Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles.

Synopsis from Goodreads.
Like his brothers, Luis Fuentes is a risk taker; whether he’s scaling the Rocky Mountains or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis is always looking for the next thrill. Nikki Cruz lives her life by certain rules -, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you”, boys lie to get their own way and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Then she meets Luis at his brother Alex’s wedding and suddenly she’s tempted to break all her rules. Getting Nikki to give him a chance is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by the head of the gang that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. Will Luis’s feelings for Nikki be enough to stop him from entering a dark and violent world that could prove to be the ultimate risk?

Warning: If you are a fan of this book you may want to avert your eyes. I like to think that I am open minded. I read the first book and…. eh, it was ok. I read this second book and I liked it more than I am willing to admit.

This book?

Um…
With my warning in mind, let’s proceed……

“Her words slam into my libido like a bucket of water on a flame full of testosterone. I think my dick just twitched in protest.”

That above quote pretty much sums up this book.
Mate, what does that even mean? A flame full of testosterone? What is his dick twitching in protest to? Being hit with a bucket of water? I just…. I just don’t know.
This book….

This book…

This book slammed into my intelligence like a bucket of water on a flame full of intellect. I think my eye just twitched in process.

I know I shouldn’t complain but I mean come on… I am a complete advocate for reading books that should technically be classed as ‘guilty pleasures’ even if I don’t believe in them. (If something brings you pleasure, why should you feel guilty?)
This book did not bring me pleasure, not matter how much this Fuentes brother tried.

Let’s talk about the characters.
Luis Fuentes- come on dowwwwwn.

Mate, I don’t like you. Seriously, I have a lot of tolerance when it comes to the Fuentes brothers. HEY, I have boobs, it’s in my nature. Right? RIGHT? All the girls love the Fuentes. ALL OF THEM. With your washboard abs and your violence and your sexually aggressive tendencies.
But you, mi chava, you were so dull and infuriating at the same time. It was like the boring/dull/horrendous parts of Carlos and Alex had been smushed together and we’d been given you. Gah.

“I don’t know if it’s a good idea to get involved with me right now.”

The only time I want a YA boy to say that- is if he is actually a {insert supernatural creature here} who will EAT his lady love. Not an adrenaline junkie gang bangin’ poet who can’t keep his la tengo duro to himself.

Speaking of lady loves…

Nikki- come on dooooowwwwn.
I wanted to like you, really I did. I relate to you so much. I know exactly what’s it like to be broken up with because I’m not Mexican enough. It’s awful, isn’t it? It’s happened to me so many times I’ve lost count. You’d think it wouldn’t bother me now but you’re wrong. It’s rough, yeah?
You taught me a lot though, darling Nikki, because now I know as long as I have a bicep to cling onto, I’ll be reet and I’ll be able to face the world with my head held high and…. what not.

Also, was it just me or did the italicised Español get ridiculous? I have no idea what half of this book said. Oh and every time someone says ‘andale’ to me, I get this song in my head.

This book made no sense. The characters and story lines were just flung together in the way I imagine the ingredients would be if I were to ever make enchiladas.
I have so many questions.

Why was Luis in a gang?
Why did Nikki hate boys so much and then kiss them in pool houses?
Or… OK, fair enough…. A bit of a distrust but why did she think that Luis was going to be the same as Marco? Not every Mexican boy is the sa-

Wait…. Just got a call from Latino Boys In YA Official Group of Gangbanging and Officialness and I’ve been informed that yes, every Mexican boy is the same as Marco and they are all affiliated with a gang and they all take drugs and gangbang each other (did I use that right?) and shoot people and fall for rich girls who they see as a ‘challenge’.

I have more questions but I get too angry to ask them.

In a sentence– I wanted this book to be about a shy Latino boy with two badass gangbangin’ brothers who meets a sassy Mexican gal who is all sassy and…. um.. sassy.

In a paragraph– I wanted this book to be about a shy Latino boy with two badass gangbangin’ brothers who meets a sassy Mexican gal who is all sassy and….um…. sassy. I would love to have seen Nikki completely sass him (is that a thing?) and have had a Fuentes brother who didn’t know what to do with a full-blooded mamacita. Instead I got a book with two unlikeable characters that I didn’t understand, a completely unfeasible plot (tell me again why Luis is in a gang?), angst thrown in for no apparent reason (HEY MARCO!) and scabby dogs. Oh and character assassinations of people that I loved. Carlos… crying? You’re having a giraffe, right?

I have no more words so I’m going to post random snippets of the commentary my fellow readalongers and I created. They aren’t in any order and they don’t make sense… kind of like this book.

I’m keeping this bit anonymous so we can play a game of Pin the Snark on the Reviewer. Out of Reynje, Flann, Trin and I…. Who said what?

SPOILERS.

  • I would vomit on someone if they proposed to me like that.
  • She sounds like she lets her PANTIES drop for any Mexican around
  • If I was Kiara, I would kick Carlos in the face while he’s down on one knee.
  • I’m just skimming for biceps now.
  • This hey, hey business is the worst EVERYTHING IS THE WORST!
  • **** this ****ing book.
  • Because all gangbangers are awesome at sex and not one of them ever was not anything less than a facepunch of sex-awesome, according to Elkeles.
  • I couldn’t stop laughing thinking about driving over there and just picking up a Mexican guy for sex.
  • I always think of other boys when I’m in bed with a gangbanger.
  • I just can’t stop straddling things. It’s a real problem.
  • WHEN HE LOOKS AT ME I ALMOST BREATH! This is so tense you guys!
  • I hate it when my boyfriend’s beautiful mesmerising eyes pierce my soul.
  • If someone got gangbanged, I’d think they were in a porn video rather than in the hood. The way the Elkmeister uses it is such a secondary meaning for everyone. And it makes me chuckle every.damn.time..
  • May the gangbangers ever be in your favour.

As much as this review is full of snark and negativity, I want to reiterate something: I finished this book. Yep, I finished this book. Thus the power of Ms Elkeles, she will always get the last laugh.
And it seems I am, and always will be, a sucker for gangbangers.

That sounds so wrong to my fragile English brain I can’t even deal with it.

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9 thoughts on “Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles.

  1. I totally agree with you on this book. I think I chose to not rate this book on Goodreads, because there was so much crazy WTFery, I couldn’t even get my head around it. The parts that annoyed the hell out of me the most were 1) why on earth was he in the gang? and 2) why the hell did his mom move him back to that toxic environment? What sort of mother does that?! Now I’m mad again.

    I actually secretly liked the second book too.

    • Thanks Sarah!
      I have no idea! His mum really annoyed me too. Did it even explain why they all moved back to Fairfield? Oh whatever, I don’t even care.

      I know! It made absolutely no sense for him to join a gang. He wants to go to uni, so why did he jeopardise that by joining a gang?

      Gah.

      The second book was secretly wonderful. I loved Carlos in that.

      • So, they moved back to Chicago because Alex and Whatshername were in grad school (I think?) and the mother couldn’t handle being away from the grandkid. Why she couldn’t wait the year while Luis was finishing up high school to move back or at least live in the same town as Alex and Whatshername (Evanston) were, rather than back in their old neighborhood, I have no idea. And then her complete cluelessness throughout this series (but it’s worse in this book) leads me to believe that this woman actually didn’t give a flip about her kids and their well-being. No wonder they’re all screwed up and joining gangs.

        Also, I wanted to punch that epilogue in the face.

  2. I liked the first two books…about the same actually. But the problem I have is that all the characters really feel the same to me. The boys are just characterized with general angst and the girls feel insecure about something but the guys think they are so amazing. They seem to be very good at expressing their feelings towards their lady loves but not when it comes to the actual life choices they make and what is going on beyond their relationships. Annnnnd nothing I am saying makes any sense. *sigh* I loved reading (what I read of) this with you guys. Too much fun:)

  3. LOLS. All the LOLS. Did a proper belly laugh when I read that quote. Surely a dick would shrivel in protest?
    And ‘twitching’ made me think of bird watching and i now i have bill oddie in my head. Which is so many kinds of wrong, i just…
    And the whole gangbangers thing. REALLY CONFUSING

  4. You were broken up with because you aren’t Mexican enough?! Well. The only way to recover from something like that is by drinking a bottle of tequila and then yelling: ‘Who’s not Mexican enough now?!?’

    That fantastic, deeply intelligent quote at the beginning made me snort so loudly that my kid woke up.
    Anyway, I’ve never read a book by the mighty and powerful Elkeles. I’m terribly ashamed of myself, I swear. But it couldn’t have been that bad. Could it? :/

    • Well, I was wearing a sombrero AND a poncho and it still wasn’t good enough for him!
      Some boys, Maja! Some boys!

      If you are looking to read an Elkeles book, I’d definitely read Rules of Attraction. It’s a lot of fun if you ignored the cringey bits. Hahaa.
      But yes, this book IS that bad. Worse… maybe. :-|

  5. I was never really interested in reading this series, but really want to read the author’s other books. I don’t feel so bad about skipping this one now. Also, I tried guessing which song you posted before I clicked it and laughed when it was the same thing I thought too. The added commentary was amazing! Kudos.

  6. Oh these books… I don’t what to say but they are… entertaining! And funny, when they shouldn’t be! And Simone’s website, with the video clip style book trailers, ha!

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