Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1), by Simone Elkeles
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Publication: September 24, 2013, by Bloomsbury Juvenile US
Format: Hardcover Edition (borrowed)
Goodreads Summary: 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?
"I might not make it past thirty-five, the age my mom was when she died. Right now, as I look across the table at the girl who could very well be the girl of my dreams, I know I won't marry her. I'm going to let someone else be her Irving, someone who'll be able to sit across from her sixty years from now and look into her eyes as if his would have been a horrible existence if not for her."
I've read books from Simone Elkeles before, and I wasn't left disappointed. Not even close. I always have high-expectations for a good contemporary-romance, and Simone just blasts it and makes it even better than what I wish a good book that's in that genre to be. This book was amazing, SPECTACULAR. I am left speechless because of the romance that Simone created and the beautiful characters.
First things first: I feel so forever alone.
Ashtyn and Derek had such an amazing relationship. I never expected something like that to sprout out of this book, but it did and I have no regrets and no doubts that this was one of my utterly most favourite romance books, ever. Simone Elkeles just aced it and made it beautiful all throughout. It's so difficult to explain how gorgeous their romance was because I've never read about anything like that before. Can I just stand and say that Derektyn has won the Best YA Couple award for this month in my standings?
Like I feel so alone when thinking about the perfect chemistry that they had. (I am not relating to Simone's other book in any way.) It was perfect because there was no insta-love. At first, the two of them loathed each other, and by the end, they found the perfect chemistry between them and ended up having such a strong hunger and would do anything for each other.
The romance was the thing that touched me the most, so that's why I spoke about it first. Let's talk about what it was really about. Derek is expelled from his prestigious boarding school after taking part in a horrifying prank that he and his friends took part in. But Derek was the only one who took the credit, and meanwhile his friends got to stay for their senior years. His father is in the middle of the ocean somewhere in a submarine, saving lives, and all who he has left is his stepmother, Brandi, who takes him and his 5 year old half-brother, Julian, to her home in Chicago, where her dad and little sister still live. At first, Derek doesn't want to go, but he realizes that he has no other choice. There, he meets Brandi's sister, Ashtyn in front of a shed. She tries to "stab" him because she thinks that he's some thug who's trying to vandalize her house because she's a female and is the captain of the football team at school. When she finds out that Derek is not who he seems to be, she panics and everything changes. Derek is first like a protective older brother, who is hinting that her boyfriend Landon, is messing around with her and is cheating on her. She doesn't believe him at first, but then finds out that he was right the whole time. They both begin to develop feelings for each other, and they soon can't hide it. They both realize that it's too strong to hide and they need to play with wild cards--each other.
The one thing that bothered me with this book was that the concept and plot was a little too similar to Catching Jordan, by Miranda Kenneally. I don't know which one was released first and which one can take credit to the girl-playing-football-and-falls-in-love-with-another-player idea, but it was a little too similar. But either way, I love that concept, so I'm not going to let it bicker at me too much.
The romance was a huge part of the concept and plot here, so if you're not in for a romance read and are looking for more of a plot, then stay away from this book. I am a huge sucker for romance, so this is just perfection to me. Although there are some tweaks and spins of coming-of-age moments, the romance really overtook everything, and I loved that as well. So if you like a sappy but edgy romance, then this is for you, as long as you can handle a happily-ever-after ending.
The plot was very well planned out and amazingly written. Simone Elkeles is an author who writes books that are so captivating and give you the feel that you cannot put it down until it's all over, and then you just want something more from her. I very much appreciate the fact that there's going to be a sequel for this book. :) There weren't any moments when I was bored or disliking something that was written. I'd give a 5 star rating for the plot and writing.
The cover could've had a better job on, I must say. It did relate to the story, but it's cheesy. More spunk should've been added to make it more captivating to the audience and readers.
I loved the characters so dearly much. But in fact, I felt a dear connection to Ashtyn. She was a very real character whose traits are very much like mine and I feel her. She was getting over the fact that her ex-boyfriend was betraying her and with someone else. Her mom and sister both left her and she was all alone with her father, who didn't support the fact that she played football. He never came to watch her games. She never really fell in love, and as she watches her best friend, Monika, with her soulmate, it aches Ashtyn's heart. When she met Derek, he changed her and loved her and showed her that he's all she needs to be happy. Simone Elkeles shows us that people can make you happy, without needing anything else. Ashtyn's voice felt real, and wanting. She was calling for us to help her and read her story throughout the whole book.
Derek was also an absolute favourite. First of all, he's hot, second of all, he's hot, and third of all, well, you get the idea. I loved him to death, and readers can definitely incorporate a relationship with his realistic qualities as well. If you're looking for an innocent but tough adorable male protagonist in a book, then pick this one up.
We all saw the ending coming, but it was beautiful at the same time. Having a happily-ever-after ending might be disturbing in some senses (or in some books), but it fit to have that in this one. But there's going to be a sequel, and maybe (just maybe) Simone Elkeles will put a plot twist and will change everything.
I love you, Wild Cards, and thank you for making my day.