Title: Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Source: ARC from BEA
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 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.
Everything I've read by Simone Elkeles, I've loved. With Wild Cards, I had unbelievably high expectations. Not only was this book by an author I've loved in the past, it was also being compared to Friday Night Lights, one of my favourite TV shows. So yeah, I had high expectations. And though those expectations weren't totally met, Wild Cards was still a book I highly enjoyed.
Derek was perfectly happy going to boarding school in California while his military father was deployed overseas. But when he takes things one step too far and finds himself being expelled, Derek has no choice but to move to Illinois with his young stepmom and his younger step-brother. And his stepmom's father and younger sister. And Ashtyn isn't what Derek expected. The kicker on her high school's football team, Ashtyn doesn't take crap from anyone, Derek included. But unfortunate circumstances throw the two together, and Ashtyn finds herself having to rely on Derek more than she ever thought she would. And Derek isn't sure he's willing to get involved.
Not to start sounding like a broken record, but I had stupidly high expectation for Wild Cards. I have loved Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry trilogy and Paradise books. They are among some of my favourites. Add to that a comparison to Friday Night Lights, and my expectations sky-rocketed. Too the point where I may have been expecting too much from just one book. That doesn't mean I was disappointed by this story, I was actually far from being disappointed. But the whole time I was reading, I just kept wanting the story to go places that it didn't go. I enjoyed the football that was thrown in there, I enjoyed the romance between Derek and Ashtyn, even if at times it drove me a little crazy. But there were moments when I just felt like the story was going around in a circle. But then there would be other moments that would come along and make up for those circles. So I may not have been fully satisfied, but I still loved the story enough to want to read more of it in future books and to read more about some of the characters that I started getting to know in Wild Cards.
The thing about Derek and Ashtyn is that I wasn't completely satisfied with them, which is probably what led to some of dissatisfaction with the book as a whole. The sexual tension between the two of them was fantastic. It just leapt off the page and was often what kept me reading. But at the same time it felt like there wasn't a lot of character growth with them. Sure, they got from point A to point B by the end of the story, but I expected a little more. In a way, what I wanted to happen did happen, but it all happened in the last 20 pages or so of the book. I wanted more from them, and thankfully I did by the end. On the plus side, as much as I wasn't fully satisfied with Derek and Ashtyn, there were other characters that made up for it. Derek's grandmother had me shaking my head while also trying to stifle a laugh. And Derek's step-brother was completely adorable.
I enjoyed Wild Cards, I really did. But I also wanted more from it. The end of the book makes up for all those moments where I wasn't satisfied and I hoped to see more of that in future instalments. Despite my concerns with the book, I am sure there are plenty out there who will simply devour this new boo by Simone Elkeles.