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This is an alternate cover edition, reprinted with awards, of 9781742612317.

Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself.
The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are…

In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.
A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard.
And I kissed Ben Capaldi.


Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.

Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray.

And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.

A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.

Read an extract here: http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/resources/FW-Wildlife.pdf

384 pages, Paperback

First published May 21, 2013

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About the author

Fiona Wood

11 books172 followers
Fiona Wood is the author of young adult novels, Six Impossible Things and Wildlife. Her third book, Cloudwish, will be published in the US in October. Before writing YA fiction, Fiona worked as a television scriptwriter for twelve years, writing everything from soap, and one-hour adult drama, to children’s drama. Prior to this she dropped out of law and completed an arts degree, both at Melbourne University, worked in marketing and in arts management, did some freelance journalism, and studied screenwriting at RMIT. She has served as a judge for the AWGIE Awards (Australian Writers’ Guild) and is an ambassador for The Stella Prize Schools Program. She has two YA children, and lives in Melbourne with her husband.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 414 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,631 reviews34k followers
September 23, 2013
I don't know about you, but I feel as though a vast majority of YA seems to portray teenagers as hypersmart, sophisticated creatures who are borderline perfect, or "carefully flawed" in exactly the right and tolerable way. As fun as that fiction can be, I always feel a certain amusement for characters like that, because how many of us actually were that spectacular at that age?

I think part of the appeal of contemporary Aussie YA for me is that it consistently offers teenagers who act like teenagers; whether they're snarly and vindictive or fumbly and sweet, a lot of them just seem very real. That's certainly the case with the students in Wildlife. Sybilla and Lou are spending one school term doing an outdoor education program, where they find that surviving the wilderness is easy in comparison to surviving deceptive friends, tricky, needy boys, and their own uncharted feelings.

Things I loved about this book: the funny, good-natured byplay between the characters; smart dialogue that zings; the way Lou's deep and private pain is slowly unpeeled until she's laid bare and vulnerable; the complex interplay between all the girls; and the way one first love is portrayed in a deeply earnest, embarrassing way. The author's writing feels fresh and unstudied, and I was startled into both laughter and tears on more than one occasion.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this book, however, is how sexually frank Wildlife manages to be without being laden down with angst and melodrama, nor breathless with rapture over its magical life-changing properties. Consider these quotes, which I love because of how painfully and truthfully this girl's first sexual experience is portrayed.

...neither of us mentioned the four-letter word that comes before this three-letter activity in all my schemes and dreams.

(And later)

Afterwards I feel wobbly and slightly shocked, climbing up from under the rubble to check out the new world...Did we really just do that? I want to hide my face. I want to look into a mirror in private, to check if I'm still me.

Because there's been so much discussion (read: hand-wringing) recently about how much sex is too much sex, we've invited author Fiona Wood on the blog to share her thoughts on this issue: do realistic sex scenes in YA fiction have value?

I think you'll be interested in hearing what she has to say.

Fiona Wood on Girls, Sex, and Wildlife

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
April 11, 2021
I can feel another themed re-read coming up - my favorite Australian YA. I have forgotten how wonderfully mature and just different those books are.

Wildlife is a novel about dissolution of old friendships and forming of the new ones. It also has the best sketched frenemy I've read in a while.

Wish I re-read this series of companion novels in the correct order, instead of 3-2-1, and wish Fiona Wood wrote more about these kids. One about Holly would be an interesting exercise.
_______
A misleading cover. This is actually a novel about friendships.

A top tier Aussie YA.
Profile Image for Nomes.
384 reviews373 followers
June 2, 2013
I marked my fave passages -- here's just a few:

I have been anticipating this book for a long time (Six Impossible Things being one of my favourite books) but I did not anticipate how much this book would resound with me.I felt like Wood was peeking inside my soul, capturing feelings and thoughts, taking me right back to my teenage self. Taken those haphazard and chaotic feelings and brought them to life in such a poignant, heartfelt and smiley, achey way.

There is so much to love about Wildlife. I love the way Fiona Wood writes. She has taken her time with this. Words are carefully chosen, plots are weaved together, sentiments are nailed, dialogue is funny and sharp and pitch perfect.

I didn't realise Wildlife would incorporate two POVs. And I loved that about it. Lou's POV is shared through her diary entries, Sibylla's in present tense prose. I also loved the whole set-up. School camps were the best, and here we have a whole term school camp experience = winner for me.

A bit about Lou
I ached for Lou the most, wished she did not have to endure through the grief, and at the same time, I loved how she endured. She became so fierce and true to herself. Even in her grief, she is sharp and so likeable: After Fred died I divided my time between blind disbelief, blank chaos and therapy. (p7 Lou). Also, she brings to the book one of the best 'I love you' moments EVER. It nearly broke me, the swoon and all that was and all that was lost.

And Michael, how I loved him
Speaking of favourite characters, I loved Michael so much.

If I ever see Michael with a dreamyvague smile on his face and ask him what he's thinking about the answer is likely to be, prime numbers. (p 42 Sib on Michael) Michael really spoke to me. He was unique, just doing his own thing which was not like the crowd at all and teen years can be so hard for boys like him, but Wood really elevated him and he is such a stand-out and a new favourite literary character for me. I so like him, and I think he will resonate with many readers.

'Lou seems to have in common with Michael that thing of not caring at all about other people's approval. (p245 Sib) I wanted to go into the pages of this book and hang out with them, I wanted to go back to my teenage self and let Lou and Michael rub off on me and make me a better version of myself. 'The only person you should be is yourself. You can't control perception. All you can control is how you treat someone else.' (p 308. Lou to Sib. I love her.)

And, also, Sibylla...
I loved Sib as well, her narration and heartache was charming and honest and she is so beautifully captured. What am I even doing here? Me, an inner city girl. Ninety per cent of my life happens on one highly resourced page of the street directory. (p92 sib LOL)

I'm too tired and too sad to write home just yet.I miss them, even Charlotte. Who'd thunk? I don't think I fully appreciated how relaxing it is having someone I can be really mean to. It's going to be so hard being nice all the time. (p 51 sib -- I know that feeling :))

I am really sick of the people who need to tell me I'm unattrative. Somehow they feel duty-bound to put me down because I've been in that stupid advertisement. Surely my neon self-esteem/appearance sign is still visibly flickering on 'below average'. Nothing has changed here. (p289 Sib. Capturing how we have all felt, despite her confidence and shining personality).

Here I could mention all the themes and goodness and beauty of this book, there is so much depth and richness to explore. However, in thinking about my review, I really want to say, despite the ache and grief and exploring sex and friendship and classic coming of age stuff, just how much FUN the whole book is

Favourite things about Wildlife that I loved:
pranks
ghosts (Maisy and the charcoal man),
hikes
camping
elevensies
clinkers
'we intend to deliver the joy of grammar to wanderers in the alpine region.' p212 apostrophes of possession graffiti. That whole scene = love so much
redskins
sex and STDs and Lou's mum -- many LOLs
Looking for Alibrandi shout-out <3
snippets of awesome hanging out teen dialogue: What flavour would you say blue snakes are?' He asked (p 238 michael to Lou)

Also, finding out more about Dan and the gang from Six Impossible Things:
I look forward to sitting with him when he gets back and I am released. We will sit and not have to talk. Or we may talk. If we do, it won't be to reassure someone who doesn't feel as bad as we feel that everything is okay. (p147 Lou, thinking about Dan)

While I was reading Wildlife I loved it. I loved the fresh and funny feel. Loved watching the character's interact. Loved the little anecdotes weaved into the narrative. After I finished Wildlife, I loved it even more. Once I saw the big picture I was in awe of how Wood did all that. How she crafted a story that was so much more than a linear storyline. Full of deep running themes (see Reynje's review for more theme discussion).

Wildlife is a beautifully written story that will stand the test of time and multiple rereads. A book for every teenager, and everyone who once was a teenager. A new absolute favourite for me.
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
May 24, 2013
“..my heart is its own fierce country where nobody else is welcome.”

“Q: And who the hell do I think I am?
A: I have no idea.”


The long-awaited companion to Wood’s much-loved debut, Six Impossible Things, does not disappoint. Wildlife is a beautiful and bittersweet novel of heartbreak and healing, friendship and betrayal; an achingly authentic portrayal of coming of age against a backdrop of the Victorian wilderness.

Where there was a certain light-hearted buoyancy that tempered the issues explored in Six Impossible Things, Wildlife has an emotional resonance and depth that befits both the maturation of the characters and the themes of the novel. This is a story that navigates the complexities of grief, sexuality and (not) fitting-in, written with a perceptive grasp of how the teen characters internalise and process these events.

The writing is a blend of lyrical and astute, laced with the raw longing and heady desire of heartbreak and burgeoning attraction. Related through the dual perspectives of Sibylla and Lou, Wood weaves a narrative of loss and love, gradually entwining the lives of the two girls as they learn to survive in the wild.
“Greatest pain in the world: the moment after waking. Remembering again as consciousness slaps my face in the morning’s first sigh. Nips fresh the not-healed wound. Clubs its groundhog self into my brain, a new sharp bite, a new blunt instrument for every single day of the week. Grief has so many odd-value added features. You’d laugh.”
Using the setting of an outdoor education program, Wood places her characters into a heightened environment – here, life is distilled, concentrated down to its fundamental elements. In one sense, it’s survival in the physical world, stripped of outside influences and support networks. In another, it creates an incubator that intensifies and tests allegiances. This concept of habitat and isolation from external factors serves to pressurise relationships, forcing them to either evolve or disintegrate.
“Sometimes I think I see you, Sibylla, but then you get all blurry about what people think about you… The only person you should be is yourself. You can’t control perception. All you can control is how you treat someone else.”
Into this amplified reality, Wood mixes envy and manipulation, referencing the novel’s Othello motif in the dynamic of Sibylla and Holly’s friendship. The longevity of the relationship and the tenuous balance of power that both girls have grown accustomed to is challenged when the limelight suddenly falls on Sibylla. With this new attention, the roles they occupy within the school’s social order are shifted, presenting opportunity, confusion, and a catalyst for the toxicity of their friendship to emerge. It’s an insightful portrayal of the insidious creep of jealousy and cruelty, the way lines between friend and enemy can be obscured by years of shared history, and the complex nature of female friendships.

Within this framework, Wood also addresses perceptions of beauty and popularity, particularly as it relates to the hierarchy of high school. The concept of Sibylla’s beauty and how it is viewed and acknowledged by the characters is handled particularly intelligently; Wood has smart, interesting things to say about self-image and change, and the frequent dichotomy between the way we see ourselves, and the way others see us.

Wildlife is frank in its depiction of sex and desire – in both the physical acts and feelings, and in attitudes towards sexuality. Anyone who thinks YA shies away from candidly portraying teen girls’ responses to sex needs to read this book, because it’s handled openly and positively, even while it acknowledges the negative messaging and misogyny that saturate mainstream media. Wildlife is refreshingly honest, addressing the imbalance while remaining true to the characters – who are complex, fallible, three-dimensional.

But most of all, I loved the achy ambiguity of the relationships, the palpable sense of yearning that accompanies reality when it doesn’t quite match the characters’ expectations. Wood has a keen grasp of how it feels to be in this emotional limbo, and it comes across raw and compelling in her writing. It’s like being fifteen all over again – exposed, vulnerable, yet brave - tasting the world for the first time and being surprised that the sweetness can be laced with the bitter.

A novel about testing new realities, survival and nine-letter words, Wildlife is utterly gorgeous.

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Profile Image for Jenna.
Author 4 books774 followers
December 1, 2018
Wildlife is pretty much the perfect teen book. It is so incredibly realistic, while also being touching and inspiring. It is a fun, easy read, but it also explores very important and deep issues. It will make you feel happy and sad and worried and excited and so many things all at once. It will tear you apart into tiny pieces, before patching you up again, just as whole, but not quite the same.
589 reviews1,029 followers
July 27, 2015
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

'No matter how much you tell yourself nothing has changed, it has.'

An utterly beautiful novel, Fiona Wood threw me around in circles of emotions. Combining every possible element of a YA contemporary to create this seemingly impervious novel. The resplendent prose and imagery do not even begin to cover how magnificent this book was. For this was yet another successful read from a strong Aussie author, fleshing out reality to the barest bone of the pile.

Alternating in the POVs of two exclusive teen voices, in which the only similarity is that they are both lost in their unique ways, messages of loss and love break through the outdoor education camp. As well as grief and happiness. Sex, image and social hierarchy. While not falling into a cliché story, Wildlife is a book of wilderness and finding yourself after you loose yourself. This book made me go on tolls of emotions. While not awfully severe; I got frustrated, pissed off even. Crazed and lost. On the brink of sad tears, or even happy tears. What stood out to me most of this was that I was feeling exactly what Sibylla or Lou were going through. I related with them in the most wholly way anyone could possible get. They were real and true to themselves, feeding me their words like I was their beloved diary.

Sibylla accomplished two things in the holidays that were out of the norm. She kissed Ben Capaldi- popular and everyone loved guy- and her picture appeared on the school billboard. Now, going for a school term in the wilderness at a outdoor education camp, Sib finds herself in a drama of new opportunities, romance and hidden secrets. And also maybe, learns that her closest friends may not me that close at all. It's a wild adventure of betrayal and reality. The way Sib tackled these situations eventually, as they smashed into her face was highly authentic, exposed and spectacularly outspoken. By utilising the backdrop of this novel- the Australian outback- Sib is placed in a zone with no place to hide from, as her complications follow her twenty-four seven.

Then there's Lou. The two characters are similar in the essence that both Sibylla and Lou are confused, exposed. Their emotions are absolutely in contrast to what is hidden under their unwavering masks. What worried me here was because of these similarities in character, how would I manage to alternate between the POVs that were in first person? Answer: I could separate the two after reading just two sentences. Fiona Wood's intelligence of illustrating two broken teens in two thoroughly detectable tones that were authoritative to the core amazed me. While Sib was experiencing the hardships of assorts of relationships, Lou endeavoured through the recent loss of her love.

The simplistic backstory of a school outdoor camp borders possibilities to the sky. Entwined in here we have numerous strategically addressed harsh and topics that most authors shuffle stealthily away from. Classic high school occurrences are renewed and introduced, such as (like aforementioned) unrestrained desire, jealousy and the portrayal of social hierarchies that are determined by visual-image and to put candidly, sass.

Wildlife just took YA contemporaries to the next level with a broad spectrum of complexities, bittersweet romance that is fresh and wavering as well as a raw story about coming of age. Living in the wilderness could be a hidden doorway to new possibilities, new beginnings and about finding and loosing what's right. Fiona Wood's writing is something not to be overseen- it is analogical in a sense- and emotively enthralling.

In shorter words: Wildlife is a lovely novel that has take a place in my heart from the moment I finished it. If a book were to be hyped for it's gorgeousness, this would be so hyped that every living thing that could read would have read this.

I will now go and find myself as I have lost myself somewhere between the last few pages of Wildlife.
Profile Image for Trisha.
1,965 reviews104 followers
May 24, 2013
Fiona Wood, you are one brave YA author. Didn't anyone tell you it's not good form to kill off a beloved (secondary) character from a previous book? Didn't anyone warn you about not ending with a romantic kiss in the moonlight?

But you just ignored all the expectations, and put Lou (from Six Impossible Things) into the most awful of times. You send Dan and Estelle off page to France, and then you plunk Lou down in the middle of a toxic friendship. Not to mention the middle of a survival term (of school) in the wilderness (well, as wild as a private school off-site camp can be - hint: not very).

Oh, but you do all the wrong things so well.

Oh Lou. Her pain is palpable and never-ending. Her loss has changed her. And in trying to dig herself out of the spiralling darkness, Lou finds her self-imposed solitude sorely tried by the nasty Holly, who is undermining her best friend, Sibylla's confidence and self-esteem.

This is complicated and messy, and really really sad. Wood has been able to capture Lou's grief exquisitely, like sharp needles pricking endlessly. Sibylla's life is changing and in learning to keep true, she faces some harsh facts. Oh Sibylla.

And can I add one more? Oh Michael.

Oh yes. Oh Fred (sob).

Keep ignoring the tropes Ms Wood, I implore you.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Paula Weston.
Author 8 books848 followers
June 18, 2013
Yeah, yeah I know. I said I wasn't going to rate books any more, only review them. But when you love a book as much as I loved this one, I have to break my own rule...

I devoured Six Impossible Things only a month or so ago, and was itching to read Wildlife. It more than lived up to expectations, revealing new sides to Fiona Wood's talent as a storyteller.

Fiona's writing is honest, funny and, at times, heartbreaking. And always fresh and enjoyable.

There's a perfect balance here between two coming-of-age stories: Sibylla's lessons about friendship, love, social status and self acceptance; and Lou's more heartbreaking one of loss and finding the courage to reconnect.

I'll confess I had a particularly soft spot for Lou and her ability to make wry (and wonderfully astute) observations, even in the midst of dealing with her grief. And I especially loved her memories of Fred.

The outdoor education camp setting is genius (survival skills and self reliance...these are not just things for the outdoors), and the Othello parallels are a nice touch.

I happily join the circle of love for this book.
Profile Image for Heather.
295 reviews13.9k followers
February 2, 2015
Fiona Wood, and her Australian YA counterparts, are an integral part of why I continue to read YA. Many YA characters are so perfectly constructed that they become unbelievable. While this can be amusing and even entertaining, I would hardly consider it relatable. Not so with Wildlife.

Don’t be fooled by the cover, this isn’t a cutesy love story. It’s a story about navigating life’s uncharted territories including disingenuous friends, misleading boys, and being true to who you are regardless of how popular or unpopular that might make you, all of which is fleshed out amidst outdoor camp setting.

I was impressed with so many aspects of Wildlife from the way characters were described, the issues they grappled with, and especially how the topic of sex was addressed, unflinchingly frank and honest.

A great read for anyone wishing for a witty, humorous, and humbling look at those final teen years.
Profile Image for ALPHAreader.
1,152 reviews
May 22, 2013
The Crowthorne Grammar outdoor education term is meant to impart life skills and self-reliance. Mobile phones are strictly forbidden (and reception sucks anyway) solo-hikes are a requirement and Milo is rationed – all in an effort to prepare the Year Ten’s for their imminent arrival into adulthood.

But for Lou, adulthood has already come much too soon, after the accidental death of her boyfriend, Fred. Now she’s dealing with the ache of never letting go and the shattered illusion that death is for the old. Her public school friends, Dan and Estelle, are putting their own pieces back together – and venturing on a different type of adventure, in the form of a French exchange program. But Lou, fearful of somehow abandoning Fred, instead chooses to attend her mum’s old private school, Crowthorne Grammar. It’s just a shame that her first term coincides with the dreaded outdoor education camp. Now Lou is packing up her grief into a waterproof backpack, breaking in her boots and carting her bruised heart to the middle of nowhere.

Sibylla is in the middle of a very different life lesson when the outdoor education term rudely interrupts. Despite her feminist mum’s reservations, family friend and advertising producer, Bebe, managed to convince Sibylla (‘Sib’) to be the new face of an international perfume ad campaign. Sib recently had braces off and zits cleared, emerging beautifully butterflied – but her transformation is accelerated ten-fold when a twenty-metre billboard of her appears the day before school camp. Now Sib’s emergence from the cocoon is advertised in an international campaign for all to see, and comment on. Sib’s best friend since primary school is Holly, whose bark is as bad as her bite – she seems to be a walking conundrum, at once jealous of Sib’s unbelievable good fortune, and thrilled that she can cash in on popularity-by-association for her own gains. Less enthused is Sib’s older oldest friend since kindergarten, Michael. Michael is a genius and unimpressed by the social strata at school – he’s focussed (and can sometimes get obsessed) with his piano-playing and running. To him, Sibylla will always be beautiful – billboard or no – and the resulting hubbub around her sudden popularity has him nervous.

What’s really got Michael riled is Ben Capaldi – future class president, straight-A student, ladies-man, guys-guy and all-round Mr. Popular. Normally Sib wouldn’t even be on Ben’s radar . . . but since ‘the billboard’, things have gotten interesting – in the form of an unexpected party kiss. Now Sib is going to spend an entire term in the great outdoors with her crush, trying to figure out if their kiss was a one-off, or if there;s possibility for more.

Along with four other girls, Lou and Sib are bunked together in Bennett House. Sib tries to steer clear of the new loner, and Lou is determined not to care about Crowthorne’s petty popularity stakes . . . but when you’re thrown together in the middle of nowhere, you quickly discover that the art of survival can sometimes mean depending on others, as much as yourself.

‘Wildlife’ is the new young adult novel from Australian author, Fiona Wood.

With some authors, it’s as though they’ve twisted off the top of your head and taken a peek inside, and then acted as brain stenographer to jot down privacies and idiosyncrasies you thought were wholly unique to you. Fiona Wood is such an author, and ‘Six Impossible Things’ was one of those books I read and felt an instant kinship with. So when news of Wood’s follow-up novel came through the YA grapevine, I marked its release date in my calendar and got excited . . . and when details of the blurb emerged, revealing that one alternating protagonist would be Lou (Estelle’s friend from ‘Six Impossible Things’, and insta-crush for Dan’s bestie, Fred) I was doubly-thrilled. There’s nothing quite like reading a book and feeling that a fictional friendship has been established with the characters – the next best thing is knowing that you’ll be able to catch up and touch base with them again (à la ‘Saving Francesca’ and ‘The Piper’s Son’).

Of course, readers are not catching-up with Lou under the best of circumstances. When the book begins, Fred has been dead for months and Lou is still not coping . . . Dan and Estelle are making attempts to get on with their life by participating in the French exchange program, but Lou feels she should stay grounded in the country where Fred died, as a sort of allegiance to him. Fans of ‘Six Impossible Things’ will no doubt feel the crushing blow of once again meeting these characters they fell in love with, only to discover their world that we left semi-happily ever aftered, is now bleak and fractured. It’s tough, I’ll admit, but for Lou’s story it’s a hell of a place to start from.

Sib is dealing with very different issues. She’s a forward-thinking young feminist who hates misogynistic rap lyrics and isn’t terribly impressed by the girly cliques at her school. At seeming odds with Sib’s moral fibre is the massive twenty-metre billboard of her face that’s just been erected in the city – part of a perfume ad campaign that her mother’s best friend, Bebe, talked her into doing (with the tempt of money being put towards Sib’s end-of-school travel fund). Now Sib is on everybody’s radar, for various reasons; girls look at her wondering why she’s so special, boys feel the need to comment on her ‘hotness’ and her social standing is fluctuating (from non-existent, to suddenly being kissed by the most popular boy in her year level).

More barking. But maybe I've got traction with guys like this these strange days, and I decide to use it, instead of pretending to be a good sport and let them say any dumb thing they find amusing while I give what I hope is an ironic or non-committal smile.
‘Being gross doesn’t make you funny.’
‘And being on a billboard doesn’t make you pretty,’ Vincent says.
I catch the briefest flash of triumphant in Holly’s eye.


At first glance, Lou and Sibylla seem so different, that they’re doomed to fail in the same book. How can Lou’s grieving for her dead boyfriend possibly act as counterpoint to Sibylla’s sudden popularity sky-rocket and lustful developments with Ben Capaldi? It sounds like it shouldn’t work . . . but this is Fiona Wood, so it does. And the magnet that initially brings these two polar opposites together is Michael – Sib’s oldest friend, and Lou’s new confidante.

In a book with two stellar protagonists, Michael was actually my favourite character, hands down. He was just brilliant – a boy genius, tender soul and utterly unimpressed by popularity and the personality change that comes with clawing your way to the top of the ‘cool’ ladder. Michael may have Asperger syndrome, or else he simply suffers from always being the smartest person in the room (and it’s probably been that was since kindergarten) – I loved that Wood and Sib don’t hark on Michael’s quirks that mark him as different, they just accept him. And it’s his forthrightness and gentleman charm that has Lou seeking comfort in his friendship, and has him acting as a sort of bridge between her and Sib . . . and as much as Lou is gaining something from her new-found friendships, so too is Sib finding comfort in a new and old friend when romance becomes too much and frenemy, Holly, goes too far.

Sibylla’s story acts to remind Lou (and readers) that there is life beyond grief, and the world keeps turning. Sib and Michael are there to pull Lou into a different orbit; one that’s not defined by what’s missing but rather, what’s ahead. And I think if this had just been a book of Lou’s grief, it would have been very tough to get through. Tasked to jot her feelings down in a journal, Lou writes so eloquently about her hurt, bewilderment and never-ending sadness. It’s a vicious cycle that she communicates so well on the page, but poorly to the rest of the world;

Grief settles comfortably into any host; it is an ever-mutating, vigorous organism with an ever-renewing customer base. It generates a never-ending hunger, a never-ending ache, an unassuageable pain to new hearts, brains, guts every minute, every day, every year.It is the razor edge of a loose tooth shrieking to be pressed again and again into the soft pink sore gum.
It’s a one-way tunnel with no proof of another exit.


It’s actually a blessing to have Sibylla’s story alongside Lou’s – with her we get the butterflies-in-stomach, rollercoaster-highs of first crush turning into something more. It’s grief and giddiness, sweet and sour . . . two halves making an incredibly whole and fulfilling book.

Fiona Wood has done it again – I was happy to get lost in the wilderness of this story, and I’ll be passing it on to friends and family (young and old – because there’s no age-limit on relating to first experiences with love and death). A beautiful book with characters I didn’t want to leave, but I feel lucky to have met (some of them for a second time).
Profile Image for Karen ⊰✿.
1,414 reviews
January 6, 2019
As this book opens, Sibylla is 16 and her private school is sending her class into the wilderness for a term to experience outdoor education. They are in (gender segregated) shared dorms and spend their days attending traditional classes on site along with 1-2 day hikes, runs and other outdoor activities.
We flip back and forth between her and the POV of Louisa - who is still reeling from a tragedy and attending this school for this first time as part of her therapy.

At its core, this book is all about knowing who you are. Or if you don't, then at least standing up for what you believe in. There are themes of love, friendship, grief and "coming of age", but it is really Wood's character writing that makes this book so lovely to read.

Recommended to fans of YA that want a bit less fantasy and insta-love in their lives.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,158 reviews118 followers
December 23, 2014
Wildlife is an attempt at How To Make Sybilla Real: The Novel. Which means that her every teenage reaction is a scripted teenage reaction - one that feels universal and likely, but not real. Not like Sib is a living, breathing human being whose decisions are extensions of that uniqueness. Even this, from the very beginning of the novel:
As though I haven't heard every feminist rant under the sun and am not a proud feminist ranter myself, when warranted, and when I can be bothered.
I loved that. How perfectly apathetically adolescent. And yet there's nothing in the story which follows that supports Sib's statement there, and in fact I could build the argument that Sib's behavior contradicts it. And while it's really great to have a contradictory protagonist, there needs to be more self-awareness in the writing that said character is actually contradictory (instead of just passive) in order to pull that off.

There's so much about Sybilla's story that could be great, too: her sympathy toward Holly, how far she let Holly go, how she dealt with Ben. There are flashes - when Sib realizes that two of her friends have become friends without her, when she's upset at herself for a reaction she was too slow and startled to correct. But she just stayed a collection of very good opinions and never became a person holding those opinions. She feels like an author mouthpiece in that regard.

I also wonder how this will stand up in a few years, with lines like "I put down Othello for a bout of Angry Birds." That strikes me as instantly dating.

And there's an odd fixation with skin, too: Sybilla used to have acne until she went on Accutane, Lou and Fred both have - and there's a bunch of weird responses I can't quite figure out. They don't read as a rejection of the importance of appearance but almost as "She's a great person anyway," which is not something I'm comfortable with.

Interestingly, this is half Lou's story, too. And to give the author credit, she does a good job at creating two distinct voices. But Lou's story is so typical that it feels flat. It proceeds exactly as you would expect and ends exactly as you would expect, and I didn't find it nearly as thoughtful as Sybilla's story, which does have the trappings of originality, even if it never leaps off the page.

Reading this back, I can tell I'm picky: I want characters to be unique and universal, and to feel real and relatable, too. And yet even within Australian contemporary YA, I've found all that, so isn't my pickiness justified?
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
March 24, 2014
Sib begins the wilderness term with her classmates, best friends still with Holly and on the brink of a relationship with Ben, who she kissed at a party. Sib's gotten a lot of attention lately, thanks to her face being plastered on a billboard. It was a modeling gig she did for a little cash, on the suggestion of her aunt. This stint with "fame" changed how her classmates -- and her best friend -- she and interact with her, even if it doesn't change her in the least.

Lou is the new girl, tossed into this wilderness term without any immersion with these peers prior. She's grieving, deeply grieving, and she's private about what she's going through. She's not ready to open up, and even when pushed to the brink, she won't.

Until she does with Michael.

And it's through her relationship and opening up with Michael that she begins to forge a relationship with Sib and helps Sib realize that people like Holly are energy saps. . . not best friend material. That people like Holly are the reason that Sib may become hurtful herself.

Wildlife is an excellent little book about friendships and peer relationships, as well as about sexuality. Wood USES THE WORDS to describe what goes on in sexual experiences, through the voices of Sib and Lou, and it never comes off clinical nor does it come off as being too technical for how a teen girl might think. Even though Sib may not be happy with the choices she makes, she empowers herself with the ability to make those choices.

This is a story about coming into yourself and acting and reacting for yourself, rather than putting on a face or a performance for those around you.

I read the Australian edition, but I've been assured that, aside from some language that may be unfamiliar (and there was quite a bit), the story won't change in the US edition when it comes out this fall.
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,489 reviews516 followers
May 28, 2013

Wildlife is Fiona Wood's companion novel to her popular young adult contemporary debut, Six Impossible Things.

Sibylla is used to people looking past her, around her, through her even, but that all changes the day her face appears on a 20-metre billboard and Ben Capaldi, the most popular boy in year 10, kisses her.

"So the Earth must be spinning of it's axis by now, plummeting headlong towards a new universe, oceans sloshing and spilling, icecaps sliding, trees uprooted. Because somehow I've stepped over the line to stand with the popular girls. Only I haven't. The line must have moved without me realising."

Coping with her shift in status is disorientating for Sibylla, despite her best friend's coaching, especially as year 10 have to spend the next nine weeks camping together at their Grammar school's outdoor education camp in the highlands of Victoria.

"Now all I have to do is blend in, zone out and start crossing off the days on my cell wall"

Lou (from Six Impossible Things), new to Crowthorne Grammar, couldn't care less about Sibylla, Ben or the whole social milieu. Still grieving the accidental death of her boyfriend, Fred, she aims only to endure the term bunking with five strange girls.

Contrasting Sibylla's tentative negotiation of love, sexuality and friendship with Lou's grief and hard earned self awareness, Wildlife is a thoughtful coming of age story.

It explores the dynamics of self image and self esteem, highlighting how vulnerable teens can be to the perceptions of others. Sibylla in particular struggles with her desire to fit in and be considered as worthy of Ben's interest. Woods captures Sib's conflicted thoughts and behaviour wonderfully and it is this insightful comment from Lou that articulates the lesson Sib needs to learn.

“Sometimes I think I see you, Sibylla, but then you get all blurry about what people think about you, how you should act, what everyone expects of you, who you are pleasing, or not... The only person you should be is yourself. You can’t control perception. All you can control is how you treat someone else.”

The complexities of teen relationships also comes under scrutiny in Wildlife. Holly's fickle friendship and Michael's devotion highlights the extremes of loyalty. Again it is Lou's wisdom that helps Sibylla recognise the value of friendship.

"A friend brave enough to be truthful-very different from Holly's "honesty"."

The budding relationship between Sibylla and Ben is treated with refreshing candour. While Sib agonises over boyfriend/girlfriend etiquette and tries to reconcile lust with love, Ben maintains a casual attitude to the relationship which is realistic (and frighteningly familiar). I like that Wood chooses to recognise this common dynamic with equanimity and confronts desire and sex with candid honesty.

While Sibylla is experiencing a slew of firsts, Lou is mourning the memory of hers. Wood lays bare Lou's grief, anger and fears in poignant diary entries as Lou tries to reconcile her loss with the ordinary task of living. Though she tries to hold herself apart from everyone, sheer proximity eventually forces Lou to engage with her fellow students. Her strongest connection is with Michael, Sib's genius childhood friend, whose complete lack of artifice suits her, but she also becomes embroiled in the relationships between Sibylla, Holly, Michael and Ben despite herself. Unexpectedly, the muddled situation leads Lou to discover she can move forward with her life, without leaving Fred behind.

"You will always be a part of me, and how I see the world."

Wildlife is wonderful and easily one of the best contemporary young adult novels I have read. It's authentic, honest and teens will be able to relate to the characters and their circumstances.
Profile Image for Estelle.
876 reviews80 followers
December 22, 2014
3.75? This is a tough one! Originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog

I was tempted to read Wildlife because the reviews have been such a mixed bag. Here are some of my thoughts organized in a pros & cons list:

PROS

- The setting. I haven’t read another book where students took a semester to live in the wilderness. It very much felt like a camp (but with grades), and I enjoyed hanging out in a new setting and taking part in all the nature-y and physical activities that were part of their every day routines. (I don’t know if I ever would have survived a semester like this.)
- Lou is dealing with some very heavy grief. She’s also brand new to this school, and is able to shrink in herself as she deals with a tragedy that totally shattered her world. I loved how realistically Fiona Wood handled this storyline. Lou has to come to terms with so much without a familiar shoulder to lean on. She’s independent but hurting, and I liked how her story was broken down in diary entries as a way for her to work through these hefty emotions.
- I felt similarly about the sex in this book. Sib, who is dealing with some new treatment from her classmates because of a modeling gig she has, engages in a secret relationship with one of the most popular guys at school and she has so many questions about deciding to take the next step and what it means to her. This was some of the best inner dialogue I’ve seen about sex in a young adult book, and I wish there was more of it. What do you do when you think sex is a big deal and your partner doesn’t?
Michael — Sib’s true blue best friend who is sort of pushed to the side while she pursues other interests and also a new friend to Lou. He’s quiet but super solid and I had a lot of love for him throughout the story.
- Short chapters! Again, something I rarely see in the books I’m reading but very welcome when I’m reading during lunch and only have a short amount of time to jump back into the story. It felt like I always had a stopping point. (Plus the chapter number art was beautiful.)

CONS

- The pacing was a little slow. Wildlife takes place over a semester and because all of the chapters were so introspective, there was very little action. I kept wondering what was going to break the book wide open, and it took awhile. (Even when it got there, it felt more like a tiny fire than a full on explosion.)
- I was reminded a lot of my reading of Paper Airplanes from a few weeks ago. Two girls become friends, one of them has a toxic best gal pal, and there seems to be only a little bit of time for a full-fledged friendship to develop. It was obvious Sib and Lou could help each other (especially because Sib’s best friend is a piece of work) and I wanted the seed for their friendship to be planted sooner so maybe they could be farther along as I came up to the ending.

Final thoughts: Wildlife is written so beautifully, and I loved the supporting character that nature played in the story. The author did such a commendable job bringing to life two girls going through so much: one dealing with questions of her own limits (in relationships and friendship) and another working to make peace with the past. It was real and emotional but also hopeful. Definitely looking forward to reading more of Wood’s work in the future.
Profile Image for Celine.
247 reviews52 followers
June 14, 2013
Review originally posted in: http://forget8me8not.blogspot.com.au/...

Cover:
So cute! I love how the title of the book is written like the clouds, the blue sky and the two pairs of shoes in the bottom of the cover. It's simplistic but adorable!

Story:

Life? It's simple: be true to yourself. The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are...

While I haven't read Fiona Wood's Six Impossible Things, I adored Wildlife, the companion to Six Impossible Things. In Wildlife, we meet Sibylla, a girl who before going to the outdoor education program, managed to do two 'incredible' things; getting her face plastered on a huge billboard and kissing the most popular guy in her school!

Wildlife ventures around the themes of friendship, love and grief. Fiona Wood's writing is witty, beautiful and tackles the life of teenagers excellently. The setting is perfect to explore the characters and I love how Fiona Wood can capture the emotions of her characters so well. The book is written from dual POVs of Sybilla and Lou. Since I haven't read Six Impossible Things, I had no idea who Lou is or what she is like in the book but in this book, Lou becomes friends with Sybilla and their friendship is sweet and beautiful. Also, I can't help but smile when I noticed that Fiona Wood made a reference to Melina Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi!

Characters:
I think this is the strongest element of the book, the way Fiona Wood explores the characters, revealing the layers of their emotions and feelings one by one. In the beginning of the book, we know that Lou is grieving. As a way to handle her griefs, she writes journal entries and reading her journal entries broke my heart. They are honest, filled with grief but also show a process of Lou healing her heart. In some of her journal entries, she also talks about her friends (and if I'm not mistaken, they are the main characters in Six Impossible Things) I really liked Lou's character and how she blends in with Sibylla and her friends later on. Sibylla is also an enjoyable character to read about, from the awkward moments she had with the boy she likes, her witty-bantering with Michael, her friend, and her cute conversations with Lou. Sibylla's friend, Holly, isn't a particularly likeable character to me but I do like her friendship with Sibylla. Michael, on the other hand, is such a cute nerdy boy! I love his new-found friendship with Lou and his long friendship with Sibylla. Ben is an alright character, he can be annoying at times but his moments with Lou are quite adorable.

Overall:
Do you ever think of the wildlife as a place to heal your wounds, to find out who you are and to form relationships and friendships with people? Wildlife is a great novel which ventures around these themes with realistic characters who you can't help but adore and love. If you love contemporary books with beautiful and realistic story of friendship and love, then you definitely don't want to miss out reading Wildlife!

Thank you Pan Macmillan Australia for the review copy!
Profile Image for Angie.
2,338 reviews228 followers
December 17, 2014
I received an ARC through NetGalley.

I was quite excited to pick up Wildlife, because as someone who loves nature, but hates being outdoors, reading about it is the next best thing! Plus it's set in Australia and I love learning more about this country! Unfortunately, this was so not for me. I could not connect with (or really, come to like) any of the characters, which is a huge problem for a character driven novel. There were points where I was super interested, but then it would lose me, pique my interest, lose my interest, and so on. Ultimately it just lost my interest, since I really didn't care what happened to Sybilla or Lou.

Wildlife had me extremely lost for the first 90 or so pages, because I didn't realize it was told in dual POV. There was no indication that it was both Sybilla and Lou telling their stories, or maybe I missed it. Even so, I thought it alternated between Sybilla's narration, and then her journal/letters. But then when the two girls meet at the school camp, I realized there were two completely separate narratives happening. Although, after that, the girls have the exact same voice, so the only way to know who was talking was that Lou's chapters start with a date since she's writing in her journal or writing letters to her dead boyfriend.

Once I got the POV straightened out, I discovered that I just could not connect with these girls. Sybilla is very wishy washy and a total pushover. She spends too much time over-thinking a situation and then just going with the flow, only to over-think that later. She's "going out" with Ben, whom she barely knows, after he kissed her a party. He only did so because she was on a billboard. I really could not care about this relationship, although it did bring up some of the issues that I was interested in later. As for Lou, I liked her better. I liked getting her perspective on Sybilla since her observations were much more interesting than getting them first hand from Sybilla. But her story of grief didn't really go anywhere. All of the focus was on Sybilla and her drama, which Lou got herself involved in.

The only thing I really liked about Wildlife was the completely screwed up dynamics between Sybilla and her "best friend" Holly. Holly is seriously one of the worst people ever. Everything has to be about her. She inserts herself into the middle of everything, and twists situations to make her look good and others look bad. And she's just mean. She is not a good friend to Sybilla no matter how you spin it, and being at this camp forced Sybilla to realize that. It was an absolute train-wreck, and I couldn't look away.

So I wouldn't say Wildlife was bad, but it certainly wasn't for me. While they're not my favorite, I do like character driven books, but if I don't like the characters there's not much to be done about that. Oh well.

Read more of my reviews at Pinkindle Reads & Reviews.
Profile Image for Tara.
601 reviews3 followers
July 18, 2013
This was such a delight to read. Fiona Wood can certainly get inside the head of a sixteen year old. This book was so honest and so true. Funny when it needed to be funny, realistic at other times and so sad at other times. I loved the characters, Sybilla with her struggle at fitting in, trying to be the 'right' kind of friend, the 'right kind of girlfriend'....there were many times I just wanted to grab hold of her and tell her that it was perfectly fine to just be herself. Michael was fantastic, a total sweetheart of a nerd who really didn't seem to take on anyone else's opinion of himself - he just lived by his own rules and as the book went on, we get to see a bit deeper inside. I loved Lou (and now I want to read Six Impossible Things again to get a bit more Lou) and she is really the one who kept on making me tear up, my heart kept on breaking for her. A great cast of other sixteen year olds including the bitchy friend (and with friends like her, who needs enemies), the swoony guy (I did hold out more hope for him....) and the awesome setting of a school term spent at an outdoor educational facility.

This story was perfect. It was the perfect story of finding out who you are and where you fit in and what is important.

Passages I love:

'And you said it again, as though you were checking the flavour, and it tasted perfectly right. You said it again softly, I love you; you were looking right into my heart. You said it again, almost shouting. And you were laughing and it was as though you were so happy you couldn't believe that someone had given you this good thing' - page 236.

'I know I'll keep it forever and, looking at it, remember this day. A day on which I felt hope and contentment, and knew sadness was in retreat. A day on which my smile remembered how to work without needing specific instructions. On this day, I will remember, the future woke up, stretched out, and opened its arms to me again. And it felt quite possible to come out of the room of one-day-at-a-time' - page 334
Profile Image for Sam Chase.
699 reviews117 followers
February 11, 2018
Rating: 5 stars

What an amazing book! Fiona Wood has quickly become a favorite author of mine :) This novel has such an interesting premise, and the realistic characters and plot line were what made it so good.

Full review to come.
Profile Image for Roxanne.
801 reviews52 followers
September 8, 2015
Thank you to Little, Brown Books via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.


Did I like this book?
Something about this book got me right in the gut! I don't know if it was the characters, the writing, the Australian camp setting, or what, but yeah, Wood had me in her grip nearly from the first page. (I say "nearly" because it took a bit for me to figure out the style and the fact that there were two different narrators - at first I thought there was only one and I was totally confused!).

There's kind of a lot going on in this book, so I won't bore you with a synopsis or descriptions of all the interpersonal relationships, but I will say this: the characters here feel real. The more YA books I read, the more I think that writing authentic characters must be extremely difficult, because hardly anyone can do it right. After reading "Wildlife", I'm convinced that Fiona Wood does it right! Even though Sibylla frustrated me at times, I still loved her. She reminded me a lot of one of my friends in junior high. Lou was fabulous - it was so cool to be able to see the group dynamics from an impartial bystander, and it was also great to see her eventually open up a bit and get more invested with some of her classmates. I hated Holly with a passion, and I wanted to kick Ben's ass! And Michael? I just wanted to give him a big hug and keep him safe. But my point is that I don't always feel such intense feelings about characters when I'm reading, and it takes a pretty special book to make me get so emotionally involved.

Will you like this book?

Anybody looking for a more realistic Contemporary YA read should love this book!

Will I read more by this author?

Absolutely! I've heard great things about "Six Impossible Things", so I've already added that to my list of books to be read in the near future.
Profile Image for Morris.
964 reviews164 followers
September 6, 2014
This review is based on a complimentary copy given through Netgalley by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.

"Wildlife" by Fiona Wood is a book about two vastly different girls coming together during a semester in a wilderness type camp required by their school. It's set in Australia, and while the differences are strange at first, I thought it was fun to learn more about the life of teenagers there.

The book is absolutely beautifully written, and takes many twists and turns that I did not expect at all. The two main characters, along with a secondary character (Michael), were so well-developed that your heart breaks when theirs do, and you laugh when they laugh. The mood is up and down with the story, ranging from sad to embarrassing to hilarious, and it makes the whole thing realistic.

Speaking of realistic, there is a LOT of strong language and talk of sex in "Wildlife". It fits with the story, and I love when authors are brave enough to write how real teenagers speak, but I did want to mention it in case anyone likes to avoid those types of things.

The only reason I gave "Wildlife" four stars instead of five is because the ending felt somewhat rushed. It was a natural conclusion, but felt like it needed a couple of more chapters to make it seem less jarring. It was a bit like being on a pleasant drive and then slamming on the brakes. However, it is not anywhere near enough to ruin a wonderful book.

I highly recommend "Wildlife".
Profile Image for hollyishere.
154 reviews59 followers
July 14, 2013
Within fifty or so pages of this book I was hooked. I absolutely adored the writing style and found myself simply enjoying the humorous writing style rather than reading towards an impressive ending. I always seem to have a stronger connection with Aussie YA , particularly due to the quality novels that seem to be flowing my way as of late. I originally picked this book up because I enjoyed the authors previous novel, Six Impossible Things. This book is absolutely adorable and managed to win me over with a male protag.

This time around Fiona Wood has set her characters in an extended camp, of sorts. The chapters alternate between Lou and Sibylla, who each have their own demons to face over the school term at Mount Fairweather. Lou is grieving the loss of her boyfriend who was in a terrible bike accident, and Sibylla has gone from fairly unnoticed to having her photo displayed on billboards across the city which forces her to realise who her true friends are.

As I said earlier, I throughly enjoyed reading this book purely for the incredible writing style. I see the first half of the book as more a success, with the ending not as important with this novel. I wish the chapters had been labelled who those of us who failed to notice the chapters alternated between characters, forcing me to re-read a few chapters. Overall, I recommend this book to those who love a good contemporary YA :)
Profile Image for Cass -  Words on Paper.
820 reviews219 followers
June 16, 2013
OH MY GOD! I loved 'Six Impossible Things'!

+ Lou...

+ The multiple POVs (Sib & Lou). I like that Lou seemed like a fly on the wall at Bennett House, and her insight is delivered in a satisfyingly snarky manner. She's got her own issues to deal with and I liked the progression.

+ Sibylla...

+ Michael...

+ Friendship...

+ The campiness. Who hasn't been to camp? I remember disliking all the activities we were expected to do, no real choice. The crappy food. The strange feeling going somewhere other with people you'd only seen in the school setting. Scary stories and being spooked afterwards. Gossip. Lights out, and how no one really followed it. And how at the end of it, you're kind of sad to be leaving, even though things did get a bit bumpy half-way through. Wood extended reality in her writing; the events, environments and behaviours felt very true to the actual experience of camp, and it was almost like I was actually there.

+ Wood didn't shy away from the topic of sex. I like that Sib actually reacted, albeit after the fact, and assessed the situation. But I really don't want to talk about Ben.

+ The billboard, and perhaps what it represents. And what it does to her friendship...with Holly...with Michael.

~ Took a while for me to really get into the story. I adored Lou from the start.


More draft tk.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,010 reviews156 followers
September 12, 2016
What the hell do they put in the water in Australia? Is everyone born there just granted an innate ability to write perfectly rendered and believable teenagers?
Profile Image for Maryam.
259 reviews9 followers
July 23, 2015
I had higher hopes for this.

I saw the author, Fiona Wood, at the Meet The Writers Festival this year and she seemed like the most nicest person ever, so I wanted to read one of her books and I chose this one.

I feel like I would've enjoyed this book more if I were much much younger. But the targeted audience are teenagers (I'm a teenager), the only thing that made this book 'teenagery' were the sexual content and references.

This is a coming of age story and the thing is it's very... I don't know how to describe it... like a cookie-cutter coming of age story. There's no uniqueness to it, it's like every other coming of age book that I've read and this just made it so hard for me to get through it. Most coming of age novels have the same message and that's something along the lines of being more independent, letting go of people that bring you down, not giving in to peer pressure, using your voice, being true to yourself and so on. So often times they will be similar since they're all trying to send off the same exact message, so what differentiates them is the author's characters and writing style.

Fiona's writing style reading-wise was very fluent and easy for the most part but other parts I just cringed because it felt like it was trying too hard to be relatable like how Sybilla said that her mum thought that lol meant lots of love and she had to break it to her that in fact it did not. Like how many times have we heard that joke before? I also felt like the characters had no depth to them, I struggled to bond with any of them and I finished the book not knowing anything about anyone even our main characters. Not knowing anything other than Holly's the bitchy shitty friend, Sybilla is a victim of Holly's bitchy shitty friendship, Lou is the bias saint, Ben is the dickhead boy, Michael is the misunderstood bestfriend of Sybilla who's also in love with her.

They're all so cliche. I had a problem with Lou midway through the book she was supposed to be our neutral-ground person. The person who sort of just acts like a magazine, recounts the events but also gives her "unbiased" opinion on the events. But she didn't do that, we were constantly told how she keeps everyone an arm's length away but she was so obviously in favour of Sybilla throughout the entire thing and this would have been understable if they were friends. But they weren't they were strangers to each other. There were a lot of scenes where Sybilla would do something rude and just mean to Lou but Lou would never have the same reaction as she would if Holly had been the one to do it. She dissed Holly and said she hated her, but with Sybilla she always mentioned how she's just misunderstood. Even though everything that Holly did Sybilla was a part of. Lou's character was so obviously doing her job of trying to manipulate the reader, it was not at all smooth.

Holly was the most 2 dimensional character ever. Her main purpose was to make Sybilla's life miserable and that's all she did 24/7, not once did we see another side to her that was all. Sybilla on the other hand was the most stupidest person ever, the whole entire time she knew. She knew Holly was being a bad friend, that she wasn't getting treated right and she kept repeatedly saying things along the lines of "I'm always the last resort". "I'm tired of Holy trying to get involved in everything", "my mum thinks Holly is too controlling" and there were so many of these lines. Not only that but she also gave us montages of all the crap Holy had done to her throughout their friendship but at the end of every trip down memory lane she just said "Oh well That'S JusT Holly BEiNg hOllY agAIn." So we couldn't even perceive her as someone who's just naive and doesn't know what a friend should and shouldn't do because she knew the whole. entire. time.

Sybilla would say think things like, particularly the scenes she was with Ben, I don't like our relationship but I also don't want to look like a fool so I'm going to stick with him! Holly and Ben are getting too close and I don't like it because that's not what a best friend should do but I won't say anything! Lou just gave me a lecture on Holly being a bad friend but oh well! I won't do anything!

So yeah I didn't like any of the characters in the story unfortunately. I feel like to write a novel like this, and I'm no professional this is purely just my opinion. you need to make it more realistic. We know what a good friend and bad friend do because that's all school focuses on. We hear and learn about situations like peer pressure and the different situations we might get in in the future. We know about how to deal with bad friends. So to make a more stronger message we need something that shows us another side to this topic. All the situations in this book were situations that were given as examples in long homegroup at high school as to "what situations you might get into and how to handle it!". So we need a more realistic side things for example Holly could have been more manipulative in the way she did things rather than being a straight up bitch. Maybe if Sybilla actually was naive and thought of Holly as a good friend because of how much Holly had emotionally manipulated her, maybe if we had gotten more of Holly and her personality and motives.

If Sybilla had been more naive and genuinely lost and not just in denial. It would have been much better. The book could have ended with Sybilla actually realising Holly wasn't a good friend through support from Lou and her mother or family in general, rather than her just thinking I knew this was a long time coming I'm just choosing to end this now.

The plot in general was also very predictable, we knew the second Michael lost that letter that it would be a huge significant part of the book somehow and that she'd eventually let go of Holly and go to Sybilla and Michael. But to be honest I thought the book would take a sudden plot twist near the end but it didn't. I in general didn't like how quickly Michael forgave Sybilla.
Profile Image for Carlye Krul.
Author 1 book19 followers
July 13, 2020
I really hated this book. The character just picked two random people, threw them into some wilderness camp, and let them run wild. There was little to no character development and I couldn't even relate to Lou or Sib.

I had to skip past most of Sib's chapters because she pretty much only thought about having sex with Ben. There was no substance to her and Sib was blindly in love with the weirdest guy ever.

Lou wasn't much better. Her chapters were filled with unnecessary poetic words and metaphors that didn't make sense to the scene going on. She's more relatable then Sib, but I still disliked her.
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