Wednesday, September 11, 2013

ARC Review: Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1) by Simone Elkeles

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
288 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?

Wild Cards is another romantic YA novel by the talented Simone Elkeles. It's full of romance, drama and football. Like Elkeles other novels, this is an extremely entertaining story that readers will have no trouble enjoying. While I did, I was also very disappointed by the novel as a whole to the point where I'm conflicted on how to rate this. There could be two different ratings for this book: quality, and entertainment. Entertainment would get a rating of at least four, but the quality of Wild Cards was inadequate.

There were some really great things about this novel… and then there were some really not great things about this novel. On one hand, it's another addicting story that will keep readers hooked, unable to put down the story, or let go of its (main) characters. On the other hand, it felt incomplete. This was a romance focused story--not well rounded and detail oriented. The plot was pretty steady, but like the rest of the story, lack details where they meant the most. I learned a lot about football though.

After being expelled from his prestigious high school, Derek is moving with his step-mother and step-brother to her home town in Illinois to live with her father and sister while his father is deployed overseas. Ashtyn's life changes drastically when she is elected as the captain of her football team by her teammates. When her sister shows up unexpectedly towing a toddler and an attractive bad boy, she is determined to not let Derek affect her. But a turn of events has her in desperate need of his help, and she may just find what she's been missing.

I could not for the life of my figure out why, after finishing Wild Cards, I was so unsatisfied. Until I spent almost two hours laying in bed thinking it over and I came to the conclusion that the story lacked so much detail that it was making me angry. So much was missing from the story that it didn't feel like it was done. Plus everything we do know about the story was shoved into the readers' faces, rather than showed to us over time. I know that this is going to be a sequel, but I'm sure that the author plans to go outside the couple introduced in this story and never put focus on Ashtyn, Derek, or their histories (including the background of their families) again. Frustration. Frustration. Frustration.

There wasn't enough background on the minor characters to say that they added anything to the story, even those very close to Derek and Ashtyn. I felt disconnected from the story because of the lack of character solidity. If I had to say anything, I'd say that I wasn't a huge fan of the characters. Mostly because I didn't really feel like I knew them--beyond Derek and Ashtyn and even my knowledge of the main characters was pretty sketchy. The minor characters seemed to be brought in only to help the protagonists and then they were left out to gather dust. They were extremely one-dimensional with roles that weren't potent enough to meet their mark. Not that the main characters did much for me either. Ashtyn annoyed me more than I can say, and while I liked Derek, some of his actions and the way he spoke to Ashtyn about her place on the football team really, really pissed me off. 

It's gotten to the point where I am extremely frustrated by fact that this wasn't able to meet its full potential. This could've been a super great novel, but for me at least, it only ended up as a pretty good book. I'm not very enthusiastic about it any more and that's pretty upsetting because I was so excited to start it. Wild Cards was a predictable, typical romance with a football twist that didn't meet my high expectations. 
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.


  1. oh i completely feel your pain. Romance novels still need foundation. The romance alone can't sustain the book. The relationship dynamic though sounds like it'll create a ton of angst that I'm looking forward to. However the lack of depth outside the main characters and also their histories is a little bit discouraging.

    great review,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  2. Boo. This was going to be my first Simone Elkeles book, but I'm moving it down the pile in favor of better books since I haven't seen any fantastic reviews for it. Sorry it was so disappointing.


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