Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles Review

Monday, August 26, 2013

Title: Wild Cards
Author: Simone Elkeles (Twitter)
Publisher: Walker BYR
Publish Date: October 1, 2013
Genre: YA/NA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

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?
Derek pulled a stupid prank, and he's paying the price. Forced to move back home with his step-mother, he has to readjust to a whole new lifestyle and an entirely different crowd of people. Among them is his step-mother's extremely attractive and unavailable sister, Ashtyn. He knows he's not going to stick around if he has any say in the matter, so why not test the waters? Ashtyn, however, can take care of herself. With a clear goal and focus towards becoming a star player in a men's sport, she's thrown a curveball that make just make her vulnerable...and need Derek's help. But is there something more there than either of them are willing (or want) to admit?

If there is one author I know I can turn to for contemporary fiction, it's Simone Elkeles, so when I discovered that her next novel, Wild Cards, was on the table, you'd better believe I was all over it. With great skill and heartfelt emotion, the novel sweeps us up into the story of two utterly believable and completely relatable characters for whom we're powerless but to feel for. Often times, dramatic and peppered with dashes of wit, humour and fun, Wild Cards offers us a journey that's as believable as it is sweet - if only because we can see a little bit of ourselves in Derek and Ashtyn.

I'm no stranger to Ms. Elkeles' work. While some of her fiction works better for me than others, I don't think I can say that I've ever been disappointed, and Wild Cards is no exception to that rule. Derek and Ashtyn were clear, defined characters - both of whom I related to at times, and I felt for throughout. While Derek's tough-guy demeanor was clearly a facade, we could see the same mirrored in Ashtyn, and I appreciated the connection between the two characters that even they probably didn't know they had. It lent a sort of vulnerability to each of them, or a chink in the armour, if you will. I also liked that despite the fact that Derek was decidedly hot and attractive, there was more to him than a blanket stereotype. When we reach into his past and see his emotions for his birth mother who died of cancer, we see a real, true, tender person. Ashtyn was a bit of a kicker for me. She was sassy, judgmental, strong-willed and, frankly, obnoxious at first. But there was also a softer side to her that was just hid by her steely determination. I do think that the plot of Wild Cards took a pretty significant background role to the characters' developing relationship, and I did expect to have a bit more football - think, Friday Night Lights. Yes, there was an undercurrent of football that gently nudged the story along, but Derek and Ashtyn's interactions are what really fueled the entire plot. I think that the novel could have really bumped it up a notch by raising the game stakes, as well as fleshing out the ending a bit further because, in the scheme of things, it was quite abrupt. 

Overall, Wild Cards is another notch in Ms. Elkeles' winning YA belt. Despite a few hiccups or flaws, in my humble opinion, it's a sweet, fun, dramatic and engaging read. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA and NA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

20 comments:

  1. I'm really not a bit fan of Simon Elkeles. I've tried reading her first book but for some reason it didn't work quite well with me though I wasn't entirely discourage to try more of her books. Hopefully Wild Cards will be the one for me. Thanks for the lovely review, Melissa! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do agree she's an acquired taste, Eunice. Some of her work is fluffier than others, but for some reason, I just can't help but love the romance :)

      Delete
  2. I loved her other books too, so you can bet I read it too :) Great review and loved the football interaction..curious on the next book .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you really enjoy it, Julie! It wasn't without flaws, but it was a satisfying read, nonetheless :)

      Delete
  3. Sounds like a great contemporary with deep character development which I love. I'm sort of glad the football isn't at the forefront cos I'm not too much of a sporty person! lol Thanks for the great review Melissa, I have this one on my review list too.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a pretty darn good contemp, for sure, Jeann! I only had a few complaints :)

      Delete
  4. Gotta love some Simone Elkeles! I'm going to read this book next month and I'm super pumped for it. I kinda love when both character don't realize their feeling for each other and play it out longer. I think it's sweet, but it might also get very frustrating if they didn't figure it out soon. I can't to read this book! Great review, Melissa :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Aman! I really enjoyed this one despite its flaws - and Simone has a way for creating romances that I can't help but love :)

      Delete
  5. I'm glad to hear that you loved this one, Melissa. While I'm a huge fan of Simone Elkeles, this one simply didn't work for me. :(
    Like you said, Ashtyn came across as obnoxious at times and that made it so hard for me to connect with her character. I also didn't like Derek very much.
    Plus, I wanted more of the sports element in the story. Still, I have every intention of continuing the series.
    Lovely review, Melissa!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can definitely see where you're coming from, Nick. I struggled with Ashtyn at first, but she grew on me later on. But yes - I wanted more football, too. I'm not sure I really want MORE of this series, but I liked it enough as a stand-alone :)

      Delete
  6. I'm starting this one today Melissa! I can't wait:) I can definitely see how the plot is more romance focused than anything else just looking at how thin the book is, and I think I'll most likely wish the football element of the plot was given a bit bigger of a role, but I'm so glad to see that you still gave it a 4:) Lovely review from you as always my friend!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I just saw this one on NetGalley, but hadn't heard anything about it. I'm off to request it now. Thanks for the recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'd like to read this one. Maybe I'll start it today like Jenny. I like Elkeles's stuff although I've also found it a bit melodramatic at times. I need to go in allowing for overacting, so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have not read the Perfect Chemistry series yet, so this will actually be my first book by Elkeles. Glad to see you enjoyed it!

    Jennifer
    YA Sisterhood

    ReplyDelete
  10. I read Perfect Chemistry last year and found it had a lot of flaws, but I still really enjoyed the romance. I'm determined to give this author another chance, so I'm glad this one worked out for you. I'm not a fan of abrupt endings, but these typical romance arcs always win me over. Fantastic review, Melissa!(:

    ReplyDelete
  11. Good to hear that, even though Derek sounds a bit stereotypical (especially of NA these days), that he really isn't. I've enjoyed the other Elkeles I read and am looking forward to this one!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love Simone Elkeles writing, Melissa! I'll be picking this up soon so I'm thrilled you really enjoyed this. I'll know to have some patience with Ashtyn to begin with. Wonderful review! :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I wasn't particularly in love with this book, but I definitely enjoyed it. There's just something addictive about Elkeles books, and that hasn't changed with this brand new one. I really liked seeing the tension between the two characters and how it constantly shifted from one end of the spectrum to the next!

    ReplyDelete
  14. YAY. I'm glad you liked this one. I have it from BEA and I can't wait to indulge. I like that you say that these characters are connected in their tough exteriors, though they don't see it. I love that tension that the reader can see, even though characters are trying to ignore it. Plus I'm glad that there's added depth to the characters, even though I will go in fully expecting it to be romance centered. Glad you liked this one, Melissa!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm disappointed to hear that there isn't more football as the FNL angle is exactly what drew me to this book. Still I'm looking forward to giving it a read this week.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I always do my very best to return the favour :)

Please note that this blog is an award-free zone!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover