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.
Wilder Girls has received a lot of hype this year in the run up to its release. I think a lot of people were excited because a) it’s queer, and b) it sounds super weird. And it is super weird. I don’t normally go for weird books, but I picked up Wilder Girls at YALC and decided I should give it a go.
The beginning of Wilder Girls is quite slow. It takes Power some time to set up the premise and to introduce the reader to the island. We are introduced to the girls who are stuck at the school, and to be honest I’m not really sure what kind of vibe Power was going for here. The whole beginning felt very slow and demure, but then the gruesome body horror was introduced along with fights between the students. I struggled a bit in the beginning because the pacing was so slow and to be honest, the book wasn’t very engaging.
Towards the middle of the book, something clicked. I ended up really connecting to the characters, especially after we saw more of the relationship between Hetty and Resse. I was really enjoying discovering the mystery of the infection and the island, and learning what had been happening between the school and the government.
I was a bit confused by what Power was going for with Byatt’s character. Things were revealed about her in the middle of the book, which should have shone a different light on her personality, however it then didn’t come up again? The whole thing seemed a bit irrelevant and I’m not sure why it was included.
Things got bad again towards the end of the book. There was a bit more going on than in the rest of the book, which upped the stakes a bit and made things a little bit more exciting. But then the very end was confusing to me again, because I had heard this book is a standalone but it felt like Power was prepping things for a sequel. That could also explain the revelations about Byatt’s character, and how they weren’t touched upon later on in the book. If Power is hoping for a sequel, then these decisions make sense. If not, Wilder Girls feels very underdeveloped and incomplete.
It’s a shame I didn’t enjoy Wilder Girls more because it did have a few redeeming qualities. I enjoyed the body horror, I enjoyed the relationship between Hetty and Resse, and I enjoyed parts of the ending when things got a bit more action-packed. I just feel that Wilder Girls could have been a bit more.