Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles Review

Monday, July 1, 2013

Title: Rules of Attraction
Author: Simone Elkeles (Twitter)
Publisher: Walker BYR
Publish Date: April 27, 2010
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 326
Source: Personal Copy

When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado. Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did. Then he meets Kiara Westford.

She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now.
Kiara has an idyllic life in Colorado, if you don't take into account the fact that she's still trying to overcome the stutter that has plagued her since childhood. Carlos, on the other hand, couldn't have lived a rougher childhood if he tried. After his brother, Alex, was jumped out of the Latino Blood, his family sought to help Carlos create a new future for himself, as well. Carlos, however, doesn't believe that future is for him. He's a gangbanger. It's his life, and it's all he knows...plus, he knows he can't escape it even if he tries. But Kiara, try as she might to ignore it, sees something in Carlos that he might just not recognize, himself...hope.

This is definitely not the first book I've read by veteran contemporary author, Simone Elkeles, and I confidently say that it certainly won't be my last. Rules of Attraction follows in the same vein as it's companion/predecessor, offering a heartfelt story of two teens from opposite sides of the track. Blending raw tension, careful, slow-burning romance and a passionate story of trying to find one's place in the world, the novel tugs at your heartstrings from start to finish. Rules of Attraction promises to weave you into its world and break all rules, convincing you that there is redemption for us all - no matter how far gone we might think we are.

Rules of Attraction is one of those books that doesn't require you to think too deeply as you read it, but rather it inspires you to do so. Written in dual first-person perspectives and alternating chapters between Carlos and Kiara, the author manages to perfectly execute a seamless transition each time and really establish a strong character voice for both. Kiara, though outwardly timid because of her stutter, has a quiet power about her, and the only time we see that headstrong confidence waver is when she lets her guard down around Carlos. He, on the other hand, has the carefully-crafted facade about him. Carlos does his very best to keep everyone at arm's length, and readers can quickly identify that it's actually a defensive mechanism. But rather than defending himself, he's protecting others from him. Therein lies our first clue that there is hope for this outwardly crass and abrasive character. Through the story, we get to see Kiara and Carlos slowly lower their walls to one another, and the beauty is that the two have the opportunity to save each other from themselves, as well as outside influences. There is no shortage of drama in Rules of Attraction either, though it's clear that in this story, the characters, rather than the plot, actually drive the story, and I liked that a lot. I do think that, at times, I wish their chapters could have been a bit longer. I wanted to remain in Carlos and Kiara's heads a bit longer than two to three pages at a time. This did, however, move the pace of the story along faster. I also think that the climactic scenes near the end could have been fleshed out a bit more. I wanted to feel a bit more fear, rather than certainty that it was all going to end well. That said, I was actually surprised to find that I enjoyed an epilogue for a change, as well. Knowing that there was a sense of finality to this story was really nice and refreshing.

Overall, Rules of Attraction was a sweet, fast-paced and solid read. It's one of those books that doesn't necessarily force you to expand your literary horizons, but it definitely coaxes some emotion. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA and upper YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.

32 comments:

  1. LOVE LOVE Simone Elkeles!! She is a contemporary genius as far as I am concerned!!

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  2. You just reminded me that I need to finish this series. I have the third book ready and waiting for me to read it! I liked this one, but not as much as Perfect Chemistry. Alex Fuentes is hard to beat! :)

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    1. I haven't read past this one, but it was still a really good installment...I recommend it! :)

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  3. I have the first of the series on hold at the library. I'm not awfully excited about the serie but they sound heart warning. I like books with more extendable language and grammar things. We shall see!

    Lovely review, Melissa! <33

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    1. Read it, Melanie! Alex Fuentes will steal your heart...then Carlos will! ;)

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  4. I liked this installment too, but I have to say Perfect Chemistry will always be my favorite out this series!
    There was just something about it that made it extremely addictive.
    I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this one, Melissa. I agree that this isn't the kind of book that forces you to think, but it's more on the emotional side. Sometimes books like that are good to relax!
    Fabulous review, Melissa! :)

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    1. Oh, I definitely agree with that, Nick. It's hard to be Alex and Brittney! ;)

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  5. I love when romance writers have dual perspectives, flipping between characters each chapter. It's always amazing to me to watch people drop their barriers and really get to know one another.

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    1. I agree, Mary, and Simone does it so well! Their voices are perfect :)

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  6. I absolutely adored this book too Melissa, I loved how it was a book which I could completely devour in just one sitting. I definitely need more books like this in my life, ones that bring the swoon, but also deal with deep and meaningful issues in a great way too! Lovely review! :)

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    1. Exactly! It's the whole package, and it reads really, really well!

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  7. Short chapters definitely do keep things moving when reading, but like you, I often find myself wanting more time in a single chapter before moving on, especially when said chapters alternate POVs. Still, this is definitely a book I want to read, I adored Perfect Chemistry and need to get my Fuentes brothers fix! Lovely review as usual Melissa:)

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    1. Right? I definitely think you need to read about Carlos, Jenny...he gives his brother a run for his money ;)

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  8. I have 2 of her books, but I have never read them. I think I keep getting turned off to them somehow even though everyone loves them. I have NO idea why this is. It sounds like maybe it would be worth giving them a read, RULES OF ATTRACTION included. I think I may finally breakdown and give it a go. :)

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    1. Read them, Jen! Read them! Simone is a contemporary genius!

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  9. I should really read this. I loved Perfect Chemistry and it's interesting to read about Carlos all grown up. Glad you liked it!

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  10. My comments keep disappearing. Ugh. What I said before was that this was one of the first contemporaries I read and it's still my favorite. I love Kiara and Carlos! The ending was a bit far fetched (Kiara's father and stuff), but overall it was a great book. I'm so glad you loved it too. Great review, Melissa :)

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    1. Yeah, I definitely agree with that, Aman - but I find that happens in a lot of lighter romantic contemps, you know? Plausibility be damned ;)

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  11. I'm back from my blogging break! I've heard so much praise for Elkeles' books but I can't seem to make myself want to read them. I think it's the whole two teens falling in love and being from the opposite side of the tracks approach. I do like that you get dual narratives. Did you prefer reading this one or Perfect Chemistry, Melissa?

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    1. I actually preferred Perfect Chemistry, to be honest. Carlos' story is great, but I think Alex's story was so much more genuine!

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  12. I've heard about this one, but have yet to try a book by this author. This sounds like a sweet read. Plus CO? Oh I love books set in my state. Must read this one some time soon.

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    1. I highly recommend it, Melissa! It's an easy read, and I definitely enjoyed it :)

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  13. I have been wanting to read this author and this series for a long time and I just never can find the time, I did get a copy of her newest title Wild Cards and I am so hoping that it lives up to this series! I really really must get this read soon!

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    1. Definitely do! I love her work...definitely some good contemporary reading!

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  14. I'm so glad you enjoy these books, Melissa! Perfect Chemistry didn't work out for me since there were too many cliches, but I'm thrilled these romances work well for you. Great review!

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  16. So thrilled to see you enjoyed this, Melissa! I loved this and Perfect Chemistry! Romances between opposites in the social spectrum always intrigue and excite me. Wonderful review! :)

    I can't wait to read her newest, Wild Cards.

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  17. I've not read anything by this author yet, but it does sound good! I love stories that are character driven, especially ones with dual perspectives - I love to come away feeling like I really know them :) Great review Melissa!

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  18. I haven't read any of her books, but this trilogy sounds good. I especially love the cover of this one.

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  19. Oh! I really liked this one. In fact, it's my favorite out of the trilogy - even though I know most people would pick Perfect Chemistry. There's just something irresistible about Carlos and appealing about Kiara.

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