26 February 2013

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Like his brothers, Luis Fuentes is a risk taker; whether he's scaling the Rocky Mountains or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis is always looking for the next thrill.  

Nikki Cruz lives her life by certain rules -- don't trust a boy who says "I love you," boys lie to get their own way, and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield.  Then she meets Luis at his brother Alex's wedding and suddenly she's tempted to break all her rules. 

Getting Nikki to give him a chance is Luis's biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by the head of the gang that nearly destroyed his brothers' lives.  Will Luis's feelings for Nikki be enough to stop him from entering a dark and violent world that could prove to be the ultimate risk?
I think, whenever this series is mentioned, the proclamation is immediately followed by a dreamy sigh.  I mean, really, who wouldn't sigh over any of the Fuentes brothers?  It's such a shame to see their stories come to an end, but Chain Reaction was a great capper to the series: a steamy hot, but complicated romance, Luis and Nikki's relationship fell perfectly in the steps of the previous Fuentes boys, and although I think the writing still needs work, the power of the story shines through brilliantly.  Chain Reaction was a great novel, and an excellent finish to the Perfect Chemistry series.

Everything about Chain Reaction (and really, the Perfect Chemistry series in its totality) was excellent.  Except.  I thought the writing style really needed work.  There was way too much showing, and not enough telling, in every place except for the make out scenes.  And while this is what makes the make out scenes so blush-worthy, I think if the same detail and sense of atmosphere had been put into the rest of the story, then it would have flowed better.  As it was, I didn't get any kind of adrenaline rush when guns were going off and car tires were burning against pavement.  However, it was rather easy to push the writing style aside and just focus on the story, because while the writing may be a little shoddy, the story had a powerful, passionate core.

There were a lot of great things about the story itself, but I think my favorite would have to be the characters.  I like how Luis was portrayed as the more academically inclined brother in the first two books, even though his involvement in both prequels was pretty limited.  I like how I could still see the academic in him (he did his homework, he studied before he went out with friends) and yet, there's this whole other side of him and a whole raft of struggles that he has to deal with.  Same with Nikki: she had to deal with things that fifteen-year-old girls just shouldn't have to, but I liked the way it shaped her character.  With both her and Luis, their motivations were clear.  I understood where they were coming from, so it made the story much easier to follow, and to enjoy, even if their choices were obvious a mile away.

Despite the predictability of the plot, Simone Elkeles does not half-ass the drama.  Normally, I steer away from unnecessary because it's just that: unnecessary.  But this is drama that I can get into because I like and respect the characters.  So even when everything hits the fan, I can understand why and not get pissy over it.  Of course, a little dash of humor goes a long way.  And Luis, like his brothers, has a wicked mouth.

Chain Reaction was a great addition to the Perfect Chemistry series, and ended the series well.  I am so psyched to read Simone Elkeles' next series.

Quotes
He has no clue that I have the patience of a saint. At least that's what Carlos says, although that isn't saying much, considering his fuse is about as short as an eyelash.
She ignores me, so I cup my hands over my mouth and do something I haven’t done in years— barnyard sounds.

Book Info
  • pages - paperback, 308
  • published - August 2011
  • publisher - Walker
  • genre - contemporary fiction
  • received via - Barnes & Noble
  • rating - 5/5
  • series - Perfect Chemistry
    • Perfect Chemistry | Review
    • Rules of Attraction | Review
    • Chain Reaction