For What It's Worth

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry Novels)

Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.

Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

I adored Perfect Chemistry but I was a little disappointed in Rules of Attraction, so I honestly wasn't expecting much from Chain Reaction. I felt compelled to buy it though, despite my book buying ban. Such is the lure of a Simone Elkeles - Fuentes brother book.

I think this is going to be the weirdest review I'll ever write. I disliked almost everything about Chain Reaction and yet I still loved it. Loved. Whaaaa???? Yeah - I don't get it either, but there you have it.

We don't know much about Luis except for a few glimpses in the previous books from his brothers perspectives. We know he's smart and he's managed to stay out of the gangs and violence that his brothers had been unable to avoid. For some reason I was expecting a different twist when it came to Luis's story. Maybe he would be the good one and the girl would be the wild gang banger he saved….lol

Luis is a brash ladies man right out of the gate which kind of turned me off at first. None of it fit with what I thought I knew about Luis. After first meeting him the story skips ahead a few years and this was the Luis I liked. He's intelligent but still has that Fuentes brothers fire in the blood. Luis differs from his brothers in that he knows what he wants, when it comes to his future and when it comes to Nikki. That's one thing that I really liked about his personality. He didn't waffle a lot like Alex and Carlos.

I really liked Nikki; she's smart and level headed. She has trust issues after dating Marco who chose to join the gangs over her. They had a very traumatic break up. She sees Luis as yet another gang banger she can't trust so her mistrust and caution is well founded. She really grounded the story for me and gave me someone to relate too. She's strong yet vulnerable and doesn't take any crap from Luis. Perfect.

So here's the thing. Chain Reaction is almost a carbon copy of the first two books. Same chemistry teacher, same gang problems, another tempting, slutty girl straddling Luis while drunk. Why on earth do they keep going back to live in the same place where they keep getting sucked into the same gangs? Why doesn't anyone notice what's going on with Luis? Why doesn't Luis just get his brothers advice? Why is he hanging around with Marcos? His life was pretty perfect before they moved back to the old neighborhood. Elkeles writes a decent explanation but I just wasn't buying it after all the trouble Alex and Carlos went through. And I was frustrated that here I was reading almost the same story again. However, I loved Luis and Nikki together. They have amazing chemistry; it's off the charts hot. (And that's why they call it The Amazing Chemistry novels!) I just really liked both of them, so I went with the flow and enjoyed their story anyway. Simone knows how to write this stuff and can make me care even while I'm scratching me head in confusion.

We get our conclusions for all the brothers and their loves. Alex/Brittney & Carlos/Kiara. But wow - that felt forced. The Alex & Brittney wedding scene? Hmmmm. I can't really spoil it but that was really an issue for their own novella or something. We get our epic epilogue of epicness. Call me crazy but I love it. I like to know what everyone and their children is up to 10 years from now.

It was formulaic and cheesy at times but I adored Chain Reaction and read the whole thing in under a day. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the formula and I'll be right there buying whatever Simone Elkeles writes next.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Out of the series, Perfect Chemistry is still my favorite but Chain Reaction is a close second.

Find Simone: Elkeles: website, Facebook, Twitter
Buy the book! Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry Novels)
Walker Childrens August 16, 2011


  1. Good to hear you still liked it! I have a feeling this would be a bit "repetitive" since I thought Rules of Attraction was just Perfect Chemistry pt2, but I think I would still enjoy it. I just am a sucker for these cheesy love stories every once in a while, haha. And I do like Simone Elkeles' writing style! Can't wait to read it myself.

  2. I really need to read these books! I have heard so much about them and I am dying to get my hands on them!! Great Review!

  3. I've been looking forward to this one but if it's basically the same...I may wait for the paperback.

  4. Yep, this book induces bipolar feelings. It's very good, but also very bad. Frustrating! :-)

  5. I haven't started this series yet, despite hearing great things about it. I can understand how this one might seem a little more repetitive and unbelievable, but glad you still loved it! Will seriously have to read Perfect Chemistry soon. Brilliant review, thanks! :)

  6. I love how you hate/loved this book, lol. I loved Perfect Chemistry, but found Rules of Attraction to be just an okay read. It was too much like Perfect Chemistry and from what I read of your review, this might be the same.

  7. I have Perfect Chemistry on my shelf. Guess I need to give it a go. :)

  8. Hmm - so now I'm wondering. I've got Rules of Attraction - I'm thinking I really shouldn't start the series with that one and should start at the beginning.

  9. Nice review, didn't think much of it till I read this.

  10. Ha! I know what it is like to have a love/hate relationship with a book. If CR is a carbon copy as PC then I'd probably feel the same way. Why would they move back? Grrrrr.

    But boy do I love those Fuentes brothers, and the HOT trailers.

  11. Yeah, sometimes books have a guilty pleasure thing going on. You know that they have elements that are bad, but you enjoy them anyway.

  12. I've been looking forward to this book for so long! I'm glad you liked it despite that you didn't like it...errr.. ;) Can't wait to read it, and from your review I'm sure I'll feel the same way you did.