Release date: US 18th August 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA / Romance
Target audience: 12+
US Publisher: Walker
Chain Reaction is the third novel in Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry contemporary romance series.
Do not read this review if you haven’t read Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction. There will be spoilers galore! I will do my best not to give anything away for this book though. It may be a rather vague review but hey, I don’t want to ruin the experience for you.
Luis Fuentes is the youngest brother of the family and if you remember back to Alex’s story, you’ll also remember that at eleven he was the smartest. In the opening chapters of Chain Reaction he is fifteen and is a straight A student, champion swimmer and all round good boy or at least that’s what his family believe. Luis may be smart but he also he the characteristic recklessness of any Fuentes. He is an adrenalin junkie and when we meet him he rock climbing without the proper safety equipment. You know pride always comes before a fall, right?! But his life changes when his mother relocates them back to Fairfield, Chicago.
The story doesn’t stay with Luis at fifteen for long. It zooms zips forward a few years to the point where is his life has changed dramatically, he has returned to Chicago with his mum and it’s his senior year. Now any Perfect Chemistry book would not be complete without a sassy heroine. Meet Nikki Cruz – hardworking, beautiful, emotionally scarred American Mexican – who does not want to get involved with any guy. Nikki lives on the North side of Fairfield and has decided that any guy on the South side spells trouble. But when Luis and Nikki meet for the first time, it’s memorable to say the least. When they meet again, they can’t keep their eyes off each other.
Luis has his sights firmly set on college. Nikki has her sights firmly on keeping her heart intact. But then there’s the attraction between them and it drives them to distraction. Can Luis get Nikki to let down her guard and take on chance Mr Adrenalin? Oh and I forgot to mention that the Latino Blood gang have their sights on Luis and if they can’t get him, then they’ll settle for his blood.
I’m going to be honest here and say at times some of the choices Luis made with regards to the gang seemed a little out of character. I think that was the point Elkeles was trying to make. Any person who is living among such violence can be changed or influenced by it. But he had a choice and annoyingly for me, he kept making the stupid ones. He thought he was being clever. I thought he was being a nincompoop. So that was a minor irritation. Also the climactic scene lacked some of the edge that I know Elkeles can deliver so that was a little disappointment for me.
Otherwise I thought Chain Reaction was great. The romance between Luis and Nikki was entertaining, steamy and compelling. I want to know if there will be more books about the next generation of Fuentes. If there is, I’ll certainly be buying them. I just find the stories so page-turning. I am shameless romantic who will always hope for a happy ending.