The kids from the north side don’t really mix with kids from the south side. It’s not that we think we’re better than them, we’re just different. We’ve grown up in the same town, but on totally opposite sides. We live in big houses on Lake Michigan and they live next to the train tracks. We look, talk, act, and dress different. I’m not saying it’s good or bad; it’s just the way it is in Fairfield.
Alex is a bad boy gang member and Brittany’s a prissy ice princess. Can you see where this is going? Yeah, I could too, after about the first page. But that shouldn’t stop you from giving it a chance. Because getting there is very very fun.
They have a near disastrous meeting in the parking lot on the first day of school then of course they’re immediately assigned to be lab partners in Chemistry class (based on the alphabetical order of their last names, natch). Initially, they barely tolerate each other and try to outsmart the other with their witty banter and attitudes.
But are the attitudes covering something? Could there be more beneath the surface? Or are the stereotypes true? When a fellow gang member offers his car in a bet to see if Alex can bed the perfect Brittany by Thanksgiving, he figures she’s too lily-white for him to truly be interested in. She means nothing to him, so of course he takes the bet.
They are forced to spend time together to work on their Chemistry project and pretty soon sparks start to fly. They begin to see another side of each other. Ice princess with a not-so-perfect home life? Check. Gang member with a heart of gold? Check. Clichés abound, but they work here. Elkeles’ writing makes them seem new and different. You can see the development of their relationship and it happens in a very believable way.
There is plenty of sizzle as their dislike turns to lust, both of them insisting there’s nothing there. Once they get past the stereotypes, their relationship moves at a lightning fast pace. They fall hard and fast, as teenagers tend to do.
Each chapter alternates between Alex’s and Brittany’s point of view which I felt made it easy to get into the story, to know what they are thinking. Both main characters, and most of the supporting players, are very well-developed. You care quickly about them and understand why they do the things they do. They are flawed and gritty and real.
There is cussing a’plenty (in 2 different languages – bonus!) and lusty sexy scenes that made my heart go pitter patter. But again, it all felt very real and honest.
The sum up: Perfect Chemistry rocks. The premise feels new and fresh. The romance is raw and honest. Put this on your must read list right now.