“See how a body will change, to give you the best chance it can.”
Wilder Girls by Rory Power is a story of survival, loyalty and how much a female body can endure. When a virus takes over Raxter School for Girls, their island home is closed off from the rest of the world as the girls and teachers are put in quarantine. They are promised a cure just as long as they wait and stay within the school borders. The Tox, as they call it, has taken almost all the adults. Each girl who has been infected now faces a new challenge as her body becomes something she can not recognize.
Hetty, Byatt and Reese have always stuck together. Their fierce love for one another keeps them close, helps them survive. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything she can to get her back, even if it means seeing what lies beyond the fence, the horror that could be awaiting them.
What struck me about this thrilling and unique YA novel was just how badass these girls were. They can fight, they can handle a gun, they can survive with missing eyes, or bodily deformities from the poisonous Tox. They are smart, they are resourceful, they protect their sisterhood and they are wild.
These girls don’t have time to form their identity around their physical appearance, to feel the weight of judgement toward the shape of their bodies. Beauty is the last thing on their minds. As their bodies take on new shapes — every girl experiences The Tox differently— they embrace their ugly, their twisted and they continue to defend their home. They continue to survive.
The camaraderie Hetty, Byatt and Reese have — Reese’s no nonsense, stoic attitude, Byatt’s fearlessness, Hetty’s ingenuity and passionate love — binds these girls so tightly together that they don’t hesitate to put their own lives or the lives of everyone left at Raxter School, in jeopardy for one another.
Part love story, part mystery and part non-stop thriller, Wilder Girls is a beautiful yet suspenseful tale of teenage girlhood, what it means to live in a female body, the desire for love, and endurance.
By Rory Power
357 pages. 2019