An all-female dystopia with rich language and intricate characters, Wilder Girls offers a taste of something new in a sea of predictable YA apocalypses.
Almost two years have passed since the Tox, a mysterious disease, first ravaged the bodies of the girls and teachers at Raxter School for Girls, an isolated island boarding school. Now there’s only a fraction of them left, and they’ve learned to adapt to the new additions to their bodies—gills, silver scales and second spines—and to the changed environment of the island in order to survive. Their most sacred rule? Never break quarantine, never go outside the fence.
But when Hetty’s closest friend, Byatt, has a flare-up and goes missing, following the rules becomes the last thing on Hetty’s mind. She will do whatever it takes to get to Byatt, even if it means putting herself in even more danger. But when she ventures past the fence, what she finds on the other side may not be what she expected.
In our current cultural and political climate, it’s refreshing to find a young adult novel that showcases and celebrates the enduring strength of women, even in the face of unimaginable hardship. First-time author Rory Power is particularly adept at illustrating the dynamics of female friendship, as well as exploring queer romantic relationships. All of these relevant topics, set against a stark and high-risk backdrop, make Wilder Girls stand out from the crowd and practically demand to be read.