Monday, November 18, 2019

Wilder Girls - Rory Power

Summary: 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.
  (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: Whew! It’s been awhile since I’ve read a YA dystopian fic. It feels like for awhile there it was all doom and gloom and zombies and the end of the world because of various things, ya know, like nuclear war or the sun blowing up or oppressive governments…you know. The gamut of All the Dystopian Things. Man. Those were the good ol’ days.

You’ll be happy to know that the good ol’ days are back in Wilder Girls! If you’ve been missing some good YA dystopian fic of the changing planet and therefore morphing bodies-type, this is your book! If you haven’t read The Forest of Hands and Teeth books, this kind of reminded me of that even though this isn’t the traditional zombie book. It’s more like zombies with a twist. It had all the good things that I think makes a good zombie-esque dystopia YA book. Let’s make a list, shall we?

·         Survivors. Not the normal “we made it type.” More like the tough and fighting type who are working through it. Sure, they’re young and things are out of their control, but they’re smart and know how to manipulate the system to their needs. They may look weak (and some are, of course) but there are plenty who do what it takes to survive and thrive.
·         Adults. Not the good kind. The kind that keep secrets and lie and take advantage of the situation in ways that the teens can see through, even if they’re not completely sure what it is they’re seeing. They’re always underestimating the teens, and although they may have the upper hand in many situations, that doesn’t mean the teens are going to let that fly. The adults are sketch, and everybody knows it. It’s weird being on that side of the age things, by the way. I guess I’m sketch in the YA world. Oh well. I get it.
·         Weird, horrific disease symptoms that are just unique and interesting. I don’t want to spoil them, but I love that they’re connected to the island. It makes for a seriously creepy atmosphere, and one that is always bringing new and interesting surprises to the weird, horrific disease table.
·         A doomsday ending. Complete with all the drama and mayhem. I’m stopping there.
·         Impending dread. It’s not a good YA dystopian fic if you don’t have an impending dread. That’s part of the fun, right? It needs to feel real enough that it seems like it could happen, and although this didn’t feel as real as some I’ve read (simply because it was an isolated incident) I thought it was really cool. Also, although the author tried to do an environmental global-warming tie-in, I didn’t feel like it really worked. It felt put in at the last minute, and it felt unnecessary. Global environmental disasters of all varieties could have caused this (including global warming), but naming it without giving justification to why it happened or how it was related or even connected just made it feel like the author had gone back and plugged in a hot button topic of the time, which is a weak sauce way to address important issues, IMHO.

I liked the way this book was organized. It was divided into different sections with the name of a girl as the section marker, and that made for some intense reading as the girls were always in danger and when the story divides, it was nerve-wracking to see who would be telling the story next and what they were experiencing and surviving.

I enjoyed the writing of this book. The characters were great, and I really enjoyed an all-female cast. I think this brought to light many issues that were able to be addressed organically, and I love it when that happens. One of the things that I really enjoyed was the way that Power would not give all the facts at the beginning. So often authors are tempted to tell all about the disease and The Incident (because this is a dystopian book) and the characters right at the beginning. However, Power felt free to just drag us along and drop hints and information now and then. I really liked it, and felt like it moved the story along at a pace that was uncommon. So many times we just get info in a matter-of-fact manner. Not this time. We had to learn facts when we learned them. Yes, we wanted to know and of course we wanted answers, but that made it much sweeter when we did get them.

If you enjoy YA dystopian fic, I highly recommend this book. I feel like it was a hearken back to the OG’s of dystopian YA fic, and I liked that a lot.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and violence, as well as same-gender attraction, but no sex.

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