Monday, 24 January 2011
Review: Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Unusually for YA romance, Kiara Westford is a genuinely a bit of a dork. She's a departure from the brand of supposedly unpopular everygirl YA heroines who nonetheless find themselves attracting super hot boys in their droves. She dresses badly, she's introverted, and she's also a little bit of a prude. At the same time, she has guts and determination. She's recently overcome a stutter, she's athletic, and she loves a challenge. Carlos Fuentes, on the other hand, is sexist and obnoxious and knows exactly how good-looking he is. In other words, he's a walking ego. Not selling him to you? Well, he also has an endearing way of relating to Kiara's little brother, he's intent on protecting his family, and in Rules of Attraction he finds himself transformed by the real emotional connection he feels for a shy tomboy the old Carlos wouldn't have looked twice at. And FYI: watching his heart gradually melt is a beautiful thing.
Fans of Perfect Chemistry will be pleased to hear that the romance in Rules of Attraction is every bit as sizzling. Simone Elkeles understands that the best romantic pairings are a blend of love and lust, and there's plenty of both here. The scenes between Carlos and Kiara are electrically charged, and things get majorly heated between them. Since there are some quite risque moments I wouldn't recommend this one to younger teens - it's definitely one for the higher end of the YA audience. The dual narrative works spectacularly well, with Carlos's chapters utterly convincing as the voice of a macho teenage boy who has no intention of ending up as soft on a girl as his older brother is.
Since this is a romance, what we all hope for is a happy ending. While we're never really in any doubt that we'll get just that, Simone Elkeles places obstacles between Kiara and Carlos that even Romeo and Juliet would falter at. There's a very real sense of just how difficult gangs make it for their members to leave, and yet Carlos does seem to wriggle out of things a little too easily at times. As in Perfect Chemistry, expect an epilogue you'll either love or hate; this one is just as corny and more than a little unnecessary, but ultimately it doesn't detract from the intoxicating romance that precedes it. Rules of Attraction is compelling, it's steamy, and it's fun. Fans of YA romance will devour it.
Out: January 6th 2011, UK
A big thanks to S&S UK for providing a review copy.