Walker, Books for Young Readers
October 1, 2013
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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 Elkeles' new novel Wild Cards is reminiscent of her Perfect Chemistry series. Set in the invented lakeside, Chicago suburb of Fremont - Fremont and their rival, in Wildcards, Fairfield are also part of the Perfect Chemistry universe - centers around Derek, Ashtyn and their family.
A family that suddenly becomes the same family.
The bad boy who turns out to maybe not be all that bad and the girl not ready to give him a chance, isn't really a 'new' idea. How it plays out in Wild Cards works pretty well, though. Derek isn't an angel - nor is he the 'thug' Ashtyn first decides he is. Ashtyn isn't a damsel secretly waiting to be saved, either. She's experienced, is experiencing her own pain and is stubborn but her character was something different.
I liked that Derek had his own things to work through and knew he was pushing Ashtyn at times and making stupid decisions. I liked that Ashtyn was a football player and fit in with her team but still had her insecurities with her family and boyfriend (and dog).
Wild Cards is a tricky book to review, however. I'm not sure I would have really liked it if someone other than Simone Elkeles had written the same story. Ashtyn experienced problems that were due to her being a female football player, later in the story, and I was disappointed in her reaction. Especially as football was something she hoped to do past high school. It's great if her current team loves her but if she's not able to convince more than those few players that she's capable, what's she going to do?
some spoliers below
I didn't like that so much of the book is about Ashtyn being this amazing football player. Yet, for any chance of winning state, it all comes down to the great, secret star Derek.I can understand I can see how this would set things up for the next book(s) but Ashtyn is really only good if Derek helps her in this way and that way. At least, that's how the story makes it seem. He has to come to the rescue.
Derek's decisions made sense for the book. Meaning, they were what you could mostly predict would happen for the story to continue to progress, but each successive one almost lacked enough motivation for it to really work, the last especially.
All of that said, Elkeles can write contemporary YA romances that make you happy or want to smile. Even if all of the little things don't seem to work looking back, while you read it it's a very enjoyable read. (Just, maybe, don't think too hard on it after you read it?)
Content wise, this is either closer to New Adult or is New Adult, with language
thank you to LBYR and NetGalley for my egalley for review