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Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

March 20, 2010

You may recall that when I reviewed Simone ElkelesPerfect Chemistry, as much as I loved it, I spent most of my review criticizing various aspects of the book. Well, I’m going to do it again with it’s sequel, Rules of Attraction (can I still call it a sequel if the protagonists from the first book are only secondary characters this time around?).

For those who haven’t read Perfect Chemistry, it’s about (quoting from my review here) “Alex, Hot Latino Tough Guy Gangbanger (with a brain), and Brittany, Popular Perfect Blond Rich Girl (with a secret). Forced to become partners for the entire year in their chemistry class, Alex and Brittany start to see each other past the rumors and stereotypes and façades they’ve erected. Do I need to spell out what happens next?”

Anyway, back to Rules of Attraction. It doesn’t quite live up to the melodramatic awesomeness that is Perfect Chemistry. Mostly because Perfect Chemistry, whatever other faults it may have, is genuinely fraught with tension. Not just in terms of the, um, chemistry between Alex and Brittany, but also of the will-Alex-get-out-of-the-gang? and will-there-be-an-HEA? variety. I didn’t feel the same sense of urgency with Rules of Attraction. Despite this, I was not disappointed AT ALL by Rules of Attraction.

You don’t need to have read Perfect Chemistry prior to reading Rules of Attraction, but the latter works largely because it retains many of the elements that made Perfect Chemistry so enjoyable. Alternating first-person narration? Check. Bad boy/good girl dynamic? Check. Some hot romance? Check. Oh no, a gang might come in the way of the couple’s happiness? Check. Completely over the top epilogue that I actually found way more annoying than anything else? Check.

The Hot Latino Tough Guy Gangbanger half of Rules of Attraction is Carlos, one of Alex’s younger brothers. Carlos moves to Boulder, Colorado to finish high school, and, not long after his arrival, gets into trouble and is forced to move in with one of Alex’s former college professors. Surprise! The college professor has a daughter, Kiara, who is THE SAME AGE as Carlos, and she just so happens to go the same high school! What a coincidence. (I don’t know what it is about Elkeles’ books, but they make me snarky when I review them. Sorry.)

The White Girl role is filled by Kiara, who, unlike Brittany, is not popular and pretty much has a perfect home life (not that there’s anything wrong with this last part. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing more YA novels with happy home lives and teens who get along with their caring parents). Going to school together and living under the same roof, Kiara and Carlos get to know the real person… Wait, I think I’m repeating myself again. Kiara doesn’t have much in the way of problems or issues in her life. This could have made her chapters boring, but it’s a credit to Elkeles that they’re not. Kiara’s likable enough and Carlos’ problems big enough that the pace and energy of the story don’t flag regardless of who is narrating.

With short chapters, a high-stakes conflict, some humor and heat (read: for older teens!), Rules of Attraction is a fast, fun read. There’s also a decent number of appearances by Alex and Brittany, which only adds to the appeal of this book among the many fans of Perfect Chemistry. Rules of Attraction is not a particularly deep read, but it was entertaining and enjoyable and everything I was hoping it would be.

Except for the epilogue.

Rules of Attraction will be published April 13, 2010.

Book source: ARC from publisher.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2010 1:16 pm

    I’m so jealous you got an ARC of this! I had pretty much the same feelings about the original book that you did, except that the epilogue of Perfect Chemistry ruined almost any of the good things I thought or would have said about the rest of the novel. I’m cringing when I read that this one also has such an epilogue. But my students LOVE Perfect Chemistry. Sounds like they’ll end up loving this one too.

    • March 22, 2010 12:44 pm

      I wasn’t expecting to receive this ARC at all. I think I squeed when I got the envelope from Bloomsbury, then actually jumped in excitement when I opened it and saw this inside.

      Anyway, yeah, the epilogue. I treat it like I do the epilogue of HP 7: I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s hard sometimes, though. 😉 I have these constant, “Ugh, hate the epilogue” thoughts whenever I think about the books, but at least you’re warned now! Read most of Rules of Attraction, skip the epilogue. That way, you know it’s bad, but will never know exactly how awful it is. Unless one of your teens tells you.

  2. March 22, 2010 7:24 pm

    My ARC showed up the other day! I definitely squeed and jumped. 🙂

    Great review as always, Trisha.

  3. March 24, 2010 12:30 pm

    I want this book so badly!
    How does everyone else get an early copy?

    Please go to my blog and email me!


  4. March 25, 2010 4:19 pm

    I enjoyed this one, but Perfect Chemistry is my favorite. I’ve heard a third one is in the works (Luis need some lovin’, lol) but not sure if that’s true or not. The epilogue makes no difference to me (it’s cheesy, but cute).

    I liked the characters and it was definitely less dramatic (almost disappointgly so but I ended up not caring all that much). Ms. Elkeles does the alternaintg POV very well and I actually think the characters and the dialogue are quite authentic. I do love how she doesn’t translate the Spanish. Makes the reader go look things up 🙂 Although in my ARC copy I noticed a few Spanish errors so hopefully that will be corrected.

    Awesome review! Your P.C. review made me smile and was excellent as well 🙂

  5. April 7, 2010 4:57 am

    thanks for this great review. i not only found it extremely illuminating as a reader but it also proved enormously helpful as a writer. your thoughtful commentary enabled me to see me own teen romance with new eyes and make much needed changes that my agent and publisher failed to note. thanks again and keep those great reviews coming. i’ll be waiting…


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