Wild Cards – Simone Elkeles

Wild CardsTitle: Wild Cards
Series: Wild Cards, #1
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published: Walker Books for Young Readers, October 2013
Source: bought a copy
Links: [goodreads][amazon.com][the book depository]

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?

With a fairly predictable plot, I shouldn’t find Wild Cards  appealing.  But when almost every character experience some situation that leads to changes in their conscience, the level of openness or willingness to uphold integrity becomes an interesting theme that fascinates me.  I wouldn’t say the story is just about moral struggles (because it is not) but if you like to subtly observe changes in human behavior, you may find this an exceptionally enjoyable story to indulge.

Personally, I particularly like the part about people learning to open up to give and receive love.  Both Derek and Ashtyn have their inner obstacles to stop themselves from truly feeling what they want but instead of finding their reluctance annoying, I learn to drop my prejudice and make room to empathize and view their issues through their perspectives.   Derek seems too noble to be real – he cares about others too too much that it hurts to see him suffer.  Ashtyn doesn’t dare to desire much but her determination to never give up really helps to bring out the best in people.  It’s through their hesitation and abandonment that I start to understand why they guard their hearts in their kind of warped protective sense.

Will I like the story better if there is no instant attraction between Derek and Ashtyn?  I guess perhaps but given the circumstances, I wouldn’t say the attraction seemed forced or implausible.  It may seem weird to say this but I actually like the predictability of the plot.  Why?  Because it gives me comfort knowing how things will turn out in the end.   While it’s somewhat disturbing to see betrayal and bullying happened in the story, the focus is never fixated on righting the wrongs but more about making the choice to cherish what’s present in the moment.  And it surely doesn’t hurt that Derek happens to have a grandmother who may appear controlling but end up offering just the perfect medley to soothe the angst and amp up the joy!

I had a pleasant time reading Wild Cards  and I wonder what personal challenges the characters may face as the series progresses.  Hopefully we’ll see more of Derek and the paternal side of his family in the next book.


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  1. Sometimes predictability isn’t always a bad thing and this sounds like just that case. I’m happy that you liked it. Great review!
    Jenea @ Books Live Forever recently posted..Review for Fireblood (Fireblood #1) by Trisha Wolfe

  2. I agree, this one was still pretty enjoyable despite it having instant love.

    Lovely review, hun! <33
    Melanie (YA Midnight Reads) recently posted..Review: See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne

  3. I’ve been curious about this book for some time now. Glad to see you liked it a bit. The characters sound interesting too. Good review.
    Shane @ Itching for Books recently posted..Feature and Follow #70

  4. I had a lot of fun reading this too, Henrietta. Wonderful review! :)
    Rachel @The Readers Den recently posted..End of Year Book Survey.

  5. I’m glad that you were able to enjoy this one, despite its predictable plot! I can’t say that I’m surprised when you say the predictability of the plot actually enhanced your reading, because sometimes when I read contemps, all I want is something familiar. Besides, mostly for me, contemp is all about character growth. So, it’s great to see that you really loved seeing the characters grow and change, and finally beat their inner obstacles to let others in. I love seeing that slow growth in characters! I’m glad at least this romance isn’t insta-love. I can deal with insta-attraction, because that’s realistic. Insta-love, however is not, so it’s nice to see that’s not the case here. =)

    Lovely review, Henrietta! <3
    Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life recently posted..The Teen Talks (11): What Makes a Book Top Ten Worthy?

  6. Interesting read! I haven’t read any Simone Elkeles books but this sounds great! Great review, dear!
    – Farah
    Farah recently posted..Stacking The Shelves (17) – All the Review Books

  7. I agree that the plot is quite predictable, and you’re right, that doesn’t feel like a huge flaw here. It IS oddly comforting knowing how everything will wrap up. I enjoyed this one overall, but it wasn’t very memorable for me. I liked the characters, though. I’m glad you had a pleasant time reading this. Lovely review, Henrietta! :)
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted..The Best of Books in 2013: The Wrap-Up Post

  8. I’m so happy to hear this story worked for you! I think this is the first review I’ve read that makes me want to pick this one up. I also don’t mind predictability if there is strong character growth or something capturing my emotions. Then I don’t mind knowing where I’m headed so much. It sounds like I need to put this book back in my TBR pile and give Ashtyn and Derek a chance. Lovely review!

  9. I LOVE simone Elkeles and this was no exception! Glad to see you liked it too :)
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted..Review: White Hot Kiss by JLA!

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