This past week I picked up a copy of Wilder Girls by Rory Power. If you haven’t heard of this book circulating the YA social networks, I’d be surprised. Many describe it as feminist-horror and its subtle lesbian romance was an excellent change of pace that I didn’t know I was craving. And now I want more!
This book was a trip. A trip that I was more than happy to go on.
One part Annihilation and one part Lord of the Flies, I loved this book.
The writing itself is something to get used to. It’s very clipped with short jarring sentences punctuated with comma’s but it worked really well and the pace was fast and carried me from beginning to end like a river of mystery. I had read reviews stating that readers couldn’t get into it because of the writing and the pacing so I was prepared for this. You really do have to hang on past those first few chapters to start getting a feel for the world. Powers fleshes out life on Raxter There were many times when I felt grossed out and others when I felt like crying for these girls. They are tortured by their bodies and by the virus (called the Tox) that turns their own flesh in on themselves.
And the ending left me both wanting more and yet also wanting nothing at all – it was perfect the way it was and allowed my imagination to take over, I’ve been thinking of the possibilities of what could have happened next for the past three days since I finished it. And I LOVE that. Too many authors try to keep going, to explain everything but I loved that the author chose to leave it up to the reader much like the book The Giver. We aren’t really told what happened or how things ended.
I couldn’t put this book down, I read it in just a few days and that was only because I had to stop and do some adulting or I’d have happily read it within a day!
As for it being a feminist book. I didn’t pick up on anything specifically feminist about it. All girl cast? Check. Lesbian romance? Check. Girls fighting for their own survival? Check. But does this mean it is feminist? Not really. For me, this read more as a metaphor for what happens when a girls body seemingly turns on itself when puberty hits. It was an excellent exploration/exploitation of the tumulous emotions young girls feel during this time; both deeply familiar and yet wholly alien. Able to feel those changes inside their bodies, much like the way Hetty feels things moving around inside her skull. It could even be used as a double metaphor for the way the LGBTQIA+ community feels as well – never feeling like they quite belong while feeling changes that are both terrifying and yet intriguing. Knowing that no one person is ever effected in the same way. It’s different for everyone, much like how the Tox effects the girls of Raxter.
Overall I loved this book. I think the only thing I would have wanted more of would have been to see the strange wildlife on Raxter. The humans aren’t the only ones affected by the Tox and we get some interesting descriptions of fanged, meat-eating, deer and an insanely large bear and a man turned plant (similar to Annihilation in both regards). I would have liked to have known what else was on that island as we are given hints to something else, something large and glowing, but never get to see it.
Despite this one flaw, I recommend it for readers looking for something different. Something strange. Something terrifying. Something wild.
Trigger and Content Warnings:
Violence. Body horror. Gore.
Death of young children and adults, graphically so.
Starvation. Withholding of food/medicine (not receiving insulin, etc.)
Non-consensual medical treatment.
You can order Wilder Girls on Amazon here: Wilder Girls