I went into reading this one without knowing much about it. While it’s only being released in the UK on the 6th of February, it’s been out in the US since last summer, and I had heard lots of praise, but never paid it much attention or looked into what the book was about. I won my copy at a giveaway at YALC way back in July and kind of forgot about it until I saw that publication was approaching and I really should get onto reading and reviewing Wilder Girls (I have a spreadsheet in my calendar to help me keep track of release dates and deadlines).
Despite this, it ended up being very different from my first impression and going in an unexpected direction. But more on that below the housekeeping:
RELEASE DATE: 06/02/2019
STAR RATING: 3/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: 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. (from the author’s website)
OPINIONS: This one didn’t quite work for me. The story is told through the point of view of two girls, Hetty and Byatt – both unreliable narrators in the sense that they have very limited knowledge of what is going on around them and a sense of resignation leading them to lose much of their curiosity. They are best friends, stuck in a boarding school in survival mode after a mysterious ailment has struck, and we readers join them about eighteen months into quarantine.
Hetty gets chosen for a position of authority, and learns more than she bargained for about the way things are run, while Byatt is taken away after her affliction gets worse. It is only the disappearance of her close friend that gets Hetty to wonder if there might be something more sinister at work… Through the way the narration is set up and split into two separate strands, the characters stay rather superficial. There is some f/f rep, and plot and pacing are good – I read through Wilder Girls quite quickly. However, the book as a whole, and especially the resolution left me feeling very anticlimactic.
I would recommend fans of Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation and survival narratives check this one out, it might be that it is better suited to your tastes than mine! As usual, here is the Goodreads link and here is the Book Depository one.