Rory Power | Wilder Girls / Sălbaticele

Oof! Wilder Girls was a trip. One of the most anticipated books of 2019, TREI publishing was quick to pick it up and release it in June of this year. An ironic time really, but you will see later.

The book takes us into Raxter Island, which has been closed off from the mainland due to quarantine. Eighteen months ago, the island was hit by the TOX, a disease that if it does not kill you it will make your body change. It does not only affect the humans, but the animals as well, and the changes are not pretty.

We follow the friendship of Hetty, Byatt and Reese, who are among the oldest girls who have survived the Tox and the many flares that their bodies have gone through. Everything changed through when the fire natation attacked (little Airbender humor for you). No, everything changes when Byatt goes missing after a flare, leaving Hetty desperate to discover what happened to her best friend.

I was not prepared for “Wilder Girls”. I had heard of it and put it off mostly because of the body horror element. As mentioned, the mutations the girls go through are horrible, with long lasting effects on their bodies and minds. I have to praise here the cover art for the book, because it depicts in such a creative way the broken nature of these girls. Top marks for that. It is also not a book to read during a pandemic if you are an anxious individual. There is no way the similarities won’t hit you, body horror aside.

Split between Hetty and Byatt’s point of views “Wilder Girls” is a fast book. I flew through it so fast I didn’t even have time to write down notes. It spans over just a few days and I actually loved that. It didn’t drag the mystery of where was Byatt taken, why the Tox hit and how can it be stopped. It’s the kind of book that once you start you have to read it until the end. As you get closer to the end chapters and the reveals, you start to feel the same race against time finality.

Despite the fast-moving action Rory Power’s story telling managed easily blend the past connection in the present. Byatt is Hetty’s best friend, Reese could be something more, but we don’t have to take Hetty’s word for it. The past details that are mingled in through their memories from before the Tox make their decisions plausible.

“Wilder Girls” is thrilling and horrific, but it is also balanced by warm moments of friendship and love in a world that should have easily killed that. The characters break and mend each other the best they can and even if some have complained about the end, I don’t think there is a better one for it. Not for this story.

I cannot wait to see what Rory Power will do with her next book “Burn our Bodies Down.” She has definitely entered my TBR Pile.

*Cronică realizată de Măriuca Alexandra Munteanu.

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