Genre: YA Dystopian Rating: ⭐⭐
It’s always fun to write excessively positive or harshly negative book reviews. Unfortunately, Wilder Girls by Rory Power fell into neither category for me. I’ll preface my review with the usual suggestion to check the content warnings on The StoryGraph, as this book did have some graphic violence, illness, and overall gore.
The premise of the novel is that our protagonist, Hetty, is trapped at her boarding school due to a contagious outbreak called the Tox. The illness killed most of the teachers at the school and left the girls with strange deformities that flare up occasionally and eventually kill them. Most of the novel revolves around Hetty’s closest friend, Byatt going missing, and Hetty using another girl, Reese, to help find her.
I found the relationships Hetty had with both Byatt and Reese confounding and shallow. Hetty has an odd attachment to Byatt that is never fully explained in my opinion. On the other hand, Reese only becomes part of Hetty’s and Byatt’s friend group because they need her help with a school project. Similarly, Hetty goes on to use Reese both physically and emotionally, failing to acknowledge the other girl’s emotions and viewing her as a means to an end, despite claiming to have romantic feelings for her.
This book was so overrated! I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now and have heard nothing, but great things, but it simply didn’t live up to the hype. I was also probably influenced by the fact that Rory Power is close friends with Emily A. Duncan, who made some extremely racist and anti-Semitic comments. Power herself was rumored to help Duncan in bullying minority authors, so this certainly had an influence on my opinion of the book too.
I won’t ruin the ending in case you’re still wanting to read Wilder Girls, but I promise you, it is just as disappointing as the rest of the book. However, I used this opportunity to find new books I wanted to read by minority authors, so in a way, the negative accusations about Duncan and her friends has led to more publicity for authors they have victimized. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but I highly recommend supporting Hafsah Faizal and Rin Chupeco!