Book Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

The wildly anticipated debut Wilder Girls by Rory Power is no joke to read! I mean it! The gorgeously illustrated cover is the tamest part of the whole novel.

The book follows a group of girls who have been quarantined at the Raxter School for Girls because of the Tox-- a gnarly epidemic that has caused wild and nasty mutations in the girls. Isolated on an island, the girls have no contact with the outside world except for the CDC deliveries of supplies sent across the water on rafts. The book reads from the first-person perspectives of Hetty and Byatt delivering a heart-in-the-throat thrill ride that is nothing short of disturbing and horrific. Inspired by William Golding's Lord of the Flies and focused on the nature of isolation and disease, this YA thriller is sure to land in the hands of many, many young readers who enjoy the savage and intense.

I really enjoyed reading this book; it kept me hooked from the first few pages all the way to the last. The writing felt easy-- setting up a storyline that could hold itself for sequels with enough exposition and characterization to familiarize readers without boring them with too much back story.

Hetty is a solid protagonist with traits that speak true to the struggles and strife of finding oneself as many teenagers must deal with in their lives. Add on the Tox, budding romantic interests in friends, and the struggle that your abilities make you the one to do the hard things (i.e. defending the group, shooting the gun, etc.), it is easy to see how Hetty becomes a hero-figure for readers.

Byatt is no different and provides readers with insight into what is really happening showcasing a type of irony that can only make the pages flip faster. Her pain is real and can be felt when you are reading. Likewise, she showcases traits in her actions that make the story much greater than just another plague novel. Without giving spoilers, I have to say that Rory Power has written a type of scene that I have only ever experienced once before in an extremely popular novel by Neal Shusterman.

Power does not shy away from looking at the faults in her characters as she discovers the wildness and savage nature that is inherit. Almost every character encountered has to deal with internal struggle that can be recognized by the reader without direct characterization. At times, I wasn't sure whose side to take feeling sorry for the antagonist(s) while understanding the motives of the girls. Did I mention that the Tox is gnarly?!

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend this to many different types of readers who can stomach the gore and disease the characters endure throughout the text. This is not for those who cannot handle intense (and sometimes horrific) scenes involving violence and bloodshed. However, if you brave the experience expect to be anticipating a sequel.

Enjoy the read!

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

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