Wilder Girls by Rory Powers
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication date: 06 February 2020
Genre: YA horror
Page count: 368 pages
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review.
I had been dying to get my hands on Wilder Girls ever since it came out in the US in 2019. I’m not much of a horror reader, but I’ve started becoming more and more interested in the genre and thought this would be a great way to get into body horror — a subgenre that I’m particularly nervous to read. However, this book was a big flop for me and I’m so disappointed!
Everyone loses something to the Tox; Hetty lost her eye, Reese’s hand has changed, and Byatt just disappeared completely.
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put in quarantine. The Tox turned the students strange and savage, the teachers died off one by one. Cut off from the mainland, the girls don’t dare wander past the school’s fence where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure as the Tox takes; their bodies becoming sick and foreign, things bursting out of them, bits missing.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie in the wilderness past the fence. As she digs deeper, she learns disturbing truths about her school and what else is living on Raxter Island. And that the cure might not be a cure at all…
I think my biggest issue with this book is that it was completely and utterly underwhelming. I would normally DNFa book that I wasn’t enjoying, but I held on with the hope that it would get better — it didn’t. I wouldn’t say Wilder Girls is a bad book, it was just so boring. The plot was basically non-existent, the characters were totally lackluster, the actual horror elements were so light pointless that they could have been removed completely, and the secrets of the island were so underwhelming. I liked the aesthetic of the book well enough, with its overgrown forest and mutated animals, but that was about it.
The book is split into two perspectives — Hetty and Byatt. Hetty’s point of view dominates the book — in fact, she’s the only POV character until past the halfway point and it’s so jarring when it suddenly switches to Byatt’s perspective. Hetty was a totally flat character — she doesn’t have an ounce of personality and was just an empty vessel that moved the miniscule plot forward. I didn’t understand her or Byatt’s motivations or personalities, and I just didn’t get it.
Ultimately, I don’t think the author pushed anything about the book far enough. Wilder Girls had so much wasted potential, and I think that’s what bothers me most about it. I desperately wanted to love this book, however it was a huge flop for me. I am, however, not put off her books and will likely be giving Powers a try again in the future.
CW: murder, suicide, gore, medical experimentation
Want to try Wilder Girls for yourself? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):