Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Way You Make Me Feel: Rules of Attraction

Forbidden love is hot, y'all.  I'm a sucker for a good Romeo and Juliet story.  You know what else I'm a sucker for?  A Beatrice and Benedick story (from Shakespeare's unparalleled Much Ado About Nothing): where the hero and heroine stop arguing just long enough to realize they're in looove.  Take R&J, add a healthy pinch of B&B, and you've got Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry, which I bought and subsequently devoured last year.  A fantastic YA novel that's got it all--love, lust, intrigue, and fightin'!--Perfect Chemistry chronicles the romance of Caucasian pom-pom girl Brittany and Latino roughneck Alex, reluctant class partners turned star-crossed lovers in the suburbs of Chicago.  I hearted this book: Elkeles wrote male and female perspectives equally well, and the relationship and character development were organic and achingly real.

So naturally, I was excited to hear that Elkeles was penning a Perfect Chemistry sequel, entitled Rules of Attraction.  And I scored an ARC, woohoo!

Coming out April 13, Rules of Attraction picks up two years after PC left off and is told from the perspective of Alex's younger brother Carlos.  Sent from Mexico to Boulder, where Alex and Brittany now attend college, Carlos is expected to turn his thug life around by living with Alex's former professor, Dr. Westford, who happens to have a lovely daughter, Kiara.  But even as Carlos and Kiara grow closer, Carlos' gangbanger past is catching up with him.  What's a reformed bad boy and a good gone girl to do?

There was a lot to like about this book.  Namely the two protagonists.  Even at his most asshole-ish, Carlos is eminently likable: he's got a snarky sensibility and a good heart.  Plus he has tattoos!  Totally swoonworthy.  And Kiara's fantastic: she's like the anti-Bella Swan.  Even though she's shy (as a recovering stutterer), she completely knows who she is--sporty and crazy about fixing cars--and is comfortable with it. So refreshing in YA lit to see a chick with a strong personality and sense of self.  Again, Elkeles does an admirable job telling the story from the alternating boy-girl perspectives: she gets into the mind of a troubled teenage boy and gives him a distinctive, interesting voice.  Also, it was fun to hang out with Alex and Brittany again: you can't help but root for those two crazy kids from the 'burbs.

That said: while I enjoyed Carlos and Kiara's relationship, I didn't quite believe it the way I believed Alex and Brittany's in the previous book.  It seems that Carlos and Kiara go from bitching at each other to making out in about two seconds--I know teenagers' feelings can turn on a dime, but even with that in mind there wasn't much evidence of the relationship growing.  Also, the subplot with Carlos and his illegal activities felt a bit tacked on.  I would have been content watching him change as an individual, or if his past had to become an issue, I feel it could have happened more naturally.  Sorry, I don't want to give too much away.  

Still, I'd recommend Rules of Attraction to readers young and old.  The characters are consistently convincing and will tug at your heartstrings, and the writing's stellar.  Although the book explains necessary plot info from Perfect Chemistry, you should read that one too.  Just . . . because.  You'll thank me.

And now, for the moment we've all been waiting for . . . ARMCHAIR CASTING DIRECTOR TIME! (Disclaimer for those new to the 'pro: I don't always choose super accurately in terms of age or era--just who I pictured while reading the book.)

Carlos: Jay Hernandez

If you've seen Crazy/Beautiful and Nothing Like the Holidays, you know this dude can play whip-smart, strong and nomalicious all in one line reading.  No one does reformed bad boy better.  Plus, he's got the expressive face that portrays light and dark moods equally well--essential for a character with the most troubled of pasts.

Kiara: Alison Brie

I heart Alison Brie so much: she can play a 1960's socialite wife and a rehabbed type A on my TV at the same time.  I also hate her because she gets to interact with Jon Hamm and Joel McHale on the regular.  Bitch.  Anyhoozle, Brie's the ultimate fresh face--I'd totally buy her as sweet but sassy tomboy Kiara.  Plus, I bet she could do a convincing stutter.

Dr. Westford: Liam Neeson

This guy wrote the book on "devoted dad who's also a badass."  Taken, anyone?  And who didn't love him in Love, Actually?  He encouraged his son to run through security for his lil crush, AND he got Claudia Schiffer in the end . . . don't tell me that's not badass.  Sure, he's a little older, but a lot of professor-types wait before having kids.  And he can use the Jedi Mind Trick.  You can't do better than that.

So I know that March was Awesome Authors Month, and (duh) it's not March anymore.  What happened is this: I scored a couple more reviews and ARC's, so the AAM fun is going to continue into April!  Cool, huh?

Anyhoozle, hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as I enjoyed Rules of Attraction.  To pre-order, click here.  To order Perfect Chemistry, click here.  And for more information about Simone Elkeles, click here for her website (which includes book trailers, music videos and info about her other fabulous books) . . . and stay tuned for an interview!

I love you too.  :)


  1. Cool review. Haven't read the first one but maybe I will now. Rules of Attraction does make me think of the Bret Easton Ellis book of the same name...homage?

  2. I was just browsing at Borders and passed over Perfect Chemistry. Had my hand on it and...didn't buy it. Now I'm annoyed at myself.

  3. I immediately thought of the Bret Easton Ellis one too, glad it wasn't though :P
    I loved Jay Hernandez in Crazy/Beautiful, thought he saved that movie! Great review, will have to check out both.

  4. Sadako--I kind of wondered that about the title too, but I don't think it's an homage.

    Everyone: YES, read both books. Start with Perfect Chemistry, and while you are reading listen to "O Valencia!" by the Decemberists, because it corresponds really well to the story.

    Also, if you like Elkeles' writing, you should also check out Leaving Paradise, which she wrote a few years ago. Also forbidden love, but with another, equally compelling plotline and interesting protagonists. She's doing a sequel to that one too.

  5. Oooooh. I was wondering whether or not to read Rules of Attraction. I keep hearing mixed things. I want to check it out now. Great review.

  6. I want to watch that movie at the cinema because I've heard people say it's really good, I like that movie because I can get different methods to attract the woman I want.m10m

  7. What I like about this movie is the protagonist because she's so sexy and beautiful, AND also the plot is really good, actually I'd like to watch it again.m10m

  8. Alison Brie is one oft the most sexy actress , I think that her high performance was in the role of Trudy Campbell in Mad Men, she looked so beautiful!