I’m not the hugest fan of books marketed as young adult. I have absolutely nothing against them but I’m no longer the target audience for them, I suppose, so I don’t actively seek them out. This is where reading friends come in. I will always make an exception when several friends assure me that “you will like this one”. That’s how I ended up reading Wilder Girls. It also won the group read poll for the Ladies of Horror Fiction November group read so I had to read it anyway, haha. Fortunately for me, it was excellent and gory and the teens here were smart and not navel gazing, annoying, love-struck fools. There was no time for that in a story such as this and I will die on this hill! Also, don’t take any of my statements seriously. I am a fickle reader and I may fall back in love with YA next month or possibly tomorrow.
This is a weird book. The best kind of weird. It starts off in the thick of things, months after something called the Tox has infected all of the flora, fauna and the surviving residents at a remote (isolated island kind of remote) all-girls’ boarding school. The students, a headmistress and a young teacher have been quarantined and survive with the help of supply drop-offs provided by the military as they await a cure that the Navy promised “is coming”. The infection is what is weird as it physically changes them, its symptoms are different from person to person and it is always gory and gruesome and extremely painful. If body horror is your thing, this book is probably meant for you!
Hetty, Byatt and Reese are the main characters in this story and are struggling to survive each flare-up of the Tox, while looking out for each other and ferreting out secrets. And there are many secrets. Things are not at all what they seem and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
These characters are all complicated as are their relationships with each other. There is no insta-love in this book because in this story nothing comes easy and I can’t express how very much I appreciated that. These girls have dealt with many tragedies and trauma and live in fear but somehow manage to keep it together, taking the changes in their bodies as they come and never complaining about it.
Typically I’m the type of reader who wants all of her questions answered. This book spends its pages slowly doling out information and leaving you wondering what the hell is truly happening for most of the book and, in the end, not giving you any concrete answers. Arggghh. My nosy self is having a fit right now, not going to lie, but sometimes it is best to think on a book and this is one of those books. I am torn between wanting a sequel and not wanting all of the mysteries revealed in another book. As I said, this is a weird one and some things should simply stay weird without getting explained away.
4 ½ stars to this brutally raw and imaginative book. It is an incredible debut and I’ll definitely be reading this author again – sequel or no sequel!