27 August 2012

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Carlos Fuentes felt betrayed when the big brother he idolized, Alex, chose to get jumped out of the Latino Blood for a chance at a future with his gringa girlfriend, Brittany.  Even worse, Alex has forced Carlos to come back from mexico to join him on the straight and narrow path.  Trouble is, Carlos just wants to keep living on the edge.  And ties to his Mexican gang aren't easy to break, even when Carlos is living with one of Alex's college professors in Colorado.  Carlos feels completely out of place in the suburbs.  He's even more thrown by his feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the wild girls he's usually drawn to.  But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences and dangers that conspire to keep them apart.

Rules of Attraction was an incredible story with two cheer-worthy main characters bundled together with rib-cracking humor.  While this book wouldn't win any awards from me for writing style, Rules of Attraction was teeming with undeniable wit and a great story of romance.

Rules of Attraction is a rehashing of Perfect Chemistry It was set up the exact same way as the first only with a "new" situation: the plot progressed the exact same way and, since it dealt with a lot of the same characters, it made the similarities more recognizable.  My main problem was the climax.  This quote by Robert McKee put my issues with Rules of Attraction's plot exactly:
If [the climax] fails, the story fails... If you fail to make this poetic leap to a brilliant culminating climax, all previous scenes, characters, dialogue, and description become an elaborate typing exercise.*
Coupled with Simone Elkeles's a little too-simplisitic writing style and her tendency to tell and not show, the supposed "action scene" to cap off the book really fell flat and left me with the bitter taste of disappointment.

I cheered for the romance, though.  Despite how inevitable the progression of the characters' relationship was, the two of them made me smile and laugh and sigh with frustration.  Carlos and Kiara are definitely not a boring couple: their constant banter, their power plays, the give-and-take... It all culminated into a relationship to cheer for.  Also, I think Simone Elkeles did an excellent job in alternating between the two main characters.  (Quite a few scenes made me blush, though.  Maybe not an issue for readers who're seasoned in the more risque side of romance novels, but I'm still in denial over slowly losing the innocence of my childhood.)

I wouldn't pin any writing awards on the cover of this book.  While the style (mostly) worked to set a humorous and heart-breaking tone for the story, it wasn't as in depth as I would've preferred.  I was mostly drawn in by the humor because almost any book that makes me laugh is considered a keeper on some scale.

I think, for all its faults, Rules of Attraction would make an excellent movie.  It's a bit more original that Alex and Brittany's story in Perfect Chemistry and more enjoyable a story overall.

I hesitated slightly about picking up Chain Reaction, the third book, right away, but then I read the excerpt that came in the back of Rules of Attraction and was instantly hooked.

"Do you play football?" Brandon asks.




Brandon is on a roll and won't stop until he's found the answer he's looking for.  "Tennis?"

"That would be a nada."

"Then what sport do you play?"

Carlos puts down his food.  Oh, no.  He's got a rebellious gleam in his eye as he says, "The horizontal tango."

My mom and Brittany start choking on their food.  My dad says, "Carlos..." in a warning tone he reserves for extreme instances.

"Dancing isn't really a sport," Brandon tells Carlos, oblivious to the shock at the rest of the table.

"It is when I do it," Carlos says. (p. 85)
Book Info
  • pages - paperback, 324
  • published - 2011
  • publisher - Walker Books
  • genre - contemporary fiction
  • rating - 5/5
  • received via - Half Price Books
  • series - Perfect Chemistry
    • Perfect Chemistry | Review
    • Rules of Attraction
    • Chain Reaction | Review
More Info
Simone's... Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

* McKee, Robert. Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. New York: Regan, 1997. Print.