Review: Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

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?

Title: Wild Cards
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley
Format: e-book
Series: Yes 

Wild Cards is the story of Derek and Ashtyn. Derek, the pre-requisite bad boy that just got expelled, moves with his step mother to her childhood home. His father is deployed overseas, so his pregnant stepmother, Brandi, is responsible for him. Ashtyn is Brandi’s sister so when Brandi moves herself, her son Julian and Derek back to her father’s house, Derek and Ashtyn are constantly around each other. At first they hate each other, but over the course of the book realise their true feelings for one another.

The start of this novel was very good. The way Ashtyn and Derek meet was hilarious, even if she came across as more than a little bit psycho (Ashtyn thinks Derek is a burglar and stabs him in the foot with a pitchfork). From there on out the book went downhill and fast.

It was a very fast read; I managed to finish it in two days, probably because I just wanted it to end. I love Simone Elkeles previous books Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction. While they were a bit repetitive, they were really well written and so much fun to read. I re-read them more times than I’d care to admit! This book was nothing like them except in its repetitive story of bad boy falls for good girl.

One of my biggest problems with this story had to be Ashtyn’s boyfriend Landon. I hate when authors portray smart, sensible girls as complete idiots when it comes to boys. From the outset you can tell Landon is a total dick. Ike come on, he acts like a tool when Ashtyn is elected captain of the football team instead of him. Why would Ashtyn be with a guy like that? Are we just supposed to assume that sometime in the past he was an amazing boyfriend? I’m sorry, but you can’t just do that, assume that we’ll think he was great once upon a time.

 I also think it would have made a much better love story if Ashtyn had to choose between Derek and a genuinely nice guy. It would have shown how strong their love was if she chose Derek over someone who actually seemed to care about her and someone she actually cared about. As it is, it is quite normal that Ashtyn would choose most guys she knew, never mind Derek, over Landon. For me, it made the love story feel a bit weak.

On that note, I also think the love story as a whole was very weak. It was a bit too insta-love for my liking. It was like Ashtyn and Derek fell in love out of nowhere. The ending also felt very rushed to me. It felt like the book was only starting to get into gear, starting to actually tell the story, when suddenly it was over and everything was wrapped up with a pretty bow.

One of the few aspects I liked in this book was Derek’s relationship with his stepbrother Julian. It was so sweet and unbelievably cute. I would have loved to spend a bit more time seeing their relationship evolve.

I also really loved that Ashtyn was on the football team, and had earned enough respect from her team mates to be voted in as captain. Her attitude at football camp was also a bonus for me. Dealing with the bullying showed how truly strong she was. I really loved that.

I think this will be the end of my love affair with Simone Elkeles books unless I read an amazing synopsis. Let’s be real though, I’ll probably have grabby hands for her next book once I hear what it is about. I loved Perfect Chemistry too much to give up on this author.

I would not recommend anybody read this as their first Simone Elkeles book. Read Perfect Chemistry first and see what an amazing author she is. I’d say Simone Elkeles fans should give this book a go. I’m glad I did even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

Have you read Wild Cards? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!

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