Friday, January 11, 2013

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles 2011 (Perfect Chemistry trilogy #3)
Walker & Company/Bloomsbury Publishing

Rating: 2/5

IQ "If I touch him, I could lose my nerve and let him explain away" Nikki, pg. 225

This is the final book in the Perfect Chemistryy trilogy and my review is spoiler-free (not just for this book but also for the previous 2 books in the series). Luis is the youngest of the 3 Fuentes brothers and unlike Alex and Carlos he has lived a relatively gang-free life. Until he moves back to Fairfield, Illinois the suburb rife with Latino Blood gang members who want him to join and be a leader like his brother Alex used to be. Nikki Cruz is the girl who has captivated Luis, mostly because she won't talk to him or allow him to get close to her. She's suspicious of his Latino Blood associations, she refuses to date LB gang members. Luis doesn't know if he wants to join the LB or no and Nikki doesn't know what will happen if she allows Luis to get close to her

 I picked the quote I did not because its majorly inspiring but because I think it captures a key moment in relationships, when you know that the person you're with messed up but that you will forgive them as soon as they 'say the right things' and touch you or hold you a certain way. When really that person needs to forget about 'the right words' and be honest.

 Anyway, I love this series and this is the book I was most looking forward to it but it doesn't compare to the first book. Or the second. Its my least favorite in the trilogy and there are a lot of elements about it that I really didn't like. I hated the ending. Not the epilogue, the LB violent ending (and no I didn't not like it because of the violence but because of who ended the violence). I also hated the family revelation. I thought it was a cheap way of shocking the reader and took away some of the appeal of the series. Granted the brothers handled it sweetly but still, it was a completely unnecessary family surprise. Also there wasn't much time spent with the beginning stages of Nikki & Luis' relationship. I totally understand lust-at-first-sight but it didn't stay that way and I wish the author had shown us how they grew to be so close.

 I did appreciate the fact that this book is so much different from its predecessors, in ways both good and bad. On the positive end, it was nice to see the girl portrayed realistically as always but also fairly un-Saintlike. The book did maintain its steamy, well-written romance scenes for teens, which are its strong suit. Along with the well-written characters ranging from Nikki & Luis to even minor characters such as Marco, Officer Cesar Reyes and the strong plot and setting of the story. Both Nikki & Luis are extremely headstrong and sometimes this stubbornness causes them to make foolish, prideful decisions. And then they have to deal with the fallout. It does all clean up tidily in the end, but its process and watching the characters try to pick themselves back up and make up for their poor decisions is rewarding and realistic and always refreshing to see.

Chain Reaction had almost all the right elements of being a good story but ultimately for me, two big plot twists ruined the rest of the book. While Chain Reaction bordered on the ridiculous at certain points, I was glad to read about the  youngest Fuentes brother and the people in his life, including the fiery-but-not-in-a-stereotypical-way Nikki. I loved that Nikki felt out of place amongst Mexicans even though she's Mexican American, she expressed feelings I definitely emphasized with and recognized. I would still highly recommend this series, the books are fun, hot, a great representation of teenage life (especially in Chicagoland suburbs) and there's never a dull moment.

Disclosure: Received from Lyn. Thank you so much!