by Rory Power
YA Horror, Mystery
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.
So Wilder Girls was one of my final choices for #LGBTQMonth and I also read it as part of an impromptu buddy read with the lovely blue-haired faerie Gabbie. I saw so many good things about this book and the cover is literally to die for, so I wanted to see for myself if it lived up to the hype.
Wilder Girls was definitely a timely read. Set on an island in a girl’s boarding school, a virus called the Tox starts to overwhelm their world so these girls are forced to quarantine in their school so they don’t spread it to anyone else. But when our main character, Hetty’s, best friend goes missing, she’s willing to do anything to find her, including breaking quarantine. And when she does, she finds out a lot more secrets than she could ever expect.
This was a fantastic, thrilling horror. I don’t read a lot of horror in YA so it was so lovely to dip into this book because it felt like something new. The way Power writes is magical, it’s like she conjures this eerie, gory atmosphere in the pages of the book and keeps it there for the whole way through. Her description was so good and gross at times that I found myself with goosebumps. This was definitely an immersive novel, I really felt like the setting and the description were the strength of the novel. I also loved how the whole way through I felt like I didn’t know who to trust. From the get go, we know someone is lying, so you have to sort of be suspicious of everyone. I’m not sure if that was intentional or it was just me, but I really loved that aspect of the novel.
As for the characters – Hetty, Byatt and Reese – they were some gripping characters. I loved the relationship between Hetty and Reese, the way it grow slowly but I do wish we got to see a bit more of Byatt than the parts we did. But obviously for plot purposes, I won’t say anymore.
And then the ending came along and I felt like it swept the rug out from underneath my feet. I do like a good ambiguous ending but I just felt like this was way too ambiguous. I didn’t get any sense of closure or resolution to the story and the characters’s actions didn’t reflect their own mantras throughout the novel. However, despite the ending, I did really enjoy this and I can’t wait for Power’s newest book, Burn Our Bodies Down.