Book Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
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 south sider 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?
The third book in Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemisty series was good. It was a little different. It flowed. If it had been the first of a series, I would have applauded Elkeles for having created a very solid beginning. But the thing was, it wasn’t. Chain Reaction was supposed to be the finale to her Perfect Chemistry novels, but compared to its predecessors, it didn’t measure up. There wasn’t much of the real chemistry found in Perfect Chemistry or the sweetness found in Rules of Attraction. Luis was good as a character, but this was constantly undermined by the cockiness about him that felt forced (as if Elkeles has gotten him confused with Carlos) and the fact that the one thing Nikki asked of him was not to lie, and that was all he did. Nikki herself started out as a strong character–if you can get past the fact that she was Mexican as opposed to white like in the other two books but all she did was act white–but towards the end she fell flat and unbelievable as she continued to pine after Luis after everything he did to her.
I will admit that the book had its moment; a few between Nikki and Luis, but most when Elkeles brought back Carlos and Kiara and Alex and Brittany–and kids! I fell in love with Alex and Brittany and I adored Carlos and Kiara so my perception is skewed, but it seems to be that I shouldn’t be begging for characters from past books to drop in instead of caring about the story the book is actually about.
I must say, the end of the book did much to redeem itself, but there is only so much it can do when the rest of the book has been so flat. There was an interesting twist (and even another senseless death like Perfect Chemistry. Not what I meant, Mrs. Elkeles!) The epilogue, of course, was as corny and sweet as ever, and put a nice closing chapter onto the trilogy. All and all, a good read, but not quite as good as the first two books in the series.