Dear Chain Reaction (and by extension Simone Elkeles), I love you. Not in a creepy way, but in a "I instituted a book buying ban but broke it for you because I simply couldn't wait until my notoriously slow library got you in." In other words, I love you enough to crack open the wallet and own you. (Errr... this keeps getting stranger, I think I'll move on). Although before I jump into the meat of this post I do have to give credit where credit is due and say thank you to MA from EFG who insisted I read Elkele's How to Ruin series- she was right, I loved them and now I'm hopelessly addicted to Elkeles' books. The only course of action is to ramble on about this addiction and do my best to make sure you guys read all of Elkeles books too. So here we go....
By: Simone Elkeles
Release Date: August 16, 2011
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 southsider 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?
As already mentioned, I loved this book. I love the other books in this series (Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction). What Elkeles does is pretty amazing- meaning she writes realistic books about teens, and she writes them well. She doesn't shy away from the worst there is out there. Through the Fuentes boys, in this book specifically Luis, we see how no matter how much you want a better life, sometimes circumstances pull you back under. We see gang activity, shootings, drug deals gone wrong and a huge amount of cursing. We also see kids having sex for all the wrong reasons. Still, for every harsh reality we also see the best of humanity on display. We get to see true love blossoming (in all it's awkward and dramatic glory) and we see a family who sticks together against all odds and who would literally die for each other if it came down to it. Most importantly, we see that there is always hope.
As always I'm going to start with the negative and end on a high note. A really minor thing made me cringe, and I hate to mention it, but I feel like I probably should. Here it is... Paco, Alex and Brittney's kiddo is two and in the book it's stated that he smiles at Luis with his four tooth grin. Now I have a two year old- and she's had a full mouth of chompers for a while now- so that was something that made me wonder. (did I miss something here?) It certainly didn't ruin the book or anything, but Elkeles is one of those authors that I feel does an insane amount of research for her books (I've seen the pictures of her riding around with cops and in an interview she talked about visiting prisons) and this little thing struck me as out of character. Anywho- minor issue in a great book, so let's commence with the good stuff!
This book is told in alternating points of view, this time Luis (the youngest Fuentes) and Nikki and much like the other books we see how they meet, how they challenge each other, fight, love and eventually come out better people. I don't want to give any of the story away (I want you to go read it- like now) so I'm going to refrain from gushing about every little plot point and story line, but lets just say there is a lot of action, some devastating heart break, some laughs and some really, really good loving.
Not for nothing, but Elkeles is a master at a few things- accuracy, humor and love. And by love I mean everything make out sessions and sex scenes to proposals and weddings and happily ever after- she...uh... nails it.
So, the long and the short of it is that this is a great third book in a great series from a great author. If you haven't read Elkeles' books yet, you really should get on it! Oh, and if you ever get the chance to see Elkeles in person, do that too. She is a great presenter and a lot of fun.
I'm going to leave you with the book trailer for Chain Reaction... it's a good one (as are all her other book trailers)