Release-Day Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Wilder Girls by Rory Power // VBC Review

Wilder Girls
Rory Power
Published: July 9, 2019 (Delacorte Press)
Purchase at: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

It’s been nearly two years since the Tox first started altering the girls from Raxter School for Girls. It impacts everyone differently—whether from growing extra vertebrae, developing a reptilian hand, or a just-out-of-reach fluttering behind your now-blind eye. The school has been on quarantine all these months, and now, slowly, the supplies are dwindling, and their communication with the outside world is further and farther between.

If you want to survive you have to keep close those you can count on. For Hetty, she has Reese and Byatt. When Byatt goes missing, Hetty decides to break quarantine and leave the gated confines of the school to search for her. With Reese’s help, they set off searching the island that has become their purgatory. Little do they know the island still has some secrets left, and it won’t share them easily.

First off, can we just admire that gorgeous cover?! It really captures the horrific beauty that runs throughout the book. The grotesque and scary changes happening to the girls are given this strange ethereal quality in the hands of Rory Power’s wordsmithing. It’s not just the girls, either, but everything happening on Raxter Island. From the nuanced changes to the more dynamic.

Wilder Girls is definitely a character-driven story with the mystery of the Tox taking second-stage to the need for Hetty to find Byatt.

Rory Power makes a clear distinction between Hetty’s deep sisterly connection to Byatt and her more romantic feelings for Reese. It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story with a dystopian setting backdrop, but I loved the moments of clarity—for both Reese and Hetty—in discovering their true feelings for one another, like a moment of quiet in the eye of a storm. Yet also seeing the unflinching devotion Hetty carries for Byatt which sets the pacing rushing forward towards the inevitable conclusion.

Hetty, and on alternate chapters Byatt, is a perfect navigator through this strange world. Hetty still keeps hope alive that a cure is forthcoming, yet she also is realistic in that she understands that in order to benefit from said cure, you must first survive. That means fighting against the outside forces, but also fighting against your own body.

I will say I wanted more time exploring the island outside the gates of Raxter School. The slow way that the Tox inhabits not only humans but seems to consume everything around it in varying ways was fascinating, yet just shy of satisfying my curiosity for it all. Overall, I’d say I was satisfied for what we find out about the Tox, but that in and of itself felt very quick, instead it’s the mystery of maybe why this seems to be happening that is slowly pieced together until the very end.

Wilder Girls is written with such flowing prose often used in flowery and metaphorical ways; it may not satisfy those who like to have a structured buttoned-up conclusion. For me, I love these types of stories, when done right of course, because they are so open for interpretation and just beg for a reread which typically results in a discovery of new perspectives.

Wilder Girls has been a very hyped book. Rory Power’s debut certainly packs a punch. After resting on it a bit, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself opening the book again.

Content: References to sex, kissing, implied instances of suicide, implied instances of self-harm

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