Title: Wild Cards
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers on October 1st 2013
Format: Hardcover, 342 pages
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 played an (awesome!) prank at graduation and ended up getting kicked out of his exclusive private school as a result. Since his dad’s away on deployment, his young stepmother takes Derek and moves back home with her father and younger sister. The younger sister just happens to be a cute teenage football all-star who drives Derek nuts.
I liked both of the main characters, they were fully fleshed-out, though Derek was by far my favorite. I’m not sure why, but Ashtyn seemed to grate on my nerves a bit. Derek was a cutie, though he had some attitude. I felt sorry for him; missing his father, getting kicked out of school and having to move to a new place all at the same time. Ashtyn had the advantage, she was on her home turf. Her boyfriend didn’t seem like a very good person. He was cute, popular and a good ball player, but he just didn’t seem very nice, even before he turned into a real ass.
Derek and Ashtyn had chemistry and it was delicious, but it took too long for them to finally get together. By the time it happened, I felt like the chemistry was gone and I was barely interested in them as a couple anymore. I liked the snarky attitudes they both had, I find that sort of thing highly entertaining.
I kind of look at this book as split into two halves: the first half had no real purpose, other than introducing us to Derek and Ashtyn and having them not get along. More “stuff” happened in the second half of the book, but it seemed to be missing the spark or personality that the first half had. It also felt rushed; the first half was slow and steady, but the second half zoomed to the conclusion. (Also of note, I spotted at least three typos in the last third of the book.)
Speaking of the conclusion, I was disappointed. Everything was solved nice and neat, and a little too quick. One of the characters was acting like a complete douchcanoe throughout the entire story, then simply turned into a nice (even helpful) person with no warning or reasoning.
Simone Elkeles can definitely write, and she perfectly captures the angst and everyday drama that teens experience. One of her specialties is the switching point of views, between the male and female characters, and she does a fabulous job of it. I tend to like a female main character, just because I can relate to a female better than a male, but Simone makes it easy to get in the male’s head and appreciate their point of view.
Great first half and a so-so second half equal a 3-owl read. I disliked some parts but found it overall enjoyable.
Simone was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, where she still lives today. Simone went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received her Bachelor’s of Science there in Psychology in 1992. She continued her education at Loyola University-Chicago where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees.
She loves animals (she has two dogs – a labradoodle and a German Shepherd), kids (she also has two of those) and her family. In her spare time she’s the Hockey Mom for her kids hockey teams and is an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors. (She also loves sushi, which you can probably tell by reading her books.) Simone writes about teens because she was a teen in the 80’s (when spiked hair and blue eye shadow were “rad”) and she loves writing about those exciting teen relationships and romances.