Saturday, December 9, 2017

Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes

🌟 I read this for the Yule Bingo Challenge, for the category of Weasleys: family goals. For more info on this challenge, click here. 🌟

"You are this amazing person. More than good enough. There is nothing you need to prove to anyone. Or even to yourself. You deserve more than what you give yourself credit for" (69%).

Why doesn't this book have more reviews? Just over 300? Goodreads, are you kidding me? This is a romance with everything people are looking for in romantic leads these days, and it's painfully underrated. All of you need to get on this, ASAP.

LOVE AND OTHER CHEMICAL REACTIONS has so much to offer. It's set in the Philippines with Filipino characters. It's got a heroine in STEM. Friends and family play a huge role in the story line. And it's so adorkably geeky and charming. It's like a gender-swapped version of THE ROSIE PROJECT, featuring a heroine who's a lot like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, only waaaaaaaay less mean.

Kaya Rubio is twenty-five and has never been in a relationship. She's totally and completely involved in her genetics research, and any time she doesn't spend in the lab is spent with her well-meaning but incredibly nosy and gregarious family. When she finds out her cousin is getting married, Kaya feels painfully aware of her single status, and decides to deal with it the only way she knows how -

With cold, hard data.

She decides to date a whole bunch of people, on semi blind dates, using a set of specific categories based on what she's looking for in her partner. To establish baseline data, she also picks the most unsuitable candidate she can possibly imagine: Nero, the artsy-fartsy owner of a bubble tea cafe.

This book was cute. And not saccharine cute. Cute in the way that Meg Cabot is cute. I call it "cute with substance." I loved how smart the heroine was, and how she threw herself into her data. I spent a lot of time in the lab in college, and while I was familiar with a lot of the studies she mentioned (especially those pertaining to neuroscience), some of it went over my head - and that was so refreshing. Who says romance novels have to be frothy? This is romance with substance.

I also really liked that the heroine appeared to be on the autism spectrum, and that nobody made a big deal out of it. I recently watched Pop Culture Detective's video, The Fantastic Masculinity of Newt Scamander, and he mentioned that Newt was socially awkward and seemingly had Asperger's but nobody made a big deal of it and he never had to change for the sake of the storyline; he dealt with people on his own terms, and his true friends liked him for who he was. LOVE AND OTHER CHEMICAL REACTIONS was like that. Kaya's friends know she's a little strange, but they love her for it and they respect her smarts, even if they don't always understand where she's coming from. It was the complete opposite of another romance I read featuring an autistic character, PUDDLE JUMPING, which was condescending as all get-out. Lilly acted like she making such a sacrifice by deigning to spend time with and understand Colton, whereas Nero, in LOVE AND OTHER CHEMICAL REACTIONS, loves Kaya for who she is, and appreciates her focused brilliance.

"I might not understand everything you say, but I'll never, never tell you to shut up" (47%). 

I loved this book so much. The chemistry between Kaya and Nero was really well done, and I also enjoyed seeing her go on all her dates. de los Reyes did a really good job at capturing promising dates that go nowhere, and dates that are obviously duds from the get-go (true fact: I once accidentally went on a date with a Trump apologist, and decided to suss out the extent of said apologist behavior by giving a mini-feminist manifesto speech. Spoiler: there was no second date). I also loved Kaya's family, and the focus on her research. There aren't enough romance novels out there that show women working, and loving their work. I love my work - and I think a lot of other women do, too.

The conflict in the last act was a bit frustrating and contrived, but I get it. This was all new to Kaya and she was afraid, so she did what she always did and hid behind her data because she was afraid about the intensity of her feelings. We've all felt that terrible anxiety and fear of rejection from wanting something so much. It was a little annoying but it worked for her character, and I got the HEA I was looking for. There were also a number of typos, which surprised me, until I realized that this was a self-published effort. Girl needs to get herself an editor, I think. But apart from that, I really enjoyed every moment of LOVE AND OTHER CHEMICAL REACTIONS.

"Falling in love is also irrational. So is pi" (89%)

P.S. I can't wait for the sequels. If you need an ARC reader, hit me up! I am so, so down for that!

4 out of 5 stars

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