ARC Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Genre: Mystery, Sci-fi(?)
Source: ARC borrowed from Chloe
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 9th 2019
Hardcover, 368 pages

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.

I want to start off my review thanking Chloe @ The Elven Warrior for being the best and letting me borrow her ARC of Wilder Girls when she heard how much I wanted to read it. This book was a thrill ride from page one. Rory has a beautiful style of writing that brought the world of Raxter and The Tox alive before my eyes. This book was unlike anything I have ever read before and left chills down my spine as I read.

As I mentioned in my Teaser Review for Wilder Girls is that the idea behind this book is terrifying and really makes you think about human evolution and viruses and things that can change the course of human history. It also brings into question the issue of climate change and the disastrous effects that that can have on microorganisms. I think the science behind Wilder Girls was amazing and the development of each character and the anomalies they developed because of The Tox was amazingly done. 

I really loved Hetty's character and it was easy for me to relate to her. You can see through out the story how she struggles with what is right and wrong and how she feels responsible for some of the events that happen in the novel (Even though for many of them she wasn't at fault for.) You can see how The Tox and the quarantine as well as losing her sight in one eye has put a strain on her and her relationships with the other girls. But with the quarantine and effect and the food supplies low it is easy to see how everyone is tense. 

I liked Byatt's chapters for the sake we got to see what was happening after she went missing and we go a little more insight on her character. I love that Rory wrote her POV as fragmented and with a lot of repeated language. It showed through the pages her hysteria and desperation and as well as her confusion in being in this situation. We learn also that Byatt is a master manipulator and that it is one of the reasons her parents sent her to Raxter. Byatt's use of manipulation actually causes someone to become infected with The Tox. 

Though Hetty and Reese's sexuality isn't explained in Wilder Girls, it is a female/female romance. I loved that Rory didn't make it a cookie cutter romance that so many other young adult books fall victim too. The romance between Reese and Hetty is flawed and complicated. It isn't perfect, but essentially love is never going to be 100% perfect all the time. The actions that Hetty had to take in certain parts of Wilder Girls put a strain on their budding romance. By the end of the novel their relationship is very open still, but I like to think that they were able to work through the ordeal on Raxter island and continue their relationship. 

*Slight spoilers in this paragraph!*
Wilder Girls was left really open ended and I can see the potential for another book. But at the same time the book had a haunting atmosphere and that's the sort of note on how this book ends. Do these girls live? What exactly is going to happen to Byatt? Do they cure The Tox? There are a lot of questions but it is also up to the reader at this point to come to these conclusions. To me they get rescued and there is a cure, Hetty is reunited with her family and Reese goes with her and Byatt reverts back to her bubbly self. But that is me and I am excited to see how other readers are going to interpret that. 

Overall, I really loved Wilder Girls and I can't wait to read any of Rory's future novels. Her writing is a breathe of fresh air in the young adult genre. Wilder Girls is a book that is a must read for 2019 and is a fabulous debut novel. 

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