August 12, 2019 • Cee • Reviews

Wilder Girls by Rory Power • July 9, 2019 • Delacorte Press
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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.


First sentence: “Something.”

You do what it takes to survive with the Tox. Every day, life at the Raxter School for Girls is a fight; it’s full of fear and uncertainty about when the next flare-up will be, whether they’re gonna be cured, and who else will go to the infirmary and never come back.

  • Wilder Girls are for fans of post-apocalyptic, survival stories with a dash of queer romance and horror, and full of female badassery and ecological bizarreness.

The entire world in Wilder Girls hasn’t been devastated by the Tox, just the island the girls are on. It’s seemingly set in this post-apocalyptic world where the environment and the surroundings in Raxter Island have collapsed.

It’s a survival story. These girls have to fight everyday to survive despite the side effects of the Tox. What do these girls do to ensure they keep living? What lengths would they go through?

It has a queer romance that will have you squealing. There’s not an abundance of it, but it’s enough.

It’s a horror that creeps under your skin. It’ll chill you to the bone.

It’s full of strong girls who do whatever’s necessary to stay alive and keep their friends alive. It’s in this bond that is so precious that nothing can stop them.

The ecological state on this island is not anything you ever seen before; it’s so bizarre that you want to learn more about it.

It’s definitely not like Lord of the Flies, aside from the aspect of trying to stay alive. Wilder Girls couldn’t be more different. If Lord of the Flies deal with human nature, Wilder Girls deals with how to survive unforgiving environment.

  • The Tox affects everybody and everything in different ways, and the imagery of it gives a fantastical creepiness that I enjoy.

The Tox changes these girls at Raxter. You meet girls who have silver scaled hands;  cuts on necks that are like gills and dispenses no blood; an eye sealed shut that it sometimes bleed and needs to be stitched up; and a secondary spine that doesn’t seem to do anything except bring agony.

Not only are these girls affected, readers will see it in the abnormally feral, hungry animals that Hetty encounters through the woods with the other Boat Shift girls; in the way the plants have overgrown and devastates everything in its path; and in the way that The Tox is unforgiving and withers you away when it has no use for you.

I wanted to see read more about how the Tox affected everything because I love the creepiness of it. The plants made me think of—

This book that came out this year!
Aurora Rising because you do encounter these creatures who’s body have been taken over by plants that have sprouted everywhere like a host
and that’s incredible to me that you get more plant creepiness.

  • Survival for these girls isn’t everybody for themselves; these girls have each other’s back.

You can’t help admire these girls—especially Hetty and Byatt. Survival is a team effort. They’ll always have each other’s back because they’re all they have. For Hetty, Byatt and Reese are hers. When Byatt disappeared, Hetty’s #1 goal was to find Byatt even if it was dangerous. She’d stop at nothing to find her, and you can’t help but admire her tenacity.

  • I expected more out of Wilder Girls.

I don’t mind how the book ended, and how it didn’t answer questions plenty of questions reader might have about the Tox. I’m okay with that, but not when I don’t feel satisfied by what was revealed. After an important POV ended, the book lost its steam. It was very much, “ummm, okay, was that…it?” Everything after was trying to make sense of lack of answers given to us, but that’s in line with these characters who know nothing of what’s happening.

Should you read Wilder Girls? Yes. If you want a post-apocalyptic survival-horroresque book about resilient girls trying to survive this ecological devastation, you’ve picked up the right book. It’ll grip you and chill you to the bone right from the start.


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