I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Published by Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019
Genres: Horror, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
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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.
The girls used to be normal. They used to number almost a hundred students at Raxter before the Tox came. Before everyone was transformed into something different.
‘It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.’
As time passed, the girls’ numbers dwindled but the ones that survived continued holding out hope for a cure that was promised.
Wilder Girls begins with an otherworldly air. A girl with a second spine, another with an eye that has fused shut with something growing underneath. It’s eerie and unsettling and their story only gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it.) Much like the cover, the horrors within have their own sort of twisted beauty that is equal parts horrifying and mesmerizing. Horrific, yes, but at the heart of Wilder Girls though is a story of love and friendship. After Hetty’s best friend Byatt experiences a flare-up and is sent to the infirmary which many girls never return from, Hetty begins a dangerous search for answers. Her search quickly disturbs the delicate veil of secrecy that surrounded the school to keep the girls in the dark from what was truly happening to them.
The horrors of the island and the girls themselves were perfectly described and I found the comparisons to Annihilation to be apt. I wanted more questions answered about the island, the effect on the animals, and the irises, but I also wanted the resolutions we did get to still be rooted in that otherworldly horror. They were instead stripped of that mystery, made the answer far too simplistic, and made me wonder if any of the horror was truly real at all. Powers is a skilled horror writer and her debut proves this. I anticipate that Wilder Girls is just a dip in the pond of the horror stories she has in store for us.
‘I think I’d been looking for it all my life – a storm in my body to match the one in my head.’