is whinier than Alex I suppose, so there's one difference. He's certainly Troubled. He's got some baggage from events in the previous book, and likes to cover said Hurts with a dollop of sarcasm and a sprinkle of Bad-A Behavior. Gang activity? Check. Acceptance of A Crappy Life? Check. Spanglish Foul-mouthery? Check. Falling for the good girl after an initial strong dislike of her? Double check.

Enter Kiara Westford. She is shy and unpopular, probably as a result of wearing men's t-shirts and stuttering when she talks. Her interests are hiking (it is Denver after all), fixing up cars, volunteering at the old people home, and hanging out with her best friend Tuck. She is likeable enough, but not very interesting. For that reason alone her relationship with Carlos "Hot bod and a face that Angels weep over" Fuentas feels way too forced and much less realistic than Alex and Beauty Queen Brittany.

Rules of Attraction is fairly predictable since Elkeles uses the same formula as Perfect Chemistry, which goes something like this: Every other chapter is seen through the eyes of Carlos or Kiara. Both overly-angsty teens have A Trial to overcome; her a stuttering problem and he a Nihilistic Mindset and a quickly growing police record. Then, after some "witty" banter mixed with sexual tension, the Troubled Boy falls for the Good Girl despite loads of Misunderstandings and social stigmas (read: Forbiddenness). She hands him her virginity on a silver platter because "he's worth it," and Boy becomes a better person because of said Previously Misunderstood But Now Beloved Girl. There is a Miraculous Escape from the clutches of The Inescapable Gang, the Bad Guy gets his in the end, and they all Live Happily Ever After.

I've actually learned a lot of Life Lessons from these books so far. I decided to ditch my good-girl persona in favor of a more Closet-Girls Gone Wild kind of lifestyle, because that will get me a hot and loving husband in the end. And I'll do this under the roof of my parents' home, since Kiara did and her dad didn't care. In fact, I think I'll tell my dad to be more like Mr. Westford - you know, the type who lets known gang members live in his house, in the room right next to his teenage daughter. The type who tells them to just "be safe" about the shenanigans they'll get into late at night. Yeah I think my dad might go for that.

The highlight, nay - saving grace of the book is Tuck. Not only does he have some great one-liners, but also cons Carlos into playing ultimate frisbee on an all-male gay team.

2.5 stars for gang violence, teen drinking, drug use and sex, but still maintaining a compelling writing style.

Book source: Friend.


  1. This review was marvelous. 5 stars for wit and accurate describing of awful teenage literature.

    ps my cousin-in-law or whatever is a book agent. or literary agent. or something. anyway, she says the growing trend in teenage books is going to be sirens. and angels. or seraphim. or whatever those half-angel half-people are called. thoughts?

  2. I believe it. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance are still hot, but vampires and werewolves are getting old to most. Angels/fallen angels are a big thing already. "Hush, Hush" is the fallen angel "Twilight." I haven't read a siren book yet, though I don't catch on to things that fast.