Monday, July 1, 2019

ARC Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 368
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//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
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.

When I started Wilder Girls I wasn't quite sure what genre it would be, mostly because I didn't pay much attention to the synopsis. I saw the weird cover, read some weird descriptions, and knew it was going to be a book for me!

Hetty is a student at Raxter School for Girls, along with her best friends Byatt and Reese. A year and a half ago the Tox hit the school, killing off teachers and afflicting students with horrible symptoms. The agreement they have with the government is that they maintain quarantine on their island within the school's fence and they'll continue to receive supplies. Hetty is chosen as one of the girls who ventures outside the fence to pick up supplies at the dock, soon after Byatt goes missing, and things unravel from there.

I loved the characters in this book and the relationships between them! Hetty was brave and fiercely loyal and I adored her friendship with Byatt. The romance was amazing and real and I loved seeing a more realistic exploration of a romantic relationship during such a brutal situation instead of the normal "they stopped to kiss" during life or death moments in a lot of YA fantasy. It was beautiful and heart-wrenching and I loved it.

Although the characters were amazing, where Wilder Girls REALLY shines is its worldbuilding. The island and the school are creepy and created a feeling of claustrophobia even though it takes place on what feels like a large island. I loved the idea of the world outside the fence and not knowing what was out there, but the school was equally amazing. I can easily picture this whole world of weirdness and I love when an author is able to paint such a clear picture. This is absolutely my kind of book!

I don't know if I'd truly consider this horror, but I was sufficiently creeped out from the very first page. The Tox was horrifying, but what a fantastic story! I will admit that parts of this book did drag and I can understand why some readers might get bored with the descriptions of the daily lives of the girls at Raxter, but I didn't mind it. Seeing the day in and day out of the abandoned school helped to build the feeling of unease and made me feel that much more shocked when the twists started being revealed. And there were a lot of them!

While reading this I was reminded of Annihilation, which is my one of my favorite movies (no, I haven't read the book). That isn't to say that this isn't unique, because this book is definitely that! But I Wilder Girls gave me the same (amazing) feeling of weirdness and unease that Annihilation did and I loved it. If you're a fan of weird, twisty books, this is for you! I can't wait to see what this author writes next!