Author: Rory Power
Page Count: 353
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Original Publication Date: 2019
Genre(s): Young adult, Dystopian, LGBT
“It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.”
Hetty and the other girls at Raxter School for Girls can barely remember their lives from before the Tox. For eighteen months they’ve lived alone on Raxter Island—-starving, mutated, waiting for a cure that may never arrive. No one dares go out beyond the safety of the school, where the Tox has also transformed the wildlife and the environment they live in. Hetty, now blind in one eye thanks to the Tox, survives only because of her friendship with Byatt and Reese. They keep her going. Until one day, Byatt disappears, and Hetty will stop at absolutely nothing to find her, accidentally digging up the truth about the Tox in the process.
Can we all just admit the cover is 90% the reason we bought this book? IT’S GORGEOUS.
But also, I’m just a sucker for YA dystopias/survival stories. So put together, this purchase was a no-brainer. I accidentally—no, seriously, it was really an accident, I swear!—wound up in Barnes & Noble last weekend and could not resist. No regrets.
The premise is certainly an interesting one: an all-girls school, on an island, filled with mutated girls on the edge of survival. Very Annihilation meets Lord of the Flies. But as always, there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and at the heart of it: corrupt humanity. I think the book maintains a nice balance between both environmental and human antagonists, which really gives the story variety and keeps the action going. But though there’s plenty heart-pounding suspense and gory action, the pace is somehow…slow. Not boring by any means, but just taking its time, I guess. I was expecting to sit down and gobble the story right up, but it’s much more of a slow burn experience, so don’t let that deter you from pushing ahead!
As for the characters, there’s a nice diversity in both age and race. Of course, as Raxter is an all-girls school, there’s no diversity in sex, and any variations in gender were not mentioned. There are queer romances slipped in, though don’t get your hopes up if you’re reading this for some big LGBT love story, because you will be severely disappointed as that’s not the point of the story at all.
The book is told in first-person POV, alternating between Hetty and Byatt. Mostly Hetty, though. All the characters were likable in their own way, and mostly recognizable due to their mutations. Other than that, you truly don’t learn a lot about the characters. And though they’re all likable, or maybe you pity them, you never really get close to them. I think this is the biggest downfall of Wilder Girls—you feel very distant from everything, rather than a part of the story. I cared about all the girls, but I felt too far away from them for any of their stories or deaths or choices to impact me.
Though the characterization was slightly lacking for me, the unique plot, adrenaline-inducing suspense, and overall creepiness was enough for me to enjoy this reading experience. Wilder Girls was not at all what I expected it to be, and it’s a slow but exciting ride you won’t regret taking.