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.
Review: 4 Stars
I have had an eARC of this book for a while now, but recently I have started to see this book everywhere, so I decided it was time to read it. I don’t read a lot of dystopian or horror novels, but I am really glad that I wound up reading this one. Wilder Girls is set at an all girls boarding school, which is a setting that I really love in books. I really enjoyed the relationships between the girls in this story as they take care of each other and fight just to survive. It is a novel about a deadly contagious disease that they call the Tox, but it also focuses on female relationships and loyalty.
“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 idea behind this story really fascinated me. I have watched many movies and read several books where a contagious disease breaks out and people either get sick or have to struggle to stay alive in the world after. A lot of these kinds of stories wind up being about zombies and feel like fiction or they are about real diseases. Wilder Girls felt like a fresh take on an idea that is used a lot in science fiction or dystopian novels. The Tox is a unique disease where each of the teenage girls suffers different side effects. One girl has webbed hands, another grew a second spine, one has blisters all over and another grew silvery scales on one hand. The disease itself feels wild and is vividly described in a way that is both fascinating and horrifying.
“Some things don’t belong to other people,” she says, tired and drifting. “Some things are just mine.”
The characters were pretty well developed. Bits of them are revealed by the things that they share and the things that they keep to themselves when they are isolated and only have each other. I love the close friendships between Hetty, Byatt and Reese and how they take care of each other and depend on one another through rough times. As a main character I found Hetty to be admirable because she was so loyal to her friends. The world in the book is so harsh, yet these girls know they can depend on each other and I absolutely loved reading about their relationships.
A wilderness in everyone, like the one I’ve always felt in me. Only real this time. In my body, and not just my head.
The writing also really made this book shine. The descriptions of the different ways the Tox effected people were so vivid that I could easily picture them. There wasn’t non-stop action, but I didn’t want to set it down and devoured it in less than a day. The ending was so intense that I couldn’t read it fast enough. Wilder Girls was so different and interesting. This is a book that I know will stick with me for a long time just because of the descriptions. I was completely shocked to find out that this was Rory Power’s debut novel, but I will watch out for anything she comes out with next.