Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
Release date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Reading level: Young Adult
Series: Book 1
Source: BEA (ARC)
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
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?
Simone Elkele's is a name almost synonymous with young adult literature, so it is probably surprising that this is only my second book by Simone. I read Perfect Chemistry a couple of years ago and loved it, but for some reason didn't get around to reading anything else by her until Wild Cards--her latest release. While I definitely enjoyed Wild Cards, it won't be joining Perfect Chemistry on my favorites shelf.
Wild Cards was told in alternating points of view between Derek Fitzpatrick and Ashtyn Parker; two characters that initially seemed like complete opposites. Derek was the sarcastic bad boy while Ashtyn was the withdrawn football player. Both of them had been through a lot and after random circumstances bring them together, neither of their lives will ever be the same. I enjoyed getting to know both Ashtyn and Derek through their own points of view, but I found myself liking Derek over Ashtyn. She tried to portray herself as the closed off, tough girl but she was much more weak and emotional than she wanted others to believe. Derek was more to the point and didn't play games-- he said what he thought and didn't let anyone tell him what to do.
This was a fast-paced read that I had a hard time putting down, not only because the chapters were short. While I always enjoy a good fantasy or historical fiction read, contemporary is my favorite because the characters and situations they encounter are often very relatable. Although I can't say I've ever played high school football.
The characters in Wild Cards had me feeling a bit mixed. I liked Derek a lot and almost looked forward to his chapters more than Ashtyn's. I didn't feel for her like I had hoped I would and her personality was a bit frustrating at times. I appreciate a girl who doesn't take crap from anyone and who can take care of herself, but sometimes her standoffish attitude was more annoying than admirable. The secondary characters often had a bigger impact; from Derek's stepbrother to Ashtyn's teammates, I liked getting to know them and to see how their relationships with the other characters developed.
All in all, this was another passionate and complex read by Simone Elkele's with relatable characters dealing with real issues. I would definitely recommend this to any contemporary fans, and while this didn't live up to my love for Perfect Chemistry, I am looking forward to seeing what's next for Derek and Ashtyn in the sequel.