Wilder Girls is a story about mutation, ecological apocalypse on a miniature scale, and the monstrous and incredible capabilities of teenage girls. It falls into the category of "books I'd like to give my younger self" and also "books I'm going to recommend to every reader I meet."
Rory Power's prose is concise yet poetic, her characters imbued with the complexity and flaws I want to see all fictional girls allowed. The setting is heavy with an atmosphere of wildness and dread. All of this blends to deliver a story that's heavy on emotional payout, at times bittersweet and relatable, at times a terrifyingly unexpected punch in the teeth.
Wilder Girls will likely appeal to fans of Mira Grant, Christine Lynn Herman, and Claire Legrand.
I loved this book, it was unnerving and horrific and haunting in the best way. The isolated setting lends an extra layer of eeriness to it, the quarantined boarding school of girls who are all infected with the Tox are cut off not only by the fence that surrounds their school grounds but by the water surrounding the island. And the island isn't a haven either - the Tox has morphed the flora and fauna into a dark and dangerous woodland. I liked that we aren't coming into this at the outset of the Tox. By the book's opening, the girls are relatively resigned to the occasionally deadly mutations that predictably wrack their body. The key is holding onto just enough of a semblance of organized society to keep things from falling apart completely. I liked the idea of the ending but think another chapter or two would've been nice to flesh it out a little more. Not saying we need a nice clean bow tied on everything, but I felt there was room for a little more lingering expansion that wouldn't detract from the story's last-ditch desperation. This is definitely a book for fans of Annihilation, the Doctor Who "Waters of Mars" episodes if you're familiar with those. Not for fans of body horror.