Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Published: July 19, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery
Reasons I read this book:
- “the Tox” and “quarantine”
- the pretty cover
- the hype
- ᵀᴴᴱ ᴴᵞᴾᴱ
It went like this:
After “the Tox” swept across an all-girls boarding school on a New England island, the grounds were put under quarantine. The girls and staff were left to fend for themselves as they waited restlessly for the government to produce a cure. Years passed with no breakthrough, forcing the survivors—mostly students—to forge a new culture in the wake of the isolation and ruin. Through the perspectives of three students, the readers witness the psychological effects of the new order.
Wilder Girls was called the female version of literary classic, The Lord of the Flies, which I thought was a fair comparison. Just like in the latter, Wilder Girls played out the scenario of “what if a select group was faced with fatal circumstances with little hope of aid”. Rory Power showed us again that while greed takes over in the absence of law, the fear of death is an even more potent motivator of action. I was stunned by the atrocities in this book, despite reading countless of reviews warning of the story’s gruesome nature. The descriptive and sometimes poetic writing style also added an extra layer of eeriness to the story.
Even though the gore made me want to put the book down at times, the mystery surrounding the Tox halted me from doing so. I wanted to know what was the Tox, how did the school’s culture deteriorate so swiftly, and why wasn’t the government doing more to help.
While the answers to those questions were revealed, I grew attached to the main characters Hetty, Reese, and Byatt. I liked how different each girl was and how they formed a spectrum of personalities, from meek to hostile, when put side by side:
- Hetty, whose POV dominated most of the book, was shy, hesitant to do the wrong thing, and leaned heavily on Byatt for support.
- Byatt, the apparent bridge between Hetty and Reese, retained a certain degree of her carefree demeanor from before the outbreak.
- Finally, Reese, whose apathy for Hetty seemed to intensify after the outbreak, displayed a hard exterior to protect herself from getting hurt.
All of the girls had immense character development, but Hetty took first place in this area. This was probably because she had most of the spotlight, but I also thought she needed it the most 😅.
“We don’t get to choose what hurts us.”
The story kept me on edge as I desperately wanted the girls to come out of their situation, but had little clue as to how they possibly could. Meanwhile, the book made me doubtful as there were times where the characters put together parts of the mystery with little to no information. I really wanted to love the book, but those aforementioned segments of the story combined with some later random and unnecessary events made for a messy conclusion to the story.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power was a perturbing read about isolation, doubt, and survival. I’d recommend this book to fans of dystopians, female-female romance, and those who can stomach gore and violence.