Rory Power takes the well-known and well-loved young adult boarding school trope and marries it with a survival story…and then turns it all on its head. Wilder Girls is a wild ride, indeed. We find ourselves in a hellish world where a mysterious illness named the Tox either kills or deforms all those remaining at the Raxter School for Girls. It’s jam-packed with diversity and luscious, stylistic writing.
"Feminist horror" -- for those of you that are fans, do I need to say more? The gore will not disappoint. For those of you that are skeptical still, this certainly has creepy, skin-crawly elements. At times, I had to squeeze my eyes shut because the imagery was so vivid and horrific. I have to give an extra star just for uniqueness alone, as there are few books that I have read in the young adult genre that have similar story-lines. It has apocalyptic overtones and political undertones.
The first few chapters felt relatively bland to me. It wasn't until we first get Byatt's POV that I was gripped. The way that Powers writes for Byatt is nothing short of poetic. I wanted more Byatt and less Hetty. There was a lot of unnecessary repetition, which could just be my own pet peeve. The world building could have been more descriptive and the ending felt rushed and abrupt. An extra 50 pages, maybe more, were really needed to give some necessary backstory and a less hurried ending. That being said, I would be interested in a sequel. Power's writing style is unique, gripping and nothing short of exquisite.
The entire time I was reading, all I could do was compare this to an M. Night Shyamalan movie. It is that type of "wtf just happened". 3.5 stars from me, rounded up. The rushing at the end coupled with underdeveloped characters had me wanting more. But bravo for a first novel. You can pre-order your copy here, Wilder Girls will be out in early July of this year.
I'm pretty confident that we can all agree the cover is absolutely stunning. It is what caught my eye in the first place. I wish I had a physical copy to photograph because I know bookstagram would be all about this one.
Power does give us a list of content warnings, which I would advise you read before reading or gifting this to someone else.