By: Simone Elkeles
Published By: Walker Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Page Count: 342
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
I do love a good contemporary read every now and then to cleanse my reading palate. This was a great example, and I read it in next to no time! It was an easy plot to follow, and the characters were all pretty likeable.
In Wild Cards, we follow two characters – Ashtyn and Derek. Ashtyn is the only girl on her football team, and has been since Freshman year. She has to deal with being voted Captain over her Quarterback boyfriend, who doesn’t take it well. At the same time, Derek comes to live at her house as he is her sister’s stepson. He has issues with abandonment, but he has real heart and I loved watching him bond with the family dog and his young step brother. Derek really amused me.
Being utterly honest, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed this book as much if I wasn’t head over heels in love with Tim Riggins from Night Lights, as played by Taylor Kitsch. The minute I read Derek, Tim/Taylor popped in my mind and I guess the story kind of morphed into being about him. Then I was captivated!! The lazy, slightly unruly, cowboy with a heart role is awesome. I could hear his southern drawl, and I didn’t need much imagination to picture him at work, both on or off the field.
I found Ashtyn kind of annoying to start with, as she is so determined to give Derek a hard time and she refuses to admit her feelings for him, which are patently obvious. I loved how Derek played into that and tried his best to annoy her. Ashtyn did come through in the end though, and I was firmly rooting for her to come out tops in the man’s world that is football.
Some of the story seemed perhaps a little convenient at times; I think everyone needs a rich, pushy grandma to waltz in and fix everything with her kind hearted bossy ways. I did enjoy reading about the grandma though as her character definitely made me smile more than once. I was a little unsatisfied by her explanation (or lack of it) about her abandoning Derek’s mother.
The relationship between Derek and Ashtyn was a little “will they – won’t they”, which kept me going well enough, and the inevitable obstacle thrown their way was fair, in that it added some drama, but I could see it coming. I won’t say this challenged me in terms of plot, but I did really enjoy the ride, which was pretty much because of Derek; Ashtyn didn’t leave me with any particular after thoughts. I look forward to reading more books in the series as I really liked the ensemble of the football team, and I think there is a lot more potential drama to reveal.
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?