Author: Simone Elkeles
Series: Wild Cards #1
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
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?
First Sentence: Getting caught wasn’t part of the plan.
The good news: Wild Cards was good.
The bad news: It wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.
Let me explain. Reading Perfect Chemistry is a guilty pleasure of mine. I loved that book right from the very first page. However, as I continued on with Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry series, I noticed one very obvious problem that I’m sure tons of other people have noticed: the Perfect Chemistry series pretty much have different characters, but with basically the same plot. When I heard that Simone Elkeles was starting a new series, Wild Cards, I was beyond excited, but also a little wary. Will her Wild Cards series have the same problem as her Perfect Chemistry series? Should I even get my hopes up?
“Stop or I’m calling the police!” demands a girl’s voice from behind me. (ARC 18)
Here’s the thing: don’t read the book summary if you haven’t already. I’m serious, skip it. There’s a spoiler in there that covered one-third of the entire book. That spoiler had me really nervous because I just knew it was going to happen, but at the same time, I didn’t know when it was going to happen, and I also knew that when it happens, all hell will break loose. Each page was a nerve-racking moment until I reached that specific part, so trust me, you don’t want that to happen to you.
Before I started Wild Cards, I was admittingly worried about the book. I’ve heard from many of my fellow trusted book bloggers that Wild Cards had a huge case of insta-hate/insta-love, so I lowered my expectations before going into the book. I shouldn’t have worried. After reading and finishing Wild Cards, I have to say that I agree, Wild Cards does have insta-hate and insta-lust (I personally don’t think it’s insta-love), but it didn’t bother me at all. Let me tell you why: If a new guy arrives and moves into the house I’m living in without another moment’s notice, that’s my age as well, well, I will insta-hate him too, especially if he steals all the attention and family love away from me. And, well, if he’s also ultra-hot, you can definitely expect some insta-lust to happen because hey, you’re living with him 24/7 and will be seeing him every single day, sometimes with his shirt off. Lust definitely develops after that.
“Don’t be afraid of her,” Derek tells Julian. “Your aunt’s not mean. She’s just crazy.” (ARC 25)
Wild Cards is told from two different characters’ point of view: Ashtyn and Derek. I don’t know about you, but I love it when contemporaries and romances are told from two different points of view: the main character and the love interest. (I always love peeking into a guy’s brain. I need to know more about how their brain works.)
Ashtyn, one of the main characters, was one annoying girl. She was really emotional, and believe me, I’m pretty emotional myself. Ashtyn cried over a not-so-sad letter (but again, that’s just my opinion that the letter wasn’t sad at all), destroyed an object that could probably be sold for like $500+ on ebay just because the guy who gave her that object rejected her not so subtly, and talks/lashes out without thinking it through. I was shaking my head at Ashtyn’s horrible attitude throughout the book. To make matters worse, Ashtyn is also totally clueless. Yeah, definitely not a good combination.
Now onto the romance. At first, I was way into the book – the way Ashtyn and Derek met was just too cute to not swoon over. However, as I read on, things dulled down, by a lot. The main reason why things dulled down is because Simone Elkeles did a lot of telling instead of showing with the romance in Wild Cards. Instead of telling us that Derek felt a lot of chemistry with Ashtyn and vice versa, she can show us that like she sometimes did: Derek thinking about the shape of Ashtyn’s lips, Ashtyn admiring Derek’s body, etc. Unlike the Perfect Chemistry series, Ashtyn and Derek’s romance just didn’t jump out at me. Ashtyn and Derek’s romance just don’t stand out with the other amazing romance couples I have read about.
“Let’s just get one thing straight, Cowboy.” She eyes my collection of boots lined up in the corner. “You might be used to getting girls to rub your feet or do whatever you want by flashing that smile or showing your six-pack, but it’s not gonna work with me.” (ARC 27)
Wild Cards reminded me of Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. Both of the two books have the struggling female football player trying to go big aspect. Both of them features female characters that are struggling to be the best football player that there can ever be, with some huge obstacles in the way, starting with their gender. Too bad Catching Jordan doesn’t have the dual character point of view Wild Cards does though because I’ll love to get into Sam Henry’s mind like how I was able to get into Derek’s mind.
As a final note, I don’t know if the finished copy of Wild Cards has this, but the ARC of Wild Cards had tons of random underlining. Some of them made sense (some of the underlining were used to emphasize a certain point/word) while sometimes, it didn’t make sense at all (why do you need to underline a period? I still don’t get that). I’m too lazy to check my finished copy to see if it has the same problem, but I’m suspecting that it probably doesn’t have the same problem.
Overall, I’m still kind of, sort of, a Simone Elkeles fan. Just like Jennifer Echols, I love their first books, but their latest books just aren’t doing it for me. As for whether or not I’ll recommend this book, I think dedicated Simone Elkeles fans will absolutely love Wild Cards, while others will just plain old either like it or not like it. It’s a toss-up.