Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Summary: Carlos Fuentes idolized his older brother, Alex, when he was a member of the Latino Blood. So when Alex chose to get jumped out of the gang for a chance at a future with his gringa girlfriend, Brittany, Carlos felt shocked and betrayed. Even worse, Alex 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 hundreds of miles away in Colorado.
In Boulder, Carlos has to live with one of Alex's college professors--and he feels completely out of place. He's even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the 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 that conspire to keep them apart.
Sometimes I have this problem where I have to finish a series once I start reading (see: the fact that at the moment I am rereading books one through twelve in the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket in order to read number thirteen, which is the only one I haven't read even though it came out roughly five years ago). I read Perfect Chemistry and decided that Rules of Attraction would be next.
One aspect I enjoy about these books is that they are loosely connected, meaning that you don't have to remember any details about the first one in order to read the second. Not that I put any length of time in between. I just like the concept I think.
Elkeles's second book in the Perfect Chemistry series turns to Alex's brother, Carlos. He was bounced from Fairfield to Mexico and then up to Colorado. Unlike his older brother Alex, Carlos aspired to be in a gang. He meets Kiara (his polar opposite, as per the Perfect Chemistry formula) through his new school. Kiara is annoyed by his attitude, Carlost is annoyed by how neurotic and non-girly she is, and the two begin pulling pranks on one another. Carlos ends up living at her house, providing them the opportunity to let their respective guards down and fall in love with one another.
Rules of Attraction was definitely different than Perfect Chemistry. I think it took me slightly longer to read (though the difference is probably due more to the fact that I was watching Doctor Who while I was reading). Once again, the two main characters alternated chapters using their own unique voices. I give Elkeles credit for the fact that each of her characters sound legitimately different. I thought that I was going to have a problem with Carlos's cockiness, but instead I was slightly turned off by the fact that he hated Alex not being in a gang. I found that he sounded very young to me, even though Alex had been the same age in the previous book. Kiara's character was fine--I thought she was going to be very beige, but she was pretty interesting (minus the hiking thing, but that's probably due to my lack of interest in moving around amongst nature). Kiara's father and brother were both great characters who brought out the better sides of Carlos. I actually found the changes inspired by Kiara's father and younger brother to make more of an impression on me than the changes inspired by Kiara.
One character I didn't find very endearing was the character of Tuck, Kiara's best friend. I felt that the slight racism inherent in Tuck's remarks towards Carlos to be kind of annoying.
The reappearance of Brittany and Alex was cool. They were legitimate characters with separate problems, only this time they were secondary instead of primary. I thought that they were going to make mere cameo appearances in which they explained that their lives were fantastic, blah blah blah. Their continuing problems made their relationship seem more legitimate. Brittany shifted into the older sister that was never wanted for Carlos, creating more feelings of hostility in him. He already believed that Brittany took the badassery out of his older brother and didn't think she needed to become involved in his life. The sibling relationships between the characters are what made this one interesting for me.
Once again, the epilogue that demonstrates that history repeats itself pretty much to a T seemed quite unnecessary. Nevertheless, Rules of Attraction was a quick, light teen romance that lived up to the potential promised by the first book in the series.
Rating: 3 - fair.