by Rory Power
Published July 9, 2019
Source: I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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. [goodreads]
This book has been described as a feminist retelling of Lord of the Flies and as a sapphic horror novel. Both of those things wildly compelled me to pick up this novel, but I did not feel that either description was accurate.
My main frustration as I read was that I never really understood what the Tox actually was. Throughout the story, we are given descriptions of the Tox’s effects on the girls — disfigured bodies and changes that came out of nowhere, but the way it started was never explained. Because we weren’t given enough backstory and information on the Tox, I became much more invested in what the Tox was than what was going on in the actual plot of the novel.
That being said, I felt more connected to the plot than to any of the characters — they felt paper-thin to me and there was nothing about them that made me care if they lived or died. None of them was memorable to me in the slightest.
I was interested enough in the Tox to continue reading, but was ultimately left more confused than satisfied. The ending happened very abruptly and could have used an additional 100 pages of explanation, in my opinion. While I am glad I read this book, I feel that it would have benefited from additional details and length.
I do want to mention that while this book is technically sapphic, its certainly not a romance. Hype and early reviews led me to believe that there would be more of a focus on a f/f relationship in this book than there actually is.
CONTENT WARNINGS: (from author’s website) Graphic violence and body horror, gore, on-page character death, parental death, and animal death (though the animals are not pets), behavior and descriptive language akin to self-harm, food scarcity and starvation, emesis, a scene depicting chemical gassing, reference to suicide and suicidal ideation, non-consensual medical treatment.
WILDER GIRLS is available now!