Title: Wild Cards [Wild Cards #1]
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.
Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?
This book was very… superficial. No, hear me out.
When I picked up the book, I expected a slightly used and dented, bad boy kind of guy. A “crook” like Caleb, or a “gang member” like Alex (Elkeles’ other characters). Instead, I got Derek, the boy-next-door kind of hot, but also the down to earth kid who voluntarily rebuilds a shed and cleans up the house’s landscape for no reason except for the fact he thought it just looked like a mess. His worst crime? A prank that he pulled at his private school.
Then we have Ashtyn who’s supposed to be this very empowering football captain kind of girl, spinning those gender roles around, but instead, we get this girl who really isn’t ready to take on the challenges she faces and we get VERY little football playing from her perspective. When we do, she messes up or just get REALLY angry and doesn’t do anything about it.
THAT BEING SAID. I quite enjoyed the overall story. If I ignore the synopsis and Ashytn’s assumption that Derek’s an axe murderer or something, it’s actually pretty good. We get to see these two characters grow, and we do, in fact, get a lot of background information on them. We learn about Derek’s mom, and his own football background, and then we see Ashtyn’s relationships fall apart and then slowly weave themselves back together. I honestly thought it was a pretty good book. I did feel like the whole football part should’ve been a larger part of the book (’cause I mean there’s a football player on the cover, I’d think she’d play it a little bit more).
I don’t know, I expected a lot more from Elkeles, because I loved her other books. They were intense, they were deep, and they all had that kind of anguish in it that really made you feel something. This one kind of skimmed the surface of the characters without really digging as far as they could. Admittedly, I did enjoy some of the pranks, and I did enjoy what I’d learned throughout the book, but it just wasn’t enough, in my opinion.
Overall, not a bad book on its own, but it fell REALLY short of my expectations for something written by Simone Elkeles.
World Building: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.9/5