Review: WILDER GIRLS

Happy 2020 y’all! 

How’s everyone doing with their resolutions? We’re a little more than halfway through January, now, so I imagine most of us (myself included) have pretty much abandoned those unrealistic goals we set at the start of the year. I, for one, have definitely not stopped eating fast food and Dunkin–whoops. 

One goal I set for myself this year that I’m actually doing alright with is my reading goal–shocking, I know. As of January 18, I’ve read four books! Truly, a record for me. Today I want to talk about one of those books in particular: WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power. 


I bought this book a couple days after it came out because there was just so much internet hype–I had to get in on it. Plus, it was exactly the read I’d been craving; queer girls, New England, body horror, climate change??? Sign me up!

I started reading this book two months ago, in November. On my first update on Goodreads, I said “This will definitely be a short read because it’s just that good.” I wasn’t exactly correct–it was a great book, I absolutely loved it, but life happened (as it does) and I couldn’t actually sit down and finish it until the beginning of this month. I finished the book on January 16th, and wow–did I mention it was great?

Shocking to absolutely no one, I gave this book a solid five stars. 

When I heard about this book, I was so excited because I’ve been on the hunt for some good sapphic stories for ages. I tried THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST, written by my favorite writing professor at RIC, last year but just couldn’t get into it. WILDER GIRLS sounded much more up my alley–and it definitely was.

(To be clear, the only similarities I’m drawing between Cam Post and Wilder Girls is that they both feature queer girls as main characters; beyond that, these are two entirely different stories, and I just wasn’t feeling the former. That being said, I do want more queer lit so please feel free to recommend some in the comments!)

To start, I loved the New England setting. As a born and bred Rhode Islander, I adore any and all reference to the north east, so right off the bat that was a point in WILDER GIRLS’ favor. I admit, I wasn’t sure at first how I would like the pacing of the book. The writing style can be considered experimental in some parts, and almost all of Byatt’s chapters were written in a more stream of consciousness style. The pacing, the style, all of it quickly grew on me, though. It really sets the serious tone of the story, in some parts even making my heart race in time with Hetty’s. 

The three main characters, Hetty, Byatt, and Reese, are teenage girls living at Raxter School for Girls off the coast of Maine, where a strange virus called the Tox has broken out causing severe mutations–and often death–in the school’s inhabitants. We follow the trio through Hetty and Byatt’s perspectives, but it’s clear that Hetty is the star of the show here, with much of the story being told by her. All three girls are interesting; they each have very distinct personalities, and the dynamic of their friend group is one I’ve experienced myself. Sometimes I wanted to slap them, and other times I wanted to hug them and tell them it would be okay. They were real, relatable and exactly the kind of girls I’d want to stick around if I were at Raxter. 

I felt that the story itself unfolds slowly, then all at once. The further into the book I got, the more and more puzzle pieces were clicking together, making me go “Oh my god no!” This was just such a well-crafted novel, and I cannot wait for Rory Power’s upcoming novel BURN OUR BODIES DOWN, which you can pre-order at her website.

As far as qualms I may have had with this book, I can’t think of any to list. WILDER GIRLS is a book that has you question everything, revealing all the answers at just the right moment. I cannot recommend this book enough.

I will add a quick trigger warning for anyone looking to read this book, though, as it is extremely gory. I’ve been an avid fan of horror since high school and blood doesn’t generally bother me, but some passages of this book had me physically cringing. Proceed with caution!

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