This review is spoiler free.
“We don’t get to choose what hurts us.”
Published: 2019, Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Length: 8hrs 49mins (Narrated by Eileen Stevens and Jesse Vilinsky)
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, LGBT, Mystery, Fiction
Contains: Strong Language, Death, Murder, Suicide, Violence, Blood/Gore, Self Injury
‘Wilder Girls’ tells the story of the Raxter School for Girls eighteen months after it was put under quarantine due to the Tox. It started slow, the teachers dying one by one, but then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies into something strange. Now, isolated from the rest of the world, they eagerly wait for a cure. However, when Hetty’s friend, 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.
I’ve heard so much about this book, seeing it across social media. I can’t deny, the main reason I decided on eventually picking up this title was for the gorgeous cover. It wasn’t until I researched into it more that I was intrigued by the concept, regardless of the fact that it wasn’t ideal for the current times. Nevertheless, I fell in love.
Hetty made for a brilliant protagonist. With her disability and queer representation, it was incredible to follow the world from her point of view. I was gripped from beginning to end as we learned about the Tox and searched for the cure. Hetty was unapologetically bad-ass, fighting for survival from beginning to end and not once did she falter. She continuously fought for those alongside her, protecting them at all cost, and loved without question. She was there was everyone around her, asking the right questions and remaining on track. What I loved the most though, was the fact that Hetty’s queerness was mentioned yet not expanded upon. This may sound like a unique opinion, but it wasn’t the focus of the story, she simply existed. Besides, who has time for romance in this dystopian world?
Reese was another brilliant character, calm and cold at the best of times, but loving deeply. I loved her relationship with Byatt and Hetty, their friendship something she held dear. It was incredible to watch this character develop, opening up more as the world unravelled around them.
Byatt was a unique character, known most by those around her rather than from the character herself. It was an incredible technique from Power, knowing the vast majority only by what others inform us about her. It made for a brilliant read, we still felt for her absence; we still cared.
The writing style itself was rich with description, making you entranced yet heaving by the horrors of this world. You couldn’t turn away, regardless of how much you may want to, transfixed on the story and the characters that inhabit the world that was falling apart before your eyes. It was a brilliantly grotesque read, and I loved every minute of it. Narrators, Eileen Stevens and Jesse Vilinsky, made this story even more gripping, with dramatic pauses and distinguishing accents.
Overall, I adored this book. It was terrifying to read, yet the characters and the writing style made it impossible to look away. I have my fingers crossed for a sequel.