Title: Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Published: July 9, 2019
Read as: e-book, library loan
My rating: 3
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)
“We don’t get to choose what hurts us”
I had been wanting to read this book since its release in 2019. It sounded a little spooky with high stakes, fantasy elements, and sapphic themes. All of those things are right up my alley and putting them together? I just assumed it would be a slam dunk read.
Sadly, this book fell firmly into what I call the “meh” category.
We all know the “meh” category. Not good, not bad, it just kind of exists in a purgatory of not eliciting emotions one way or the other. One of the major themes of this book is body horror. A group of girls are quarantined on an island that houses their school after some sort of disease broke out that caused their bodies and, eventually, minds to mutate in horrific ways. These physical mutations are described for nearly every person our lead character comes across in the book and, well, it did nothing for me. The descriptions sounded like something a pre-teen boy would come up with in a ludicrous story he tells his friends. “There’s something living behind her eyes, guys! And she can’t open her eye! They sew it closed!” Yawn.
(Minor spoilers) Throughout the story the idea of fierce loyalty bred from necessity is enforced multiple times. These girls are trapped in their school with mutated animals bent on devouring them knocking at their doors. They only have each other and they protect one another. However, when push comes to shove our leading characters abandon their schoolmates without a second thought, focused only on themselves and their own wants.
Overall, I didn’t understand the point of this book. Quite frankly, there didn’t seem to be one. There was a problem with no solution proposed, by the end the stakes had been stripped away, and the presented character developments meant nothing. The only saving grace of this story is that the writing style had good flow and after the first quarter of the story or so there were no lulls to drag you into boredom. This wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It simply…exists.