Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Title: Wild Cards
Author: Simone Elkeles
Narrator(s): Amy Rubinate, Kirby Heyborne
Series: Wild Cards, book #1
Length: 8 hrs 53 mins
Publisher: Bloomsbury/Dreamscape Media, LLC
Publication Date: October 28, 2013
Source: from publisher via Netgalley, audio borrowed from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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?

Until Wild Cards, I'd never read a Simone Elkeles book. I have the How to Ruin series on my shelf thanks to ALA one year, but I've never actually read it. And I've heard great things about her Perfect Chemistry books, so those books were added to my TBR list ages ago. Basically, this all this adds up to is a lot of build-up to a story that was a bit of a let-down.

Honestly, I borrowed this audiobook from the library because I needed a bit of a palate-cleanser after all the Heir of Fire feels last week. And it worked fine for that purpose. I originally requested to read it for review because of all the Simone Elkeles fangirl hype, but I just never got around to it. Waiting on the audio may or may not have been a good decision. I am familiar with and like both of the narrators, nothing against them. But Amy Rubinate made Ashtyn sound so breathy and whiney and just plain annoying. In this audiobook, her technique reminded me a lot of Justine Eyre's narration style, which is not a good thing. I'm not sure if I would have read the character so whiney, hence why listening instead of reading may have been a detriment to my experience with the story, at least for Ashtyn's point-of-view. On the plus side, Kirby's narration as Derek was perfect. Either I really prefer the way Elkeles writes her male characters, or Kirby just nailed it because Derek oozes the Southern charm. And I didn't find his darlin's and sugar pies nearly as annoying as I probably should have.

The story was fine, nothing that hasn't been done before. But I found myself wanting to read other iterations in hopes that I'd discover a heroine I could actually root for. In fact, I think I have Catching Jordan on my Kindle already, and I've been told that Dairy Queen is even better than that one. The girl who plays football on the boys' team is always an interesting story, to say the least. There are a lot of stereotypes and a certain amount of stigma to overcome with this type of story. Some do it well where others only try to. 

I had a friend in junior high who fully planned on playing on our school's football team when we entered high school the following year. She was a total jock, not girly in the least, and even so, the guys wouldn't accept her and she quit before ever playing a game. Every girl may not run into this, especially if she's already been playing with the boys for awhile or she's got an in with the coach or something, but I doubt it's very easy for most girls. Probably nearly impossible. I'd like more stories to showcase that aspect instead of having the players be completely accepting from the onset. And I admit that one of the characters in Wild Cards mentions that the team had a problem with Ashtyn in the beginning, so kudos for that, but I'd like to have seen it rather than being told about it.

I liked Wild Cards and I think I'll probably pick up the subsequent books in the series, even after that lame ending. But would I recommend the audio over the print version? I couldn't honestly tell you. However, if you're looking for a light contemporary read about two teens who find themselves in a weird family situation and with a light focus on football, this might be just the book you're looking for.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Simone Elkeles is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels for teens. Simone’s books have won many awards including being YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, being named to the YALSA Popular Paperbacks and Teens Top Ten lists, and added to the Illinois “Read for a Lifetime” Reading List. Simone also won the coveted RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for her book Perfect Chemistry. Simone is especially proud of the fact that the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named her Author of the Year.

Find Simone:

Website | Blog | TwitterFacebookGoodreads


  1. Her books aren't favorites of mine. Haven't read this one yet, even though I love football and I love football stories (hellooooo All Lined Up), because the Perfect Chemistry series was just so cheesy. I fear the same thing here. :/ I think the girl having a more difficult go of it would also make a more interesting story. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jen!

    1. So, what you're telling me is that I shouldn't waste my time on any more of Simone Elkeles' books? I still need to read All Lined Up, but it's Cora Carmack, so I'm sure I'll enjoy it way more than this one.

  2. That gif is funny!
    I can't stand the Kirbs and was so bummed when I saw he was narrating this one. I just don't see him pulling of a teen character since he sounds really old. I've heard Amy and liked her okay but that breathy thing drives me nuts! I hate Justine Eyre!
    I read this one and really liked it. Her Perfect Chemistry series is good but I haven't read the other series.
    It seems like it was at least okay for you. Catching Jordan is awesome and let me know if you get Dairy Queen on audio. I already have it on my wish list. (that cover is horrible though)

  3. I won a copy of this arc, but never got to it. I also have never read anything by this author, despite the hype. I did read Dairy Queen years ago, though, and did enjoy that one. I can't imagine any of the girls I went to school with trying to play football--or being accepted--although I wouldn't have anything against it, of course. I think kids are a bit more accepting these days, but I imagine in certain places it would still be completely unheard of. I do plan on picking this one up, but it sounds like I should stick with the print book. I HATE it when a narrator is all breathy and whiney. Great review!

  4. I reviewed this when it came out, and I remember having a big objection to that ending -- don't want to put a spoiler here, but in my Goodreads review I express my annoyance about that.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

  5. great review. I have read How to Ruin and her Perfect Chemistry series. I can say my favorite was How to Ruin. This particular book has been n the back burner because of the sports angle. Just sounded kind of boring for me. Thanks for the heads up on the audio.


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