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Wilder Girls #1

Wilder Girls

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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.

357 pages, Hardcover

First published July 9, 2019

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About the author

Rory Power

8 books2,814 followers
Rory Power grew up in New England, where she lives and works as a crime fiction editor and story consultant for TV adaptation. She received a Masters in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 14,985 reviews
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
947 reviews2,710 followers
April 26, 2022
I want it . I got it . I hate it.

Like I am so disappointed and frustrated because I expected it to be good but it was nothing like really nothing. I didn't get anything while reading it. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis is incredibly interesting as fuck ! But the book boring and it's not a retelling of lord of flies like it's advertised I guess it's more like inspired from it!


✒The story took place in an all girl's boarding school called Raxter situated on a island not far from mainland . The school is put under quarantine by USA navy due to outbreak of tox which mutated the girls and the teachers to the point that some of them died because of that and the others are not allowed to leave the school due to wild animals which are also mutated and only a pack of three girls are allowed to go out to bring food and stuff. Now the follows as to what happens when one of the character Byatt goes missing and her best friend Hetty will do everything to save her??

✒I liked the atmosphere , separation from outer world .
I loved the idea of tox and the
wild stuff but the the idea wasn't
Anywhere exciting or anywhere new for me.

✒Survival was key aspect and I really missed it.There wasn't much focus on it.

✒I loved the idea of body horror in the book like Hetty has an eyelid shut and a kind of flowering is growing behind it and then Byatt has a second spine and Reese has a silver metal claw, it was quite gross and disturbing but that was the point I guess.

✒F-F romance which wasn't the main plot of the book but I think it was selling point for most of the people but it didn't worked for me at all because of the fact that it came out of no where.


The book is more character driven than plot driven but at the same time I didn't connected with any of them.
I believe that if we get into characters head and thoughts and still don't get their personalities then it's a shame.
The characters in this book were flat to the point that , I don't care about them . They made some of the illogical and stupid decisions that idk, I feel like the book overall had no effect on me .


The writing style was one of the off points for me like it was kinda choppy, weird, unique,edgy and erratic but I believe she used it intentionally to reflect the chaotic nature of the island but it didn't worked for me. It was like thoughts upon thoughts like stream of conscious feelings and it was so
boring that it to keep my attention .


For those who haven't read the book , the ending was frustrating and disappointing for me.

The book is kinda polarising like either you will love it or didn't like it, there is no half way between ! And I in general didn't liked it .
Like whole time I was reading it I was wishing "Man this is so boring wish I was watching annihilation or fortitude right now" like it gave me same vibes.

Well I would recommend this book to people , because there are many 5 star reviews , you might like it but it didn't work for me..
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
October 27, 2020
“We don't get to choose what hurts us”

Did somebody say feminist horror cause there goes my money outta the window as I drool all over this cover.
Also just in: this book is hella gay.

Wilder Girls was one of my most anticipated books of 2019. The premise and cover gave me life and I was ready to experience all the horror and gore that they promised. I got what I wanted. So be warned. This book is violent and gory. Don't take this lightly. It's a ruthless story about an all-girls boarding school set on an island that has been overtaken by a plague called the tox. The island and all of its inhabitants, including the wildlife, have been transformed and countless girls have died at its hands. The ones that survived are left with gruesome (but kind of cool) deformities. A second spine. A scaled hand. Two hearts. Expect lots of death, blood, intestines, and violence. Body horror realness.

The characters are my wildest dreams come true. Unapologetic, unlikeable, determined, passionate, independent, queer, young women with complex characters and emotions. No need to say more. The writing was wild, too. I was immediately drawn into the story because it's often poetic, and just as untamed as the world it creates. There was one thing that I wasn't satisfied with though: the ending.

The reason I'm only giving four stars is that I felt somewhat detached from the book - for which I can only blame myself. It was the busiest time of the year, with deadlines and exams coming up, so it took my two weeks to finish the book. My reading experience suffered from it. As soon as I have my tbr a little more under control I'll return to Wilder Girls and give it another go. But overall, this book ticked all the boxes.

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Profile Image for Riley.
429 reviews21.7k followers
March 29, 2019
sapphic horror is my new favorite genre

this is probably one of my favorite covers of the year and I am so happy to say that the inside is just as amazing. this honestly ended up being a weird combination of everything i love in stories. it is a feminist lord of the flies following 3 friends who are under quarantine at a boarding school. when one of the friends goes missing it becomes a race to find her and figure out what the hell is happening on this island and uncover the secrets being kept from them. this also has a really great f/f relationship that I died over!

as for the horror elements. this isn't "jump scare" horror but more "makes your skin crawl" with some of the creepy elements, which I personally loved. I would say if you liked the movie Annihilation then you will love this!
if you would like to take a look at the content warnings the author has kindly shared them on her website

this was one of the more unique YA books I've read recently and I loved how it didn't shy away from the brutality of what was happening. there was also a cool stylistic choice with the writing that I think worked really well and added to the creepy vibe.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
October 13, 2022
3-3.5 STARS

"It's like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don't know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over."

I can see why Rory Power's debut novel Wilder Girls is getting serious buzz; it's not just a pretty cover, as it contains an excellent writing style that wavers between flowery prose and captivating horror. In terms of idea and compulsive page-turning, this book deserves all of the stars, but I did find a few points worth mentioning, in case your expectations are not in the right place, as mine clearly were not. All of my criticisms are purely personal preference, so please do not put too much weight in them and instead, use them to decide whether this might be the right book for you.

Friends, I cannot express how much I love the idea behind this story. The feminist YA dystopian theme is taking the world by storm right now, and it's definitely my favorite genre at the moment. We are being blessed with so many unique, inspiring allegories that my heart can hardly handle it, and the author has clearly put her heart, soul, and bottomless well of love and emotion for all females into this novel. I cannot applaud her highly enough for accomplishing such a feat as clearly and intelligently expressing her message in a way that is available to any reader to comprehend. Insert standing ovation.

The plot is relatively straight forward; we're dropped into the setting of Raxter School for Girls, which is off the coast of Maine, roughly 2 years after the Tox has set in. The Tox is an infection that has swept over every living thing on the island, and therefore all inhabitants of said island are quarantined while the CDC and U.S. Navy are trying to figure out a cure. This "Tox" manifests symptoms in a different way for each person, and the flare ups typically come as the seasons change. Sounds excellent, right? It is, but I think the execution of this story is what hindered my full enjoyment, as I was expecting something entirely different.

While I was expecting a brief intro, followed by some action, sleuthing, and major revelations, what I got was more along the lines of a significant info dump in the first 35% of the novel, followed by repetitive scenes of introspection, and under-developed sapphic plot lines. Let me explain: I was hoping more for a sense of "showing" rather than "telling" when it came to the explanation and revelations involving the Tox, but what we get is the first third of the book filling us in on what the characters know so far about the disease. It's not necessarily a flaw, but I did feel more like I was reading a really long prologue waiting for the story to begin, rather than being filled in with pieces throughout the story. There are some really great action scenes, terrifying revelations, and creative plot devices used in this story, but they were overshadowed by multiple scenes of teenage bickering, and perhaps this is where I need to state that I am NOT the intended target audience, and this may be the very type of thing that teens enjoy reading these days. Also, and again to my fault, I somehow had gotten the impression that this book would be featuring a prominent lesbian relationship, and there are a few (it is an island full of only females, after all), but this also felt chalked up to untapped potential by focusing mostly on the "we're dating today, 12 hours later we're broken up" instead of building a swoon-worthy romance with relevant conflict.

This sounds mostly negative, and I truly don't mean for it to, because I did overall enjoy this and count anything 3 stars and up as a positive reading experience, but I just needed to take a moment to place all my thoughts here and sort through them over the next few days. Other reviewers have touched on this, so I feel that I should as well, but the ending leaves much to be desired. I'm not sure if this is a setup for a future series, as there are many, MANY major questions left unanswered, but perhaps what I failed to realize in my reading is that, the point isn't about the who/what/when/where/why/hows surrounding the Tox and what comes next, but simply around the allegories to female struggles today. If so, I highly respect and appreciate what Power has done here, and based on her talented, thoughtful, and unique debut, I would be honored to read another book written by her.

**Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
November 30, 2019
An interesting premise with a romance that surprised and intrigued me, but unfortunately I couldn't find myself connecting to any of the characters.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
April 13, 2021

New week, New BookTube Video - all about the best (and worst) literary apocalypses to live through!
The Written Review

We don't get to choose what hurts us.
The Raxter School for Girls is on an island and for the past few months, they've been put on the strictest of quarantines.

There's something - a disease? creature? magic? - that's been infecting the girls and surrounding wildlife.
It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.
The teachers are dying one-by-one, the critters in the forest have become creatures and the remaining girls? Who knows how long they have left.
Some days it’s fine. Others it nearly breaks me.
Hetty's best friend, Bryatt, goes missing.

Hetty is supposed to assume her friend is dead but quickly learns there's so much more behind it.

Hetty must decide whether to accept her fate or to breach the gates, break the quarantine and brave the world.

Oh man.

I loved it...and then I hated it. This book was 110% 5 stars until the end.

The beginning hooked me right away. The concept was super unique - the mutations that the girls experienced, the weirdness from the shifting world and the relationships between them were super intriguing and engaging.

The middle really kept that momentum going for me. I was SO into this book. I literally couldn't put it down.

The imagery was brilliant and the setting was so eerie and creepy-good.

Then we approached the end and it went down (what felt to me like) several very cliche paths that ultimately took away from the quality of the book.

It soured it for me and considering this one seems to be a standalone, I'm frustrated that that will be the final ending.

Ultimately, most of it was stunning...it just didn't hold all the way through.

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Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews942 followers
April 8, 2019
Well here's something I never thought I'd never say, this book should have been at least another 100 pages longer.

The premise for this book is really exciting and the cover is fabulous but the execution is sorely lacking.

The story picks up some year+ after a remote school for girls is ravaged with a devastating virus and subsequently quarantined.

Notice how I said "picks up". Very little backstory is ever given about the onset of the virus. How it all started and progressed leading up to the quarantine and beyond. For me, the most compelling part of the story was omitted.

This book features three best friends that have seemingly settled into this horrific existence as much as could be expected, even going so far as finding some appreciation for their newly found strengths and Independence. Again, some history of the events that lead the girls to this point, including a more in-depth storyline as to what brought them to the island in the first place would have been nice.

When one of the girls goes missing after a flare-up in her illness, the other two set on a course to find out what happened to her only to discover that all is not as it seems. Shocker.

The reader is never enlightened as to what the cause of or how this illness started. Why did it only occur on this island? Why does it manifest in such different ways from person to person?

Basically nothing is ever revealed, from the history to the present, making it hard to connect with this story and it's characters.

The abrupt ending is perplexing. Will there be a sequel? More importantly, can we get a prequel? It seems the author forgot to include the entire backstory from this book.

I would be interested in reading a second book because the ending leads you to believe that the next chapter could be a thrilling one. Additionally, the author has a real flair for atmospheric world building and what I did learn of the characters was fascinating.

And who knows, maybe I'll get that history after all.

2.5 Stars rounded up ⭐⭐⭐

*** I received an ARC from Random House in exchange for an honest review. ***
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
March 21, 2022
4 damn what did I get myself into…We’re not in Kansas anymore…I’m sure this book takes place in earth, this might be closest highway to hell, say goodbye to your classical contagion, post-apocalyptic , LGBTQ- survival- now or never themes, this is so much mind-blowing and earth shattering stars!


Testing your survival skills! CHECK!
Testing your friendship and your loyalty/honesty. CHECK!
Testing yourself how much you’re ready to lose from your humanity to stay alive! DOUBLE CHECK!

If you want some sunshine and rainbow book, just skip this and stick with your rom-coms! This is one of the ugliest, darkest, nerve bending, frustrating project. You have to be sure before taking your few steps to the flaming corners of hell paved with so so bad intentions, because you’re about to get burned by reading this thing. If you are not ready enough to absorb harsh, merciless details, again skip this book! It’s really hard to digest that makes you choked!

So the story starts at an isolated girls’ school located in Maine( If this place gives Stephen King so much inspiration, it might be one of the creepiest and chilling places on earth so the author made a great choice.) I normally not get scared so easily but the Tox’s effects on the girls and the unknown things moving inside them parts ( same theme used by Guillermo del Toro’s last horror movie “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”. ) got on my nerves, irritated me so much that I want to throw at this book as if my hands are being burned. A few breathing exercise later, I took my book back into my hands and started bleeding and reading. ( Yes, reading this book makes you feel like you’re stabbing too many times by the author’s harsh quirks. At least I have high tolerance pain level.)

Most things I liked is the way of the story telling. It was realistic, valid, raw, harsh but giving the simple facts of truth, direct, capturing. And the other thing is the characters. I liked to see the progression of characters when they encounter with the hardest, shittiest, challenging situations, how they change, evolve, fight against to survive, what can they risk, how to accomplish surviving without losing every piece of their humanities.

The two things bugged me about the book are:
1)It was a little slow-paced and short book for me. I wanted to dive in the story faster with more facts and I needed at least 100 or more pages. I didn’t want it finish so soon.

2)I wanted to learn more about the reason of illness! When did it start? Why each girl reacted differently to the disease? Why it started in only this island? Too many answered questions force the readers request a sequel sooner.

As a summary, I got my angsty, shocking, cheek slapping, shoulder-shaking- nail-biter, mind-numbing story that I deserved! But I need more! The readers need to a sequel or another longer book from same genre!

Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
July 30, 2019
I didn't love this and I am SO SAD about it. I did enjoy the first half of the book, but the ending was such a let down that it honestly tainted any positive feelings I had for whatever came before it. The biggest womp.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
November 14, 2019
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST YA FANTASY 2019! what will happen?

Some days it’s fine. Others it nearly breaks me. The emptiness of the horizon, and the hunger in my body, and how will we ever survive this if we can’t survive each other? “We’re gonna make it. Tell me we’re gonna make it.”

so much about this book is so good. the synopsis. the premise. the chillsiness it delivers. the characters. the tantalizing dislocation of WHAT IS THIS THAT IS HAPPENING? the dread and unease. the tension. that goddamn cover.

i did not love it unconditionally, but what i did love i loved HARD.

set on an island-isolated girls’ school in maine, the reader is dropped instantly into an atmosphere of extreme and horrific circumstances: what was once a fully-functioning, fully-populated school has been diminished by a mysterious affliction known as the tox, wiping out all but two of the teachers and most of the students, with terrible consequences for the ones who managed to stay alive.

the school is located off the coast of a naval base, who have ordered the island quarantined and promised that the CDC is working on a cure. meanwhile, the navy has been providing supplies by way of boat drop-offs collected by the few girls allowed to travel beyond the walled-off school grounds, but the quantity and quality of the supplies have worsened the longer the situation continues, the packages themselves oddly composed: Even when there’s no bread, there’s always shampoo, and the girls are all but starving as they cluster together in the school, functioning in a mostly cooperative free-for-all setup, awaiting the next outbreak.

and the outbreaks are intense. They cycle in seasons, each one worse than before until we can’t bear it anymore, and, if the girls survive, they are left each time with a different physical reminder of their ordeal: glowing hair, silver scales, or with more monstrously disfiguring body horror manifestations; bones protruding through the skin, eyes fused shut, with “something” growing underneath…

It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.

the patterned timing of the flare-ups, the age of the victims, the ceremonial rite-of-passage way they acknowledge a girl’s first episode gives it a very OUR CHANGING BODIES vibe, and girls know all too well the bloody body-horror transformations of puberty even without something like the tox, but this goes beyond allegory, the girls keep on dying, and it’s unclear whether the root cause is illness, toxin, biological agent, etc, but it’s one that has also affected the local wildlife, causing forest-dwellers like foxen, bears, and bobcats to be a little bigger, more aggressive and more desperately hungry, as misshapen as the humans.

There used to be horses, four of them, but early in the first season, we noticed how the Tox was starting to get inside them like it got inside us, how it was pushing their bones through their skin, how it was stretching their bodies until they screamed. So we led them out to the water and shot them.

so far, it is everything i love and all the best parts of Lord of the Flies, The Village, Pure: survival in a dangerous landscape, mysterious and terrifying illness, giant freaking animals, teen girls with guns and shifting loyalties and EXOSKELETONS and important decisions to make about trust and love and loyalty and how and when to play your cards and all of the seeeeeekrits that go with the us v. them situation of limited resources and even-more-limited information and not knowing what’s really going on ‘out there.’

i love the characters, the switching POVs, the escalating tensions and the bold authorial moves. but then that ending. that’s no way to say good-bye. i assume it’s a case of where they’re interested in a follow-up book but want to see how this debut sells before committing to a follow-up, but i’m not in love with where the book cuts off. the final scene works as a final scene and an appropriate ending-mood, but there’s too much left unresolved before that sunlit-water-for-credits-to-roll-over ambiguous optimism. i was expecting a standalone book, and this feels unfinished. i loved it until then, but unfortunately, that’s how books work: the last thing you read-feel is what looms largest in your mind, and for me, it was a quiet disappointment. everything else, though, thumbs up!

now gimmie a second book!


that ending...... review to come.



come to my blog!
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,196 followers
Want to read
December 24, 2019
Imagine how this cover would look in a hardcover copy...literally chills
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
July 15, 2019
another debut feminist dystopia, another underwhelmed jessica. seems pretty on brand for me at the moment, unfortunately.

and this is probably going to be the worst review ive ever written because i cant even put into words why this didnt quite work for me. it wasnt a horrible reading experience - i was focused and finished it - so im gonna chalk it up to me not being in the right mood for this, because i cant really find anything super negative about it. i just didnt experience the emotions i think i was supposed to for this kind of story.

i think this was probably a ‘wrong book at the wrong time’ kind of situation for me. i need to learn, that when this happens, to set the book aside and come back to it, rather than push though and give it a mediocre rating/review. not really fair.

regardless, im happy to see that this is getting so much hype and praise from others!

3 stars
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,942 followers
April 5, 2019
Because this cover is freaking everything!!

Holy Sh*t Snacks!

I need more answers right now! Where is book two; geez I just finish this book and need another one. I mean there has to be another one because of that ending!

So, this is told through two POV's; Hetty & Byatt. But there they have another best friend Reese who is very prominent in the book.

All of these girls live at the Raxter School For Girls. The school is on an island but it seems to be a fairly big island unless I missed something while reading so fast to get to the next page! The island has every type of wild animal on it as well and yes, that's a thing in this book.

The book doesn't lead up to the Quarantine, we learn about that in bits and pieces through-out the book. As you can read from the summary, there is a disease/virus (whatever) called Tox. Teachers and some of the girls have been killed by it. But there are those that have just been changed by it. What the hell is it? I know some of what it is but I'm not telling you. It makes me squirm though.

There are certain groups of girls that are picked to be on a team to go out and get supply boxes that are dropped for the girls from some peeps. You know, clothes, food, medicine, etc. But there are some really weird things going on. Now I haven't read the book "ANNIHILATION" but I have seen the movie and it does remind me a bit of that movie.

One day something happens to Byatt and she suddenly disappears from medical. She's just gone?! So Hetty sets out on a mission to find her along with Reese and they find some really messed up stuff.

There are a lot of bad things that happen to the girls in the school, but I will leave that for you to read about. Also, I have already pre-ordered this book!

*Thank you to Netgalley for a digital copy of the book for review.*

Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,095 reviews17.7k followers
April 5, 2020
A group of girls are trapped at an island boarding school as their bodies mutate and change underneath them.

In trying to consider why this book worked so well for me, I keep coming back to this: This is one of the most chilling books I have ever read. (If you’re really turned off by body horror probably don’t read this. I mean it.) The writing is excellent—the odd style, slipping between long sentences and short beats, contributes well to the atmosphere—and the anxious tone is wonderful.

We follow three characters:
→Hetty : An unassuming hero. Better at making the hard choices than you initially expect.
→Byatt : A lot of unexpected backstory. Also my least favorite character on a personal level.
→Reese : Very complicated and very damaged by the loss of her father. Also would’ve totally been my type two years ago.

The complicated dynamics of friendships between queer girls are a front center of this book. Reese, Hetty, and Byatt have a complex dynamic, built up by years of baggage; Byatt is the friend in the middle, the person they’re both close to. Hetty envies her dynamic with Reese, and maybe is a little jealous, too—of one or both. Two things:

The building of the world forms a strange metaphor for two things: one, growing up as a girl, and two, consumption of body. As the main characters’ bodies change underneath them, they feel differentiated, othered from themselves. But those changes are not necessarilly always bad, not for every person.

I loved this book; actually, this book was working pitch-perfect for me. Yes, certain plot points at times went unexplained, but it worked: I was as confused as the characters, leaving me on the edge of my seat, and I felt confident the payoff would be worthwhile. There was very little, I thought, that could mess up how much I liked the book. Except for… the ending. In her review, Hadeer put it that the payoff was not proportional to the setup, which is a really clever way of putting it so I’m quoting that.

TW: body horror, on-page death, animal death, suicide, and non-consensual medical treatment.

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Profile Image for Rory Power.
Author 8 books2,814 followers
October 29, 2018
hi! i wrote this! if you are looking for content warnings and trigger warnings, you can find them here: https://itsrorypower.com/wilder-girls/

if there's anything missing from the list that you feel should be there, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me - there's a contact form on my website

okay bYE
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
July 9, 2019
Wilder Girls could have been a feminist horror story, but it didn't quite get there for me.

Rory Power talents shine in writing horror, to be sure. Sick teenage girls, plagued with deformities, hungry and scared for their lives, always in peril, always on the brink of death. Power is so good at writing body horror and capturing the thrills of something evil lurking just around the corner. But then she doesn't embrace the strength of her allegorical writing and falls for explaining things that don't need explaining and arrives at the ending that practically begs on its knees to have a sequel to over-explain things some more.

It could have been a story about the nature of girlhood. Why does this strange sickness let some girls survive and transform? What is so special about these girls? How are they different from the rest of the world? The most promising snippet of the novel for me was one girl's contemplation of if she had a cure, would she keep her deformities. Would they keep their double spines and extra hearts and gills and scaly arms? Some would. But nothing interesting came out of this in the end.

A good editor, with the right questions, could have guided Rory Power down the path of an allegorical feminist feverish dream. But the one she got made the author succumb to more conventional contagion genre tropes and underwhelming and underdeveloped scientific explanations of the causes of the sickness.

It'd not a bad first effort, but I think it will satisfy neither fans of the epidemic-type books, nor those who appreciate more elevated literary quality of Power's style.

I personally liked the writing, but needed more feminism and less science. The lone boy was an unwanted addition too, to be honest.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
968 reviews849 followers
July 6, 2020
It’s darker, it’s meaner, it’s fracturing, it’s singular. It gives you too much and not enough. This was something else and loved it even when it upset me.

Concept: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★
Unique factor: ★★★★★

I wasn't ready for Wilder Girls. When I sat down with my cup of tea and opened it in my cushy chair, I thought I was ready for a Lord of the Flies-type tale with bio-human interactions and a dash of f/f sprinkled amidst a feminist beautiful nightmare. My tea quickly turned cold, abandoned. I couldn't stop, wasn't sure if I wanted to, and when I finished I just sat there, pondering my very existence and the fact that I now had a new favorite book that I wasn't sure I'd ever want to read again—but would never forget.

The Tox took over Raxter Island, and the all-girls school was quickly quarantined to contain the spread. The Navy promised food, supplies, and a cure...as long as the girls waited patiently on the grounds, and stuck to the quarantine.

But time is running out, and the girls are dying.

Hetty, Byatt, and Reese are three of the older girls at Raxter, and their triad has endured over a year of the Tox, the quarantine, and the creeping insanity befalling the girls. Hetty's eye has grown into something else, Reese's hand is now silver-scaled, and Byatt's found herself with two bony spines—yes, this novel deals with graphic depictions of bodies morphing into Other. Overall, the girls consider themselves lucky as others suffer worse manifestations of the Tox's spread. Some don't even make it through the first flush.

This is a gritty story. Alternating the POV between Hetty and Byatt, Wilder Girls details the events that happen as Hetty realizes what exactly is happening to Raxter Island, and what it means for those still trapped in the infestation. At times horrifying, at times poignant, this is a singular story that brings to mind the YA horror novels of Dawn Kurtagich and the sci-fi horror explorations of Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation. It's no coincidence that they were chosen for the back matter blurbs, and I'd say that the authors chosen for the blurbs are decidedly more indicative of Wilder Girls' contents that other novels (that's as close I can get without spoilers).

Definitely a new favorite—but I like my speculative tinged with darkness so I'd advise the casual YA reader to read some reviews before diving right into this one.

Thank you so much to Delacorte Press for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.


Original notes: I don’t even know. It’s darker, it’s meaner, it’s fracturing, it’s singular. It gives you too much and not enough. This was something else and I’m still staring into space, trying to collapse back into myself. Review to come!
Profile Image for ;3.
441 reviews885 followers
July 17, 2019

and THIS is why i will never live near the woods. props to them for enduring all of that shit tho bc i would’ve offed myself on the first day
Profile Image for Rodrigo Unda.
Author 1 book4,012 followers
January 25, 2023
Chale, hace mucho no le ponía una estrella a un libro. Pero este se lo ganó a creces.

Una portada hermosa y una premisa súper interesante… para terminar siendo un libro desordenado, con personajes planos y una trama que jamás me hizo sentido.

La escritura se me hizo tediosa y aburrida. Las partes que más me intrigaban y tenían potencial de desarrollo (perspectiva de Byatt y romance de Hetty), fueron las que más desaprovechó la autora. Sin quitar lo absurdo de varias escenas.

LO QUE MÁS CORAJE ME DA ES QUE NO CERRÓ NINGÚN ARCO. Todo queda inconcluso aún para ser la primera parte de una bilogía. Pareciera que la autora le dio flojera continuar con la historia.

Y el dichoso “plot twist”, fue lo más absurdo y predecible de la vida. La verdad es que me sorprende no haber abandonado este libro antes, pero es que realmente creí que la historia mejoraría con el paso de los capítulos.

Ay dios. Igual es mi perspectiva, pero genuinamente odie este libro. Y para que yo diga algo así, está difícil.

Le doy una estrella por su portada bonita y porque no se le puede poner 0 😅
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
828 reviews4,706 followers
August 16, 2019
A modern day, female Lord of the Flies - count me in!

I must confess that I bought this book solely based on the cover! Isn’t it gorgeous? Well, it turned out the story within the beautiful outer wrapping was everything I hoped for which is even better!

Rory Power did an amazing job of building this world within a world. Essentially the story is about 3 friends (Hetty, Reese and Byatt) attending the Raxter School for Girls when the school is hit with sudden, unexplained illness requiring quarantine. Soon the girls find themselves cut off from the rest of the world with very little supplies, struggling to survive their illness and fighting for their lives on an island being torn apart by the “Tox”.

I have seen reviews where readers have had issues with the book’s lack of answers and while I understand their point of view, this aspect actually worked for me. In my mind, I was as blind as the 3 main characters and uncovered bits and pieces with them. Seeing things from their POV made the story all the more interesting for me. We don’t have all the answers because they don’t either.

I adored these girls - each with their own personality, secrets and backstory. They were strong, determined, loyal and fierce. Definitely the kind of girls I’d want in my corner if the world was falling apart around me!

I hope this was a start of a series. The ending leaves further books a possibility and I’d love to see where it’s all headed. So keep writing Hetty, Reese and Byatt’s story Rory Power - I’ll definitely be following along on their journey.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
701 reviews3,352 followers
December 20, 2020
2019 Best Books of the Year [#06 of 11]

Brutal, arresting, and utterly bewitching feminist spin on Lord of the Flies. A top read of 2019, for sure.

There used to be horses, four of them, but early in the first season, we noticed how the Tox was starting to get inside them like it got inside us, how it was pushing their bones through their skin, how it was stretching their bodies until they screamed. So we led them out to the water and shot them.
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
634 reviews570 followers
July 28, 2020
Actual rating: 4,5 stars

I don’t even know where to start when it comes to reviewing Wilder Girls.
It was gory, detailed and it is definitely not for readers with weak stomach, but at the same time it was brilliant!

I loved almost everything about this novel, from main to side characters, plot and the mystery, but what I liked the most was the creepy atmosphere that felt so real.

The writing style is excellent and I still can’t believe this is Power’s debut novel. I now want to read everything she writes in the future, that’s how impressed I am with her voice.

This book is written in first person, following two perspectives: Hetty’s and Byatt’s. I loved how their voices sound so different, that even if there weren’t note about change of perspective, readers would notice in no time.
Also, when one of the girls was drugged it was obvious in her voice, and I appreciate those little (important) things so much!

As I previously stated, this book is not for everyone. Lovers of gory scenes will love it, but those who are more sensitive will probably want to close their eyes at some scenes (but how can you close your eyes when reading, that is the question!).

I rarely find novels that keep me so invested from start to finish like this one has.
It was entertaining but also so mysterious that I just had to know what will happen’ to our girls and what is behind this Tox that caused all the trouble for them.

I loved how everything in this novel was backed up with logic and science, and how (in the end) it wasn’t too far from our real life.

The only thing I would change was to add an epilogue. You see, Wilder Girls have an open ending, and I usually don’t mind them (in fact, I am pretty fond of them) but this time I would be more happy if we found out what destiny there was for our characters after the point where the story ended.
The only (sort of) explanation that comes to my mind is that even if this was planned to be a standalone, maybe the publisher gave the writer a chance if the sales were good she could write the sequel (which I’ll be happy to read one day).

One more thing I have to mention: this book is the one that represents LGBTQ community, but at the same time it is not a love story and there is no romance. There is some chemistry but it is all we get (which is realistic because it those life conditions I assume love and sex come last to your mind).

Overall, I loved this book and I recommend it to lovers of gory scenes and stories, and to ya lovers with strong stomach.
It is appropriate to read at any time, but I suggest you to read it at night, in the fall or as a Halloween pick.

Read this and more reviews on my blog https://bookdustmagic.com
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,297 reviews27.9k followers
August 29, 2019
DNF at 200 pages
This book isn’t bad by any means, it just wasn’t really for me. The writing is very strange and this story is very strange and it took a long time to get into it, and even after I got used to the writing style and even began to appreciate it - I still couldn’t connect with these characters at all. The writing is very atmospheric and haunting and at times it’s beautiful, but at times it’s also vivid and disturbing. I think this author is a great writer and I see a lot of potential here, but this book just didn’t do it for me. It was definitely out of my comfort zone because it’s very dystopian-feel sci-fi horror vibes. I love that it’s queer, that was about the only thing that made me continue reading because of my interest in the romances happening. This book gave me the same vibes as the movie Annihilation with the female power and the sci-fi and the visually disturbing things happening to their bodies.

I wanted to love this but I just couldn’t get into it the way I wanted to. I can see why other people might love this book but it just wasn’t my thing.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,113 followers
November 9, 2021
“Keep the quarantine, they said. Follow the rules and we’ll help you…A year and a half of empty sky, of not enough medicine, of bodies burning behind the school. We have to help ourselves.”

3.5 ⭐️

Me, inadvertently reading horror book after horror book 😱

The Raxter School for Girls has been under quarantine for 18 months due to a disease known as Tox. It affects the girls in different ways, such as growing a second spine, going blind in one eye and even growing scales.

It also affects the land around the school, causing animals to go feral and trees to grow unnaturally.

We follow Hetty, and her best friends Byatt and Reese. Day to day life is awful, there is hardly enough food delivered, the girls frequently go hungry when they aren’t ripping each other apart for the best food.

When Byatt has a flare up, Hetty visits the infirmary. But Byatt isn’t there. Where else could she be?

Up until this point I was gripped, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. But as I rushed to the end hoping that was where the answers would be, I found it lacking.

I loved what we were given, I just would have liked more.

Today is a good day.
Had my second covid jab on Sunday and felt terrible yesterday.
But I am better now and some of my anticipated library books have just come in.

Positive vibes 😊
Profile Image for ✨faith✨trust✨pixiedust✨.
399 reviews381 followers
July 9, 2019
I received this ARC from Delacorte Press via BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of this book in any way. All quotes are taken from the uncorrected proof and are subject to change.

I better be getting a sequel or I will personally strangle Rory Power.

The Tox didn't just happen to us. It happened to everything.

Obligatory Summary

It's been 18 months since an insidious and horrific disease known as the Tox took over Raxter Island, and the girls trapped there are beginning to unravel. The Tox takes something from each of them, humans and animals alike—some their eyes, some their sanity—and gives them something else in return.

Hettie and her two best friends, Byatt and Reese, have managed to maintain a friendship throughout all this turmoil. But things are changing, and when one of them disappears, Hettie will do whatever it takes to find her.

Part psychological thriller, part psychological horror, Wilder Girls is about bodies and minds and how to break both.

There's this place in her, somewhere nobody can touch, not me or Reese or anyone. It's just hers, and I don't even know what it is, really, just that it's there, and that she takes it with her when she goes.

My Thoughts

Phenomenal!! Absolutely phenomenal!!! I've never read a book more accurately compared to another work of fiction; Wilder Girls truly is the YA Annihilation, for both the book and the movie version. It's also very similar to Lord of the Flies in all the best ways. It's atmospheric. It's spooky. It's got all the feels. It gives you burgeoning existential dread. I loved every second of it.

The writing is a tad difficult to get into at first, but once you're in, you really can't get out. It has a very stream-of-consciousness style that usually doesn't work for me with first person, but it worked amazingly well in this. Those messy, confusing scenes were some of my absolute favorites, and I can't wait to reread this just to experience them again.

I think I have been a problem all my life. Here I am where problems go. First Raxter and now here, and I have always been heading here, haven't I, haven't I. Too bright and too bored and something missing, or perhaps something too much there.

I will warn you now: this emulates Annihilation in more than just atmosphere and eco-spooks. It has one of the most open endings I've ever read for a book that isn't in a confirmed series. It's more vague than The Giver (and that did get confirmed!) I personally didn't mind it (that much; I am willing to strangle Rory Power if I never get an answer, mind you) but I can imagine it bothering a lot of people. I've generally accepted that horror usually doesn't give you any concrete answers, because explanations tend to eliminate the spook factor. I mean, just look at Lost.

As for characters, I did get a little bored with Hettie sometimes, but only because of certain things that were happening with Byatt at the same time and I really wanted to know her side of things more than Hettie's. Overall, though, I loved all the characters. I loved the LGBTQ+ inclusion, and how it wasn't done in a self-indulgent, ~ooh, look at me! I'm inclusive~ kind of way. It was natural and realistic and I loved it. The way Power planted little seeds of character development (and really, worldbuilding too) and then expanded on them in a reveal either shortly after or way later was honestly so masterful. I will literally rave about how well everything was set up for hours if you let me.

A wilderness in everyone, like the one I've always felt in me. Only real this time. In my body, and not just in my head.

Essentially, it all comes down to this. TL;DR this was lovely and if you like body horror and Lord of the Flies, then you'll probably love this.
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