Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles is the final book in the Perfect Chemistry series and I've been dying to read it since devouring the earlier two books a few months ago.
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?
I love this series and Chain Reaction did not disappoint. The series seems to follow a basic template for each book: bad boy meets good girl, bad boy acts cocky while good girl plays hard to get, steamy romance ensues, bad boy gets the crap beat out of him...and I won't spoil the rest. Chain Reaction follows this basic template, but with a bit of a twist. Luis Fuentes isn't a bad boy like his brothers Carlos and Alex. And Nikki isn't your typical good girl either.
I immediately felt connected to both Luis and Nikki after reading the first chapters from their perspectives. The structure of the novel is a bit different than the others, allowing for greater gaps in time between events. I really liked this approach because it made the romance more believable given the characters and circumstances. Simone Elkeles has a talent for capturing her characters with authenticity. As a Chicagoan who has worked with teen gang members, I think she captures this group particularly well.
Best aspects of Chain Reaction:
1) Simone Elkeles writes the steamiest scenes in YA and Chain Reaction outdoes her previous novels.
2) There's a huge twist in this one I was not expecting. Kept me on my toes as a reader and shocked the heck out of me.
3) We actually get to see Panty Discus in action! (it's not dirty, I promise!)
4) I love the way she integrates the stories and relationships from the previous novels without overshadowing the main characters in the current one. We get to see Alex and Carlos continue to maneuver their way through life without taking away from Luis.
Things that bothered me (and I had to be real nitpicky to think of anything):
1) There was a question/story brought up about Mrs. Fuentes that I wish had been fully answered.
2) Luis makes some stupid decisions. Considering how intelligent he is, it was frustrating to read sometimes.
3) Getting Luis associated with the gang seemed a little too easy. It wasn't unbelievable, but it seemed a little easy in my opinion.
Overall rating: Go buy it now!