September 2, 2015 • Cee • Reviews

wolf wilder

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell •  August 25, 2015 • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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A girl and the wolves who love her embark on a rescue mission through Russian wilderness in this lyrical tale from the author of the acclaimed Rooftoppers and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms.

Feo’s life is extraordinary. Her mother trains domesticated wolves to be able to fend for themselves in the snowy wilderness of Russia, and Feo is following in her footsteps to become a wolf wilder. She loves taking care of the wolves, especially the three who stay at the house because they refuse to leave Feo, even though they’ve already been wilded. But not everyone is enamored with the wolves, or with the fact that Feo and her mother are turning them wild. And when her mother is taken captive, Feo must travel through the cold, harsh woods to save her—and learn from her wolves how to survive.


I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there was a dark and stormy girl. “

Back in June, I wrote a love letter to The Wolf Wilder, desperately in need of it because holy wolves + Russia! I managed to get myself a copy, and is it everything I had hoped it’ll be? Well, I’ll tell you.


  • I loved the wolves, and was so attached to them.

I see why Feo loves them so dearly. These wolves, who were once domesticated but were trained to be wild and fend for themselves, act exactly like you’d think wolves would act. They fight, they run, and they don’t really like humans except Feo who’d showed nothing but love for them. Most of the time, they don’t listen to Feo, which puts them in a life-threatening situation; it pained me when they didn’t listen though because I wanted them to make it out unscathed, but that’s a wolf for you. I also love Feo’s treatment of them. She understands that they’re wolves and doesn’t force them to be anything but a wolf.

  • You can’t help but admire Feo’s bravery when she decides to find her mother and get her out of the grasp of the Russian army.

Feo is such a tough little girl for embarking on this dangerous mission. She just wants her mother, who had been taken away by General Rakov and Russian army for disregarding their threats of stop wilding the wolves, and it’s very admirable that she’d risk everything to save her. It might be naïve of her to think she can save her mother alone, but hey, I like her dedication and bravery. Very good traits in a person.

  • Feo makes a friend in a human. 

Feo has never had a human friend, who wasn’t her mother, and when Ilya, a Russian soldier who’s a couple of years older than her, decides to join her mission, it tugged at my heart. Here are two people, who seem unlikely to be friends (since he’s part of the Russian army), relying on each other in the cruel snow in the Russian forests. Unlikely friendships are always my favorite.

  • You get to see wolf wilding in action. 

Wolf wilding is such a new idea that I’ve never seen in books, and I loved seeing it. You get to see how these wolves are brought to Feo and her mother, why a Wolf Wilder would train domesticated wolves to be wild, and the different views and treatment people like Feo’s mother and General Rakov have on this concept. Just wish there was more.


  • My interest in the story started to wane as I read on.

My god, for a seemingly beautiful book, everything bore me. I started losing interest in the story and in the characters as I read on because nothing really exciting happens—there was a lot of running and snow, no character development or emotional ties. Even the actions and climax didn’t get me on the edge of my seat, nor did it made me fear for the characters when they got into dangerous situations.

  • Where’s the Russian history and the culture?

You are given a glimpse of this Russian world, but this book doesn’t do a great job at world-building. You have to rely on your preconceived ideas of what you know about Russia (or imagine it to be). Since this is a Middle Grade, it makes me wonder how kids will be able to imagine this world when it’s all just snow and vagueness. I wanted to see this rich world.

  • So much General Rakov, so little wolf wilding. 

The book became less about the wolves, and more about escaping General Rakov and rescuing Feo’s mother. We spend a good chunk of this book dealing with that, and I wish that time was spent on the wolves and the wilding concept because that’s what I thought the majority of the book would be about.

Katherine Rundell wrote a beautiful book, but I wish it was executed in a way that was more exciting, had more world-building of this Russian world, and delved more into wolf wilding.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected when I wrote my love letter to this book. If you’re looking for a Middle Grade about a girl trying to save her mother, The Wolf Wilder is great, albeit boring, but if you’re looking for it to be about the wolves? No such luck here. The book barely focuses on them.


4 Responses to “REVIEW | The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell”

  1. I keep seeing this cover around lately. I’d never heard of it prior to seeing pictures. I don’t think this one would be for me–and C grade…:-( that’s sad. I’m glad the wolves were portrayed well.

  2. Lola says:

    I totally agree with you when it comes to this book. I loved the idea and I liked the wolves and how Feo made a human friend as well, but there wasn’t enough focus on russia and I didn’t really care about the saving her mother plot and would’ve liked to see more wolf wilding. I also thought the story got a bit boring as it progressed, luckily it was pretty short. Oh and I was a bit sad my copy didn’t include the artwork. Just like you I wanted to read this because of the Wolf Wilding and hadn’t expected the saving her mother plot line. Great Review!

  3. Ooh! I’m interested in this book because of the mention of wolves. Honestly, I’m a sucker for anything with wolves in it. Probably my favorite is this middle grade book called Wolf Brother. I read it in elementary school, but it always stuck with me. I think I’ll try out this book but will be wary because of your mentions of losing interest. Have you read other wolf books and if so what is your favorite? :)

  4. Alexa S. says:

    Oh boo. It’s so unfortunate that there’s a lack of world-building (because I do love me some Russian culture and Russia as a setting)! I still think it would be interesting to read about a girl who goes to great lengths to save her mother, but perhaps I shall wait until I can borrow this one from the library instead.

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