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Review: Wild Cards

September 27, 2013

Title: Wild Cards
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Format: eGalley

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?—via Goodreads

On the outset, Wild Cards seems like it’d be right up my alley—high school football, a strong female character, HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL.

And the fact that it was pitched as the fictionalized YA version of (the book/movie/TV series) Friday Night Lights did not hurt one bit.

I was excited to tear into this one.

But then, it just didn’t really work for me. There are plot points in this that felt very disjointed—almost as if these were two entirely different books that were shoved together and deemed to be good enough. And there are some really interesting character and family dynamics presented in this that weren’t as fully explored and developed as I’d hoped at the outset.

However, there are some really great things and idea going on in this book. I loved Ashtyn—she’s a girl who plays football. She’s feminine and strong and popular and has really great female friends, and Elkeles never shies away from the topic of how weird it is to be the only girl on the football team, and how that influences her relationships with literally everyone in her life. Having a female protagonist like Ashtyn is a ballsy move and I loved reading her.

But unfortunately, she was really the only thing I loved about this. Overall, the story and character relationships felt too messy and, at times, too convenient. The pacing to the end of the book was very rush and when I finished the book it was with my brow furrowed and lips quirked to one side. Wild Cards is a valiant attempt at a book that I would love to read, but not quite the story I hoped it would be.

Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)

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