Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is a tepid book about a rich girl and a poor gang member who end up doing everything together except the chemistry assignment that brings them together. It is readable. I hate describing a book as readable, because it’s the worst sort of insult to a writer. It translates into: “This book made me feel absolutely nothing.” I feel no need to read any of the 40 pages I got left. I read most of the book in one sitting and if I had not been sleepy I would have probably finished it, but I have no interest to go back and find out what happens. However, you might find Perfect chemistry to be a nice piece of YA literature, however. It’s not badly written, and maybe you’ll find something that appeals to you.
Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman is about Natalie who disguises herself as a boy to answer idiotic questions about what boys really want/think. Halfway through, I was unable to continue reading BIB. My sincere apologies to Jody Gehrman and all the people on Goodreads who rated this book with more than one star. I really tried to find a redeeming quality, but was unable to. I mean, honestly, 50% of this books consists of Natalie putting on make up to look like a boy, being anxious in various situations, screaming like a girl and looking at Emilio’s glistening moonlit muscles. It reads like a really bad daydream of a 12-year-old girl.
The DUFF (Designated Fat Ugly Friend) by Kody Keplinger is a fun, refreshing book about Bianca, a cynical high school senior who finds that hooking up with a guy she despises is a good way to run away from problems. Doing due diligence, I found that a lot of people think that Bianca hooking up with a boy she hates is disgusting and/or terrible. It never even crossed my mind because I got the impression that she doesn’t hate Wesley, she “hates” him. Haven’t you ever “hated” a guy? I have. I “hated” the hell out of a certain boy with a generic name. Hating him was easier because I thought there was no chance he would notice me, because he always picked the girls who were hot (i.e. not me), and because it was original (girls were either indifferent or obsessed with him) which was extremely important to me in my formative years. The book was written in first person, which is why Bianca doesn’t put quotation marks when she says she hates Wesley. She doesn’t know she “hates” him, the book is a process of her adding quotation marks.
What The DUFF lacks the most is attention span. Conflicts and problems are solved too quickly – parent problem, boy problem, friend problem – it all goes away in a whirlwind of cynicism and good will of other characters. Lackadaisical approach to sex could be considered a bit problematic, I guess. But it’s fiction, right? We should have some faith that kids today can tell the difference between fiction and advice. When I was sixteen if I read in some book which said that casual approach to sex is ok if you don’t get pregnant, I still wouldn’t have exclaimed in jubilee: “Yay, I’m gonna buy a ton of condoms, get on the pill and start screwing around!” The DUFF might not be among the best. It did not make me giddy, it did not make me fall in love with the male protagonist (didn’t make me feel anything about him, actually), but it was worth the time and it served it’s purpose – it entertained me.