Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rules of Attraction

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles 2010 ARC
#2 in Perfect Chemistry Trilogy

Release Date: Today!

Rating: 4/5

IQ "When he does, she [Mildred] closes her eyes and reaches out to touch his face, this time more slowly, almost tracing it with her fingers. Carlos is still, letting her fantasize about going back to a happier time and pretend for the moment that she's touching her husband's face instead of Carlos's. {...} Carlos nods in silent understanding at the gift he just gave her." pg. 167

The IQ is from one of my favorite scenes. For those of you who've read, it's the scene in the retirement home, where Kiara helps out. So cute. We start to learn more about the characters and they learn more about each other.

Rules of Attraction properly introduces Carlos, Alex's younger brother from Perfect Chemistry. You don't need to have read Perfect Chemistry (though it's my favorite and I highly recommend you read it) to follow Rules of Attraction. We met Carlos when he was in middle school, now he's sixteen. Carlos Fuentes does not want to reform, he enjoys being a rebel and wants to spend his life living on the edge. Carlos' mom is worried about him so she sends him to Colorado to live with Alex. However, Carlos' ties to a Mexican gang make him a valuable asset to a drug lord who sets him up. Alex realizes he can't control Carlos so he sends him to live with his former professor and his family. The daughter of the former professor, Kiara, is different from all the other girls, Carlos has ever met. Carlos can't fully escape the danger around him and Kiara can't help him if he won't let her. "he's shocked to discover that it's this seemingly All-American family who can save him." (last line from ARC back cover)

My one and only problem with Rules of Attraction is that it's too similar to Perfect Chemistry for my tastes. I was really hoping that it would be different. After only one book, I'm tired of the star-crossed lovers being a white girl and a Mexican guy. I'm tired of the Mexican guy being all tough and the white girl being all naive and caring and still fitting into a stereotype. It's going to be a trilogy, since there are three Fuentes brothers. I hope Luis (the youngest) falls in love with someone different. A girl who is not white, or who is overweight, or disabled or not a virgin. Something different. With gender role reversals. Kiara doesn't see herself as skinny, but she didn't sound curvy or overweight either. She seemed to be more on the athletic side (she's a runner! And Carlos describes her body as "to kill for"). I'm ready for Luis to be the sweet, caring guy and for the girl to be unwilling to be loved. I may be tired of all this because I'm not really a romance fan. A minor thing, that I'm sure will be fixed, is some grammatical errors in Spanish. For example Carlos tells his brother, Alex "usted es estupido". It should be tu (with an accent). Tu means you, usted means you, but it's formal. You wouldn't use usted with your older brother. I haven't read a finished copy so the errors may have been caught. Or I could be wrong, usted is very confusing.

What I did like about Rules of Attraction was that there was less action, which I wasn't sure I would like at first, but it gave the readers a better chance to really get to know the characters. Carlos, Kiara, Mr. Westford (Kiara's dad), Brandon (Kiara's cute little brother), Tuck (Kiara's gay best friend) and others. The minor characters are more than stock figures and once again, Simone Elkeles has captured the voices of teenagers. I loved almost all the characters. Even though Kiara is the stereotypical slender and smart, she is different from other girls because she loves cars. She drives a vintage car and loves working on it to fix it up. Also she has a stutter and I sympathized with her as she struggled to deal with that. I'm not really a fan of bad boys, so Carlos' behavior made me laugh, but I also wanted him to be nicer! However, I wouldn't want him to change. I also enjoyed reading about Alex and Brittany. They make re-appearances that don't overshadow the main characters, but they don't fade into the background either. The story moves quickly and the romance is definitely one of the best parts.

Rules of Attraction avoids being the same ol' star-crossed lovers story by having realistic characters, some action in the plot and a sweet/hot romance :) I don't think a sequel to Perfect Chemistry was necessary (I feel like this review is repetitive), and neither was the epilogue. The ending is rather clear on its own. This is my 2nd book by Simone Elkeles and I really admire how well she's done in writing about Mexican culture and language, along with gangs and life in high school. I found all those aspects to be authentic and she writes some really great romance scenes as well! (The cover is awesome). High school and up (some mature sexual situations, nothing you wouldn't see in high school).

Disclosure: Received from Lyn to review for the Multicultural Review (MCR).



  1. Have you seen some of the book trailers Elkeles has put together for her books? They're very fun.

  2. Excellent review! I just finished and enjoyed Perfect Chemistry and was curious about the sequel. I like the 3 brothers plan, but not a repeat formula. I agree that the best parts of the first book were about Mexican culture. As for checking Spanish as a writer, I asked a Puerto Rican blog reader to check the dialogue of a Puerto Rican character in the novel I wrote (not published yet.) Authors can always ask for help from their community.

  3. Great idea for the third book, Ari. Maybe the author will take you up on it. I'm sorry this one wasn't as compelling, but if you have a formula as successful as Perfect Chemistry, you should probably run with it.

    I thought some of the Spanish was a bit formal and literal in Perfect Chemistry too but it didn't interfere with the enjoyment of the story. And if you're not a member of the culture, it's a good idea to check with a member of the community (and preferably more than one), not just for accuracy of details but also authentic representations of characters, feelings, and actions. You want to go beyond stereotypes, a point the author consciously addressed in Perfect Chemistry.

  4. @MissJulie-They are so funny/fun/cute! Thanks for reminding me, I'm going to link to the Rules of Attraction trailer

    @Sarah-Glad you enjoyed Perfect Chemistry, I think it's better than Rules since it's the original :) I don't mind the 3 brothers part either, one would have been ok, but she certainely can't stop at 2! True and I'm sure that Ms. Elkeles did, since her dialogue is good for the most part, it's probably fixed in the finished copy.

    @Lyn-This formula definitely works, and the author does go above and beyond stereotypes which is what makes these books so great (along with the romance and Mexican culture). I think she has the talent and the teen voice down where she could make a really interesting love story, between not just people of two different ethnic backgrounds, but who are disabled, overweight, of color, etc. I still really enjoyed Rules of Attraction and I'm looking forward to Luis' story =)

  5. Thanks for the review-I enjoyed PC despite the very cheesy epilogue, LOL! Glad to hear about the good characterization.

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