Monday 28 October 2019

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Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Published: 9th July 2019 | Publisher: Delecorte Press | Cover Designer: Regina Flath | Cover Art: Aykut AydoÄźdu| Source: Won in a giveaway.
Rory Power's Website

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.
From Goodreads.

Book Depository | Wordery | Goodreads

Rep: Lesbian protagonist/narrator, lesbian main character, secondary black character.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power was one of my most anticipated reads on 2019, but while I really enjoyed it, it wasn't as amazing as I expected it to be.

On an island off the coast of Maine is Raxter School for Girls. A year and a half ago, everyone on Raxter - the girls, the teachers, even the animals in the woods surrounding the school - contracted a deadly virus, known as the Tox. All but two of the teachers died, as did a number of the students, but everyone else was changed. Hetty's eye fused shut and she can feel something growing behind it. Byatt grew a second spine that pierced through the skin of her back. One of Reese's hands turned a scaled silver, with razor sharp nails, with her blonde hair letting off it's own glow. All the other girls have mutated as well. They've been in quarantine, while the CDC and the Navy try to work on a cure. Meanwhile, they are starving, changing each season as the virus flares, and dying. Trying to survive while the animals outside become monsters. That is until after Byatt has a flare up - one that leaves makes her voice excruciatingly painful to all who hear it, including herself - disappears after being taken to the infirmary. Hetty cannot sit back and do nothing when her best friend is missing, and is determined to find her, along with the help of Reese. She breaks quarantine, and steps outside the gate - only to discover there's more to what's happening to them at Raxter than they realised.

Wilder Girls is seriously weird, but in the best possible way. It's freaky and strange and quite graphic, but deliciously so. The things the Tox has done to the girls is just unbelievable, and you can't help hurting for them as they change and wait for a cure. However, the first third of the book was quite slow. Nothing major actually happens. I guess it's mainly world building, showing us the life of the girls now as we're filled in on all that's happened, but world building can be shown while things are happening, you know? So it took a while to really get going. But when it does, mate, the weirdness is dialled right up. Power's imagination is incredible, and Wilder Girls is so disturbing. I'm not going to give away spoilers, but the things discovered, it's so messed up, and really gives off major Stranger Things vibes, in regards to just how strange things get. It would definitely make for a great movie or TV show.

However you may have noticed I've not said it was scary or creepy, and that's because it's not. It's supposed to be, but it just isn't. Power's writing is beautiful and poetic, while not straying into purple prose, but there was no scary or creepy atmosphere. Even when things are as messed up as they can be, I was thinking to myself, "What they hell?! But also, I should be scared right now, and I'm not." I really felt there was a massive lack in regards to atmosphere, which was pretty disappointing.

But I did love the feminist side of things. The allegory of girls bodies changing at puberty, and how that can be scary for the girls, but how the world has issues with women's bodies, and demonises them for what they do. And how Byatt was unable to speak - she has a voice, but not one that will be heard; they want her to keep quiet, because what she has to say will only lead to trouble. She is silenced. And I loved the relationships between the three main characters, Hetty, Byatt and Reese, but also the other relationships we see as well. People clinging to each other when they have almost nothing else. The codependency that brings. Hetty cannot cope without Byatt. Yes, she's gay, but she's into Reese, not Byatt, but Byatt is the one who keeps her sane and breathing. But Byatt seems to have secrets of her own, and I have no idea what to believe about her.

There is a massive cliffhanger of an ending, which I expected due to reviews I've read, but I didn't expect it to end so abruptly. And we're left with more questions than answers. Which is fine, if there's going to be a sequel, but if there isn't... well, I'm massively disappointed.

Wilder Girls is definitely worth the read for the weird and crazy and brilliant, just don't expect to get many answers, or to be all that scared. It didn't live up to my expectations, but I did enjoy it.

You might also like:

Warm Bodies by Issac Marion Drown by Esther Dalseno The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

Over to you graphic

What are your thoughts on horror without the horror? What do you think of books that are super weird? Will you be reading Wilder Girls? Let me know in the comments!

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