Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: Wild Cards

WILD CARDS
Wild Cards #1
Simone Elkeles
Contemporary Young Adult
342 pages
Walker Books for Young Readers
Available now
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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?


MY THOUGHTS
Wild Cards is somewhat of a tricky read; one that's fast, entertaining and provides a steamy moment or two, but if we attempt to slow our reading down and examine the characters more closely, we find a few niggling flaws that keep this romance from making its way onto our list of favorites. Ms. Elkeles is indisputably a wonderful storyteller capable of writing deeply moving characters and profoundly affecting books, and while Wild Cards teases us with a bit of drama and more than a little tension between Derek and Ashtyn, it doesn't hit as hard as some of her previous stories, leaving us more on the outside looking in with these two than we wish to be.

Ashtyn is a bit of a frustrating young woman in the beginning, her continued dislike of Derek after their initial unfortunate meeting coming off as somewhat irrational–her need to poke and prod him seeming more juvenile than anything else–leaving us to wonder how these two are ever going to pair up. In all fairness to Ashtyn, Derek deliberately pushes her buttons to incite a reaction, but for some reason his button-pushing feels more playful than hers does, making us far more hesitant to try and reach out and connect to her than Derek (to whom we pretty much hand our hearts over instantaneously). Once we hit the halfway mark though and Ashtyn finally admits her feelings for Derek to herself rather than trying uselessly to deny them, their relationship begins to feel more genuine, an emotional connection forming and drawing us in as we will one of the two of them to open their mouths and try their hand at honesty rather than game-playing.

Derek, as mentioned previously, enjoys getting a rise out of Ashtyn and provokes her at every opportunity, but it's still clear to us from the very beginning that Ashtyn is someone he cares for even if he would never admit it aloud, always watching out for her and working behind the scenes to right any wrongs done unto her. He's lovable without always being likable however, and there are certainly a few times when our fingers reach up into our hair and itch with the need to pull, his miscommunications with Ashtyn and the both intentional and unintentional emotional cuts he delivers at times walking the very fine line between delicious tension and irritating angst, but overall he's a young man we're absolutely rooting for to win the girl.

The romance between these two has a myriad of highs and lows to make Wild Cards a bumpy ride, and the family dynamic between Ashtyn and Derek's relatives only adds stones to an already rocky road. Derek's grandmother is mentioned on several occasions as being someone he has no desire to spend time with and who hasn't shown any interest in him since his mother died, but when she finally enters the picture a little over halfway through, she turns out to be an absolute riot. She's a delightful addition to the story, making us wonder why she was made out to be such a nightmare in the beginning. The relationships between Ashtyn and both her sister and father also could have been expanded upon as there's infinite potential there for those of us who like to dive right into the middle of something messy and see what we can find, but things remain right on the surface with them throughout. 


Despite the flaws though, Wild Cards is a fun read and the romance in the second half is far more satisfying than in the first, leaving us with a big dopey grin on our faces and a strong desire to continue the series in order to discover which other player on Ashtyn's team we're going to have the chance to get to know better.

Rating: 3.5/5
 

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This book was given to me by the publisher at BEA free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

48 comments:

  1. Just like you many people had some problems with the book. I personally loved the chemistry and dynamics between the two and I especially loved their bickering all the time :) But I get your point and sometimes this can be a little annoying ...

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    1. I liked the bickering on his side, I didn't feel like she was being as cute with it, her buttong-pushing seemed harsher to me and that's what got old. You know I loved Derek though!

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  2. I enjoyed this as well, but I also had some issues with it. I liked Derik more than Ashtyn. Especially since he seemed to be more of a joker and more fun - most of the time.

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    1. I definitely liked Derek more as well, I had some trouble with Ashtyn.

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  3. And I still have not read a book by her

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    1. I really loved Perfect Chemistry, I definitely recommend starting there if you want to give her a try!

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  4. I think I've read quite a few reviews where the characters were slightly annoying at times. But I'm glad that despite a few road bumps along the way you were left with a big smile on your face by the end. I have this book coming up pretty soon, so thanks for the heads up about some of the issues you had. Another great review Jenny!

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    1. The romance ended up much cuter than it started, so I'm going to continue the series in the hopes each book gets better! Looking forward to your thoughts on it Jasprit.

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  5. Glad you liked this, Jenny! I agree with the romance having myriad of highs and lows, and also with the grandma. She's probably the most likable snob grandma ever!

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    1. I LOVED his grandma! I have no idea why she was made out to be a villain in the beginning. She was hilarious:)

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  6. I wasn't a fan of Perfect Chemistry and I'm not sure if this is going to work for me, but I'm glad to see you enjoyed it despite a few flaws. Great review, Jenny!(:

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    1. I thought Perfect Chemistry was leaps and bounds ahead of this book, so if you weren't a fan of that one I would say this is not going to be the book for you Keertana!

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  7. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this book overall, Jenny. I personally couldn't get past how annoying and frustrating the characters were. Plus, I honestly didn't feel much of the romance. I also wanted more of the sports element.
    Anyways, I do agree about the grandmother. She was a great character.
    Lovely review, Jenny.

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    1. I found Ashytn to be really frustrating at times Nick. I thought their romance ended well and I was satisfied, but it was a tedious journey for sure.

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  8. I usually like when love interests push each others' buttons but it has to be done correctly, otherwise it does come off as childish. STILL haven't read this one...I need a week off just to read. Though, that's not happening anytime soon.

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    1. Exactly. I'm a huge fan of antagonistic relationships, but in this case there was just no real reason for it so I didn't understand why there were at each other's throats all the time.

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  9. This was filled with highs and lows. I was annoyed with Ashtyn and then Dereck at different times and then the story went kind of somewhere else about 3/4s in if I remember correctly. Still, parts were enjoyable. I think I gave it the same rating or maybe I was feeling generous and gave it a 4. Wonderful review, Jenny. :)

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    1. I did like their romance in the end, that's why I gave it a 3.5, the road to get there though could be painful at times. Derek's grandma was the highlight for me though, I just loved her!

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  10. Oooh. It's one of those read-to-escape-but-not-think-too-much-about books.

    Those are perfect in the right moment. :)

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    1. It's definitely a short and easy read Amanda! Just don't expect too much from it:)

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  11. You know how much I coveted this book at BEA - I think everyone knew. I was so insanely disappointed by it. Hopefully the next book in the series is better.

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    1. I do know. We had epic plans to make sure one of us was in the line to get this book for you:) It was disappointing for me as well, but fingers crossed the next book blows it away!

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  12. I think we had similar feelings on this one, Jenny. I really had just hoped for so much more from the characters - and more football. That basically just felt like backstory. Thanks for your beautiful honest take on it! :)

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    1. Yes to both. It was a short book too, so I feel like she had room to add in some of those layers I was hoping for.

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  13. I do agree that this one had a few issues but I still really loved it! I am glad that while you maybe didn't love it, you still really enjoyed this one Jenny. :) Great review as always!! :D

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    1. I'm glad you loved it Ali! Despite some of my issues with it, I still enjoyed reading it as I think I always will with Simone's books. I just wanted a bit more from it:)

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  14. I really wished that the deeper aspects of this book were addressed. This seems like a running tread with the author's other books that I've read by her. I'm still looking forward to the steamy romance but will lower my bar of expectations.

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    1. That was probably part of my problem Rummanah, I had really high expectations going in, and it just wasn't nearly as good as Perfect Chemistry (it's the only one I've read) for me. Still, there were a lot of things to like, so I'll be interested to see what you think!

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  15. Jenny, I really wish this had more depth and less bumps. I think I actually have this on my Nook, but I am in no hurry to read it. At least I know going in the author can weave a tale, but the characters and drama make get on my nerves..LOL Wonderful review!

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    1. I could have done with less drama on Ashtyn's part. I liked Derek's teasing, it seemed like it was all in good fun, but Ashtyn's had more of an edge to it which I didn't really care for. She grew on me by the end though:)

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  16. It's too bad Ashtyn was so hard to like for much of the novel. It seems like Derek and his granny really steal the show here. I love novels that feature cooky relatives!

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    1. His grandma was my favorite part! I didn't understand why she was made out to be awful, because she was fabulous from the moment she stepped onto the page:)

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  17. I think I'd love to see how the family relationships play out in this book, but I'm not really interested in the romance based on all the reviews I've seen. I'm sorry you didn't really dig the pairing that much, but 3.5 is a pretty decent rating so I'm glad you enjoyed it in general:)

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    1. It was a middle of the road read for me for sure Siiri. I liked some things, had trouble with others, but I was pleased with the end so I'm willing to give book 2 a try!

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  18. I think I'd like Derek, but I'm concerned I'll be pretty annoyed with Ashtyn, after reading your review and others who share your reservations about her. I'm glad to hear that the second half is better than the first though, and that it left you smiling. If it were any other way, I might not even try this one. As it is I'm curious enough to give it a go. Wonderful review Jenny!

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  19. I enjoyed this one too, but you are right, the first half was better than the second. I was a bit disappointed in this one. After hearing so much about her, I think I was expecting something really different. Otherwise predictable doesn't bother me.

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  20. I totally agree, I was expecting so much more from my first Elkes read, but the romance is a bit of a let down and there was so much that could have been expanded on such as the relationship between Ashytn and her father. It needed more breadth and depth for me.

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  21. I loved Perfect Chemistry and I had heard that this book wasn't as addicting. The second half sounds pretty good though, so I still may give it a try. Plus, the grandmother sounds awesome....I love grandparents in YA literature and I wish there were more! Great review as always, Jenny!

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  22. Honestly I don't think I'll ever read this one (or at least not any time soon), it does sound interesting but I have had my share of this kind of books for now. Anyhow I'm glad you enjoyed this one overall. Great review, Jenny :)

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  23. I've heard a lot of mixed things about this one but I have a copy so I'll probably read it at some point. It's too bad it didn't wow a little more, but I'm glad it was still enjoyable.

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  24. I'm trying to find that balance between characters hating each other and instalove, and it's hard! But I think I would really like this book. I HAVE to read Perfect Chemistry! I can't believe I haven't read this author yet.

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  25. I agree with your review completely, Jenny! I gave this one the same rating, so I didn't actually write anything about it on my blog. Funny that you mention the grandmother! I also really liked the fun her character brought to the story. I'd love to have someone like her around. This wasn't a heart-stopping romance for me, but I did have fun with it overall. Great review as always. :)

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  26. Great review. I wasn't totally in love with this book either, even though I usually love her books. And my review also mentioned Grandma! who I thought was the best character in the book! A fun book and of course I'll read the next one!

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  27. Like you , I had a hard time warming up to Ashtyn, at times she was fun and playful, but the other, she was very in-your-business and pushy. I did like her by the end but initial hesitation was what made this book a slightly above average read. Though I LOVED Derek! My favorite part was when he played that game with that boyfriend of Ashtyn's (Great, I can't even remember any name! lol) I can't wait to find out who's gonna be next! Great review, Jenny!

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  28. Love your thoughts on this one!! I really liked it too for the fun of it but thought it lacked depth.....It felt like an 80's movie to me...Lol...

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  29. I got this book for my birthday and still have not read it. I need to though.

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  30. This was my first Elkeles and I had a lot of fun with it-I'm really excited to continue the series and hope for more football in the books to come!

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  31. I'm still looking forward to this one. I loved her last series. I don't understand the automatic dislike when two people meet and like each other. Especially when it's continued. It happens so much I expect it. But it's a tired scenario.

    Love your review!

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