Elements of Chemistry, Books 1-3 by Penny Reid
Note: As of August 6 all three of these books were bundled together for $5.99 (kindle edition) on Amazon. This is a steal! Don’t do what I did and buy the first one, only to later realize that you need all three (what a newb!).
Overall Rating: 4 (sXe)
Quick & Dirty summary:
Kaitlyn Parker is my kind of girl: Super smart, a little socially-awkward, but totally interested in doing things she likes to do and avoiding things she doesn’t. She plays three instruments, is majoring in mechanical engineering and occasionally hides in closets. She hates parties, loves to read, and is a total geek. Martin Sandeke is her hot, jerk-face lab partner who finds her hiding in said closet and quickly takes advantage of her muddled state to steal a kiss and feel her up. Martin convinces Kate to “get to know him better” over spring break on an isolated Caribbean island. Did I forget to mention Martin is loaded? Of course he is. In any case, as a freshman and sophomore in college, Martin and Kaitlyn have a lot of growing up to do. But will love help them discover who they are and want to be?
Really this novel is a coming of age story for both Martin and Kaitlyn. Since the novel is primarily written from Kaitlyn’s perspective, she is the one we see growing the most. What I loved most about this novel, though, was how well it portrayed that first love, which for a lucky few is also their lifelong love, through the process of finding yourself. It’s quick, it’s passionate, it’s intense, it’s confusing, it’s consuming, it’s everything… simply everything. And the way Reid captures all of those conflicting feelings through Kaitlyn is hilarious. Here’s an example: “Proximity to Martin made me lose my sense. I’d been senseless. Without sense. Not any sense. No sense. Nonsense.” The stream of consciousness is so entertaining. And let me tell you how much I love Kaitlyn’s relationship with her best friend Sam. Their conversations about feminism, sexuality, love, drugs, fears and insecurities, struck a cord with me. I remember those conversations with girlfriends in college. Heck, I have them still now, except it’s about religion, parenting, universal health care and education. The supporting characters in this novel were unique, with their own personalities and that just made the world of the book so much more colorful.
I am such a sucker for nerdy leading ladies it’s ridiculous and I think it will be a while before I get over that. I am also a sucker for an author who is interested in defining love for us, not because it is the sole definition of love—Kaitlyn’s father tells her that there are many kinds of love—but because it’s the kind of love that the characters learn to define for themselves. In this case, it’s realizing that being in love with someone is like being a sidekick. And what nerdy girl could argue with that?
Would I recommend it to my BFF?
Absolutely. My BFF and I may not be 19 anymore, but damn do I remember what it was like to give my virginity to my first love. The sex scenes are hot and the emotions are so intense. But through it all there is laughter, friendship and love—the ultimate trifecta of an amazing romance novel.