Simone Elkeles' latest (and most outstanding) YA novel Rules of Attraction as grade A quality bookcrack. When I explained this phenomenon to the hubby he said: "so you liked it and now you're craving more, but it just doesn't have any nutritional value?" Exactly so.
Rules of Attraction starts off with a bang: readers of Perfect Chemistry will immediately recognize Carlos as Alex's hot-headed, thrill-seeking younger brother who is ready and eager to make his mark. After losing his job and falling into trouble with a gang in Mexico, Carlos suddenly finds himself in the white-bread, upper-class high school in Boulder, Colorado and it's the last place he ever wanted to be. But Carlos is ready to make the best of things: he's happy to spend his days flirting with co-eds while bunking with his brother at the university until a search at school reveals a stash of drugs in his locker. With the threat of juvie hanging over his head, Carlos is forced to attend an after-school program for at-risk youth and agrees - under duress - to move in with one of Alex's old college professors in hopes of helping him to 'straighten' out.
But wait. There's more. *rubs hands together deviously*
Kiara Westford loves her family, her best friend, the great outdoors, and most of all the vintage car she is restoring. But she doesn't exactly love her shy, good girl persona. For her senior year, she's decided to step out of her shell where step number one is to volunteer to show a new student around Flatiron High. Who turns out to be none other than too-cool-for-you Carlos Fuentes. The two mix about as well as oil and water; wherein Carlos leaves Kiara eternally frustrated and maybe both a bit amused after each exchange. But just when she's decided to wash her hands of this hunky bad-boy for good, Kiara discovers that her professor father has decided to invite Carlos to live with them after his most recent brush with the law. Oh boy.
Undeniably, Rules of Attraction was a page-turner. I am a sucker for the good girl/bad boy scenario and although I was nervous it wouldn't be played out as well as in Perfect Chemistry, I was in for a pleasant surprise with Carlos and Kiara. Their seemingly simple story could easily have come across as campy and predictable but nothing of the sort occurs - Simone Elkeles is extremely talented at what she does. Her dialogue is snappy and engaging, her pranks perfect, and her characters! Her characters are utterly unforgettable. Both are believable as teens from vastly different worlds, struggling to understand each other. Kiara especially is made of some tough stuff. Having been setup as a shy wallflower, she could have easily been dominated by Carlos' larger than life personality - but no, Kiara holds her own, giving as good as she gets in an inspiring, girl-power kinda way. And the attraction between these two? Sizzling. Scorching. Have a fan ready. Like I said, it's some good bookcrack.
And I just can't finish without mentioning this truly striking cover. It has got to be one of my most favorite of the year in fact. The barely contained movement and the stillness of passion are just so lovely. And kissing in the rain? Sa-woon baby. What makes it even more special is that it captures a real-live moment from the novel itself! How astounding (and refreshing) is that?!
series reading order (sorta):
~ Perfect Chemistry - my review
~ Rules of Attraction
Because Everyone Loves a Second Opinion:
A Good Addiction review
La Femme Readers review
Sharon Loves Books and Cats review
The YA YA YAs review
book source: ARC provided by the publisher, Bloomsbury