(Wild Cards, #1)
by Simone Elkeles
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Publication Date: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary
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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? (Goodreads)
The main characters in the story were really interesting, but Derek is the character that really made the book for me. I loved his snarky and sarcastic attitude. He has that bad boy image going on the outside, but on the inside, he’s a really sweet and caring guy. I enjoyed seeing that side of him come out more than the bad boy part. I have mixed feelings for Ashtyn. I felt really bad for her situation and all the things that she had been through, but it seems like she was beyond desperate for Derek to love her, even when she knew that he was a player. The mixed signals between the two throughout the book were really frustrating at times. There were some parts of the story where things between them were super sweet. Those are the moments I enjoyed the most.
The secondary characters in the story were hit or miss for me. Ashtyn’s family was super dysfunctional. Ashtyn’s dad didn’t seem to ever care about her, and the even towards the end, it seemed like Elkeles tried to mend the relationship between the two just for the story to wrap up nicely. I had a hard time buying it. Ashtyn’s sisters story didn’t really tie up at all, so I’m wondering if maybe we get more info on her in the next book. I didn’t really care for Derek’s grandma when we first met her, but by the end, she had me rolling and I LOVED her! The football players in the story were great; very loyal and dedicated. I can’t wait to meet them again.
As I mentioned above, I am a big football fan. That’s one thing that initially attracted me to this book. We don’t actually get to see a lot of football scenes in this story, but I am hoping we will see more as the series moves on. With all of the characters that were in the first book, this is definitely a series that I can see lasting for a while. The end of the book was super sweet, even if it felt a little rushed. I did enjoy it, however.
This book does have some mature situations in it. Some were very steamy, which is something to keep in mind when suggesting this to the younger YA crowd.
Overall; I enjoyed this book more than I expected to, despite the frustrations I had with some of the characters. While this is the first book by Elkeles that I’ve read, it definitely won’t be the last. I’m happy to see that this is going to be a series; I’m looking forward to meeting all of these characters again.
Here are the first three episodes for your viewing pleasure.