September 12, 2011

Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Hardcover 308 pages
Published August 16, 2011 by Walker Books for Young Readers
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 I’ve been dying to read this book since I heard she was writing a book about the third and final Fuentes brother, Luis.

To be honest, the plot wasn’t quite as interesting to me this time around. Nikki’s story, and Luis’ ambitions were unique in comparison to the other two books, but the gang aspect didn’t pack quite the punch in Chain Reaction. But then, perhaps it’s the fact that I pretty much knew what to expect.

I did love Luis, though. And I absolutely loved seeing Carlos and Kiara, and Alex and Brittany again. As far as the family aspect goes, Chain Reaction is my favorite. We see them all together and in one place, and those moments are among my favorites in the story.  Carlos used to be my favorite of the brothers, but now I just don’t know anymore!

So. Did the characters live up to the rest of the series? Absolutely.   Did the steam? Chyeah! Did Chain Reaction live up to the rest of the series? In my opinion, no. 

So why am I still giving it five stars? Because to me, this isn’t really a series, but rather three companion novels. For this reason, I feel like I have to judge this book on its own, rather than in comparison to the other two. I devoured this book in just a few hours, because once again, I did not want to put it down. I got a little teary eyed in parts, and that’s rare for me. It’s one that I’m certain I will pick up again someday, just to read for enjoyment. In judging this book alone, it’s definitely a five star from me.

With this series wrapped, Elkeles’ other series long since wrapped, what’s next from Simone? I know I’ll be anxious to find out.

5/5 Stars!

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