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Review: Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

29 Sep

Series: Perfect Chemistry, book #2

Published: April 27th 2010 by Walker & Company

Details: Paperback, 324 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Sequel to Perfect Chemistry which I loved!!! Following Carlos, the brother of Alex, who after some troubles moves into a professor’s house, where he meets the daughter Kiara. This book follows same plotline as Perfect Chemistry, but does not live up to the same standard. Good fun read but not fantastic.

My Full Review:

This is the sequel of Perfect Chemistry, following Carlos Fuentes, the little brother of Alex. Perfect Chemistry blew me away, with characters so alive and real that I kept thinking about them long after I turned the last page. So I can’t deny my expectations were pretty high when I started reading this sequel.

Ever since the traumatic end of Perfect Chemistry, Carlos, his little brother and his mom have been living in Mexico. Following some troubles at Carlos work in Mexico, he is sent to stay with his brother Alex in Colorado and go to school there. It doesn’t take long until he ends up into more trouble as a drug lord sets him up and he gets caught with drugs. Alex arranges for Carlos to stay at a his former professor’s home with his family to keep him out of jail. Kiara is the professor’s daughter who also happens to go to the same school as Carlos. They get off on the wrong foot at first but soon the attraction starts to grow.

Well, what can I say. Maybe if I hadn’t read Perfect Chemistry I would have loved this book. I couldn’t help but think that it was trying to be a new Perfect Chemistry but didn’t succeed. It’s still a fun easy read, but it didn’t touch me the way Perfect Chemistry did.

First of all I think it was because Carlos was so similar to Alex, that it felt as if I was reading about Alex again. Yet, while I totally understood where Alex came from and why he felt the need to shield himself from the world, as he had a bad-ass reputation to protect and was a member of the Latin Bloods in the area, I didn’t understand it with Carlos. He was plain rude and arrogant most of the time and I couldn’t grasp why he felt the need to be that way.  Insecurities sure, and feelings of not belonging maybe, but it was not as clear to me as it was with Alex.

Kiara was a sweet girl but in my opinion a bit bland. Apart from her tomboy persona and her stuttering there was not much else that made her stand out. Brittany in Perfect Chemistry had a more complex and interesting persona, what with being miss popular who carried a family secret.

The attraction between Kiara and Carlos was well portrayed and steamy at places but I felt it came from out of nowhere. One moment they were bickering at each other and the next they were having an almost-kiss. In Perfect Chemistry I understood their mutual attraction better as both Alex and Brittany let each other in, revealing secrets they hadn’t told anyone about. That didn’t happen here and so it wasn’t clear to me why they felt drawn to each other.  They suddenly just were.

Finally the climax at the end felt a bit forced, as if it was thrown in just for the sake of some action. In Perfect Chemistry it has more of a natural flow as if the whole story is leading that way, towards the climax. In Rules of attraction, not only did the gang member plot feel a bit forced, it also felt too unrealistic what with the professor helping out the way he did, putting himself in danger for the sake of Carlos who he has known barely a couple of months. It just felt a bit too “cookie butter sweet” for me. I love a happy ending but there are limits (even for me) to how cheesy it can be.

The Bottom Line:

So, final verdict? Well, having read Perfect Chemistry it is impossible not to compare it with that book as they are so similar plotwise. And I’m sorry to say Rules of Attraction does not come up to the same level. That being said, I still enjoyed reading it, and boy did I read it fast. So it is an easy fun yet somewhat fluffy read. But it’s not a book that will blow you away. A third book in the series will be released following the youngest Fuentes brother Luis, which I plan to read. My expections however have now been lowered as I expect a similar read there.

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

29 Sep

Series: Paranormalcy, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 352 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Anticipated debut about Evie, who works for the IPCA, an agency which controls paranormal creatures in the world. She meets shapeshifter Lend and things spiral out of control. Great light, quirky and funny read, a nice contrast to the other doom-and-gloom epic paranormal romances out there. Very enjoyable read!

My Full Review:

A lot of hype surrounded this debut, which has earned praise from authors such as Lisa McMann and Becca Fitzpatrick, and a whole lot of rave reviews at the book blogs. Needless to say, I was really happy to finally get hold of a copy!

The heroine Evie is working for IPCA, the International Paranormal Containment Agency which is an organization aiming to monitor and control the paranormal creatures of the world. You could think of it as similar to the organisation in Men in Black, although they of course monitored aliens. Evie is useful to the IPCA as she can see through all kinds of glamour that paranormal creatures use to blend into the human world.

She is an orphan and has been living with and working for the agency practically her whole life. Her best friend is a mermaid who works there as a secretary and her boss Raquel is kind of her substitute mom. Oh, and there is Reth, her ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a fairy.

Yep, Evie is not the most normal teen out there. Yet normal is what she craves. She wants other teenagers (humans!) to hang out with, a highschool to go to (with lockers!), a driving license and boys to flirt with. Instead, she regularly escapes into her beloved tv-series Easton Heights for a dose of (what she thinks is) ordinary teenage life.

Still, she doesn’t reflect too much upon these issues until things change. A mysterious unknown creature called Lend breaks into the agency and is caught and detained at the IPCA quarters. Lend is a shape-shifter who can take on almost any form. Evie, not surprisingly, is the only one who can see through his various glamours to his real form.

Lonely as she is, and curious by nature, she starts a habit of visiting Lend in his prison cell. Soon they develop a crush on each other. Triggered by Lend, she starts questioning things in her life she had never thought about before. It turns out everything is not what they seem. Meanwhile, something is killing paranormal creatures and the agency is getting worried. Somehow this is all linked to Evie and her past.

My thoughts:

First of all, I was surprised to find that the tone of the book is light. The heroine Evie is explaining everything in a jokingly kind of way, as if not really taking it that seriously. It starts already in the opening scene where she makes fun of a vampire who is about to kill her.

“Oh, stop pouting. But, really, the widow’s peak? The pale skin? The black cape? Where did you even get that thing, a costume store?”

It is definitely refreshing to find a light tone in the narrator’s voice, a nice contrast to all the doomed, epic, dark, haunting and angst-ridden paranormal love stories I’ve read in the last year. I was expecting a darker tone though so it took me a couple of chapters to get used to Evie’s jokes. At first they felt forced, but eventually I warmed up to her bubbly, quirky personality and found myself chuckle out loud a couple of times.

Likewise it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the world White has created. There is a lot of info thrown at you at first. The whole idea behind the IPCA has to be explained, as well as Evie’s role in there and of course every paranormal creature you may have ever heard about is present in this book, so that has to be included too. I felt a bit like I did when I started reading City of Bones, like there was so much world-building going on I found myself detaching from the plot. It didn’t last long though. Once you get used to the idea of all that paranormal activity going on at the same time, it becomes easier to focus on the plot again, and get sucked into the story.

Once I did get into the story, I got into it fast. I loved so many aspects of it. The characters felt multi-dimensional and real . It’s easy to warm up to the heroine, who is strong and insecure at the same time. She’s bubbly with life and says what she thinks, yet she is also insecure and is struggling with loneliness and a feeling of not belonging anywhere. The growing bond between her and Lend is believable. They are honest and straight-forward to each other right from the start. Of course she is the only one who has ever seen Lend for what he really is – which yes, may sound cliché, but actually warmed my heart!

I was equally intrigued by the mystery surrounding the plot. Reth, the fairy seems bent on taking Evie’s heart but what are his intentions? What is the role of the IPCA? What is the creature who is taking out paranormals? And how is Evie’s past linked to all of this?

While alternating between all these plotlines and the growing relationship between Evie and Lend, there was not one boring moment. I was literally glued to the pages until the very end. The ending left me pretty satisfied, all though some questions were left unanswered. I am still wondering about the role Reth played.

One minor dissapointment though was the climax at the end, which I thought was solved too easily, and without being properly explained. Sorry to be talking in riddles but I want to avoid spoilers. For now, all I’ll say is that I was wondering about the logic behind one particular action, attempted and not carried through, by the villain. It didn’t make sense to me.

The Bottom Line:

Despite those question marks, it was still a very entertaining read. Kudos to White for creating such a fun refreshing new take on the young adult paranormal genre! (Something which is quite an accomplishment in the crowded ya paranormal market). I can’t wait to dive into this paranormal world again, which should happen in about a year. The next book Supernaturally is out in the fall 2011.