Book Review

Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

What a stunning cover. What tricky content. Wilder Girls isn’t a clear one thing or another story for me – the pacing was great, the story telling was really enjoyable. But I’ve come away from it with the feeling that I’ve lost my peripheral vision – I was so focused on powering through the story, that I lost sight of the plot itself.

Wilder Girls

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Pages: 320
Publication Date: 9th July 2019 (paperback release in Feb 2020)
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

The Tox has kept Raxter Island under quarantine for the past eighteen months. Told that they cannot pass the fence, the girls from the boarding school become as increasingly feral, as the island grows wild around them. Their bodies mutate – some might grow gills, or pustules, or lose an eye, but everyone is affected in one way or another. And those bodies keep on mutating until some can’t take it any more. The authorities are searching for a cure, but it’s a long time coming …

There were so many things I had questions about – why didn’t the girls miss home? Why didn’t they care that they hadn’t spoken to their parents in a year? Why did no one try and pass the fence? Or swim off the island? Or escape? Whose blood is in the box? No one saw Mr Harker? Not to mention all the questions around the Tox itself – questions that I can’t ask without spoiling what little the book tells.

The writing is actually incredible, and part of that is my biggest criticism of it – how it’s able to give such an intense picture, yet hide so many details. Take the proclaimed LGBT relationships, for example – there was so much intensity of feeling but very little explicitly told. It made it hard for me to tell whether this was intensity of friendship in a dreadful situation, or actually Queer.

What this book needs, is a Book Club. There are so many points for discussion: about hormones, periods, puberty and change and how this book presents these as physical and extreme (but whilst skirting round the issue of puberty itself).
About boarding school – making your home somewhere else and giving yourself to it completely.
Mental health and implied self harm – the struggle for control in a situation where your body is out of control.
Of nature and adaptation…

I could go on – the point is that there are so many things to discuss, because very little is laid out for you. That can make a great book, or it can pull you apart, as other reviews show…

For those that have read it, I’m actually fine with the ending – I don’t need it all resolved, because how can you ever fix all of that in the right way??

That cover is still so beautiful though, I can’t take my eyes off it.

4 stars, I think?


2 thoughts on “Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

  1. Wilder Girls sounds intense. I had been expecting something of the sort but the depth of the writing, from your description, sounds like it would take you on quite the emotional reading journey. I prefer to have books finish well rounded but I can see why you’d be happy with the ending. Awesome review Hannah!

    1. Thank you 🙂 although the odd thing about it was that although the writing was deep, the plot was so sparse, which is why some reviews you read show a complete detachment from characters ans novel.

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