Hi all! I know I have been missing for a while. Apologies for dropping off the face of the map, I have very good reasons…more on that another day though. I am trying to get back in to the swing of things, so I am catching up on the reviews I have been behind on forever!
Wilder Girls was one of those books that left me unsure and more than a little uncomfortable the entire way through. It is outside of my normal genres, but after receiving an Advanced Reader Copy and loving the cover, I decided to try it out. The book came out last summer and enjoyed a brief buzz, but was met with a lot of disappointment from reviewers in the bookstagram world. I am absolutely in the minority when I say this book had me hooked and I would very nearly give it five stars.
The story follows a period in the life of three girls and their few remaining instructors and fellow students. A plague called the Tox has isolated an all-girls school on a remote island and killed off most of the staff and students. It has left every person on the island with horrible mutations and health problems. The government slowly shuts off support and communication as more of the inhabitants mutate and die. Even the Flora and Fauna of the island have been corrupted. One girl, Byatt, comes up missing and a harrowing search and rescue mission, with very unexpected results, ensues.
I seem to have read a myriad of plague related, post-apocalyptical books in the last year, culminating in The Stand right as the Corona Virus was heating up (poor life choices, I know…more on that soon though. That blog is going to be a doozy.) I have since moved on to the much more reasonable, and much less stressful, historical bodice rippers that I enjoy so much. This book stuck with me though. It was easily the standout book of the summer for me.
As a debut novel, the writing was everything I wanted it to be. It was easy to read, yet interesting, fast-paced, and filled with seeping tension. The way the Tox spread through the island and its inhabitants could be felt through the words and style that Rory Power uses.
It received great reviews from literary critics and overall was pretty well received. Bookstagram and the Goodreads crowd were incredibly divided though. The chief complaint was not liking the ending. The ending is what sealed the feeling of terror for me though. The paragraph below talks a little more about exactly how I felt so read that if you are okay with spoilers. Otherwise, I have to give this book a solid 4.5. Some parts felt rushed, there were a few holes, and the writing stumbled in a couple of places, but for a debut novel, it was stunning. It exceeded my expectations and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, but dark, read.
The ending is intense and unsatisfying, but isn’t that the most horrifying thing? The biggest complaint from readers was that they did not like the fact that there is no closure and no true final scene that wraps it all up. It made the book for me. These girls just kind of disappear and you have no idea whether they make it or die some horrible death. The terror that those girls must have felt gets in your head too with the lack of closure. The unknown is terrifying to most humans, so I cannot think of a better way to end a horror novel.