Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Content Warnings: graphic violence, body horror, gore, on page character death, parental death, animal death, self harm, food scarcity, starvation, emesis, chemical gassing, suicide and suicidal ideation, non-consensual medical treatment
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It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
When it comes to Wilder Girls, I’ve found myself wondering if I read the same book everybody else has. It’s been several months of seeing nothing but high praises for this debut novel, but I just didn’t get the same things out of it that the majority of readers seem to have. Throughout my review, though it won’t be entirely positive, my goal isn’t to necessarily dissuade you from picking Wilder Girls up. There are some really great and important themes throughout the story, and so many people are loving everything about this book, but I still feel it’s important to share my honest thoughts.
I never felt a deep connection to any of the characters. This tends to happen for me when the author throws the reader right into the action without giving any backstory first, and that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t know these girls before everything started going horribly wrong for them which made it difficult for me to establish an emotional connection. I did love all of their names, though, especially Byatt. So they had that going for them.
The creepiness factor was definitely present. There were several instances, especially in the beginning, where I had such a huge unsettling feeling while reading about what the Tox was doing to these girl’s bodies. Another thing Rory Power did exceptionally well was her world building. She made everything so real which is what really helped make everything so horrific.
While I loved the world building, I didn’t necessarily enjoy Power’s writing style. This was a very narrative heavy story and for me personally, it was just too much. I got tired of being told what was happening and wished the characters had done more showing and talking about things instead. It made the novel drag on so slowly, and honestly, if I hadn’t needed to write a review I probably would have chosen to not finish it.
The last thing that bothered me was the ending, which was practically nonexistent. It was so abrupt and out of nowhere that I’m wondering if my ARC is somehow maybe missing a chapter or something? So many questions I have were never answered and it seemed like the characters were still in the middle of some action. Probably the author was going for an open-ended you decide what happens type thing and those just don’t work for me.
If Wilder Girls sounds like something you would enjoy then I definitely recommend giving it a go. Rory Power has given us queer characters, feminist themes, and some really great horror. I wish I could say I enjoyed it more, but I’m so glad that so many other people are loving it.
A digital ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.