Friday, September 6, 2013

Fangirl Friday: WILD CARDS by Simone Elkeles--A Review

Fangirl Friday is a weekly feature where I talk about upcoming books and how much I lurve them!

Love, life, and sports will never be the same. A steamy new series with a Friday Night Lights flavor, from best-selling author, Simone Elkeles

WILD CARDS by Simone Elkeles

ARC from Bloomsbury USA

Pub Date: October 1, 2013

Dannie says: Just Wild Enough

Find it on: Goodreads  Amazon    B & N     Indiebound   Facebook

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?

Full disclosure here: I am a straight up, die-hard Simone Elkeles fangirl. 

When I first started to consider publication seriously, I picked up Simone Elkeles' PERFECT CHEMISTRY and devoured it in a couple hours. Beyond just being a really good book, as a writer, it gave me hope--that maybe someday I could publish the gritty, authentic YA Contemporary stories I loved to write but thought might be too dark for publishers to take seriously. Since then, I've picked up every title she's produced. 

So I was super excited when I got the opportunity to review this ARC.

The things I first loved about Elkeles' writing are still present in WILD CARDS: Authentic dialogue, characters I can imagine existing in the real world (though Ashtyn's femininity was a bit of a stretch for me at times--given not only is she a jock, but also grew up without a mother), and a plot that goes beyond the romance. And speaking of romance, in the years that have passed since I first read PERFECT CHEMISTRY, I have yet to find a YA author who can go with Simone as far as sexytimes are concerned. She always walks the hotness line and WILD CARDS is no exception. One scene in particular was steamier than some of the New Adult titles I've read lately, which for my parent readers is something to consider when picking up this title for your teen. But nothing I would label overtly inappropriate.

Plot-wise, I've read nearly everything Elkeles has published, to the point where her books sometimes seem formulaic: girl and boy who have every reason to hate each other are put in a predicament where they are forced to interact and in the process develop a mutual, impractical, and reluctant attraction to which they inevitably surrender. But for me, Elkeles' formula works. I read WILD CARDS in one sitting, and I can't wait to see how this series unfolds.

Although it is the first in a series, and therefore you'd expect some loose ends, I felt a couple things were left unfinished. I expected and wanted more conflict when Ashtyn and Landon ended, but for me it felt like less than a blip on the plot's radar. I thought the stakes could have been higher there. And I wanted a confrontation related to the team rivalry prank and Landon taking credit, or at least for Ashtyn to discover that Derek was responsible. 

I also wanted Derek to be more reactive to his expulsion in chapter one, and I was surprised how little what happened in that chapter came into play in the rest of the book. If he had been at that school for some time, surely he would have maintained at least one of those friendships, no? Especially since he took the rap for everyone. (No spoiler alert here, kids, it happens in chapter one.) 

Short story long, WILD CARDS was a schmexy, fun read and you should absolutely check it out when it hits shelves on October 1st. Until then, if you like gritty Contemporary YA and you haven't read her entire list yet, you've got homework to do!

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