Wilder Girlsby Published 09 Jul 2019
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.
Wilder Girls Reviews
Imagine how this cover would look in a hardcover copy...literally chills
Some days it’s fine. Others it nearly breaks me. The emptiness of the horizon, and the hunger in my body, and how will we ever survive this if we can’t survive each other? “We’re gonna make it. Tell me we’re gonna make it.”
so much about this book is so good. the synopsis. the premise. the chillsiness it delivers. the characters. the tantalizing dislocation of WHAT IS THIS THAT IS HAPPENING? the dread and unease. the tension. that goddamn cover.
i did not love it unconditionally, but what i did love i loved HARD.
set on an island-isolated girls’ school in maine, the reader is dropped instantly into an atmosphere of extreme and horrific circumstances: what was once a fully-functioning, fully-populated school has been diminished by a mysterious affliction known as the tox, wiping out all but two of the teachers and most of the students, with terrible consequences for the ones who managed to stay alive.
the school is located off the coast of a naval base, who have ordered the island quarantined and promised that the CDC is working on a cure. meanwhile, the navy has been providing supplies by way of boat drop-offs collected by the few girls allowed to travel beyond the walled-off school grounds, but the quantity and quality of the supplies have worsened the longer the situation continues, the packages themselves oddly composed: Even when there’s no bread, there’s always shampoo, and the girls are all but starving as they cluster together in the school, functioning in a mostly cooperative free-for-all setup, awaiting the next outbreak.
and the outbreaks are intense. They cycle in seasons, each one worse than before until we can’t bear it anymore, and, if the girls survive, they are left each time with a different physical reminder of their ordeal: glowing hair, silver scales, or with more monstrously disfiguring body horror manifestations; bones protruding through the skin, eyes fused shut, with “something” growing underneath…
It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.
the patterned timing of the flare-ups, the age of the victims, the ceremonial rite-of-passage way they acknowledge a girl’s first episode gives it a very OUR CHANGING BODIES vibe, and girls know all too well the bloody body-horror transformations of puberty even without something like the tox, but this goes beyond allegory, the girls keep on dying, and it’s unclear whether the root cause is illness, toxin, biological agent, etc, but it’s one that has also affected the local wildlife, causing forest-dwellers like foxen, bears, and bobcats to be a little bigger, more aggressive and more desperately hungry, as misshapen as the humans.
There used to be horses, four of them, but early in the first season, we noticed how the Tox was starting to get inside them like it got inside us, how it was pushing their bones through their skin, how it was stretching their bodies until they screamed. So we led them out to the water and shot them.
so far, it is everything i love and all the best parts of Lord of the Flies, The Village, Pure: survival in a dangerous landscape, mysterious and terrifying illness, giant freaking animals, teen girls with guns and shifting loyalties and EXOSKELETONS and important decisions to make about trust and love and loyalty and how and when to play your cards and all of the seeeeeekrits that go with the us v. them situation of limited resources and even-more-limited information and not knowing what’s really going on ‘out there.’
i love the characters, the switching POVs, the escalating tensions and the bold authorial moves. but then that ending. that’s no way to say good-bye. i assume it’s a case of where they’re interested in a follow-up book but want to see how this debut sells before committing to a follow-up, but i’m not in love with where the book cuts off. the final scene works as a final scene and an appropriate ending-mood, but there’s too much left unresolved before that sunlit-water-for-credits-to-roll-over ambiguous optimism. i was expecting a standalone book, and this feels unfinished. i loved it until then, but unfortunately, that’s how books work: the last thing you read-feel is what looms largest in your mind, and for me, it was a quiet disappointment. everything else, though, thumbs up!
now gimmie a second book!
that ending...... review to come.
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU UNDERSTAND HOW BADLY I WANT THIS
come to my blog!
sapphic horror is my new favorite genre
this is probably one of my favorite covers of the year and I am so happy to say that the inside is just as amazing. this honestly ended up being a weird combination of everything i love in stories. it is a feminist lord of the flies following 3 friends who are under quarantine at a boarding school. when one of the friends goes missing it becomes a race to find her and figure out what the hell is happening on this island and uncover the secrets being kept from them. this also has a really great f/f relationship that I died over!
as for the horror elements. this isn't "jump scare" horror but more "makes your skin crawl" with some of the creepy elements, which I personally loved. I would say if you liked the movie Annihilation then you will love this!
if you would like to take a look at the content warnings the author has kindly shared them on her website
this was one of the more unique YA books I've read recently and I loved how it didn't shy away from the brutality of what was happening. there was also a cool stylistic choice with the writing that I think worked really well and added to the creepy vibe.
brain: add book to tbr.
me: maybe we should read the synopsis first
brain: no. pretty cover.
did somebody say feminist horror cause there goes my money outta the window as I drool all over this cover
also just in: this book is hella gay