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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Popular YA Dystopian Novel Nothing We Haven't Seen Before, But Still Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"We shouldn't be here.  This place isn't ours anymore" (59).

Eighteen months ago, a mysterious and vicious plague struck the island off the coast of Maine that houses the Raxter School for Girls.  The pestilence descended without mercy, killing some teachers and students outright and changing others into something almost ... inhuman.  Now quarantined, surviving only on supplies delivered in infrequent shipments from the U.S. Navy, the remaining girls have gone feral.  Polite society is a distant memory—now they'll fight to the death over an apple core.

The island's wildlife has changed just as much as its human occupants have, making the grounds unpredictable and dangerous.  Safety lies in numbers.  Protection, at least from outside forces, can only be found inside Raxter's fortified walls.  So, when Byatt Winsor disappears, her friends are frantic to find her.  Hetty Chapin won't stop until she brings her BFF home, even if it means venturing outside the fence, braving whatever horrors are hiding in the jungle.  As tough as Hetty has become, even she will be shaken by what she finds in the bush.  Her discoveries will change everything she thinks she knows about Raxter, the Tox, and the unthinkably desperate situation that has somehow become her normal, everyday life.  

While dystopian novels aren't quite as popular as they once were, I still dig them.  Something about average Joe's and Jane's struggling to survive in a changed world, wrestling with their humanity as they make impossible choices, just appeals to me.  These storylines always leave me asking myself, "What would I do in their situation?  How far would I go to protect myself and my loved ones?"  This kind of honest self-reflection can be eye-opening to say the least.  Beyond that, I'm always up for an exciting page-turner, so, you know, win-win.  

Even though Wilder Girls, a debut novel by Rory Power, doesn't offer anything dystopian lovers haven't seen before, it does provide a compelling plot that will have readers asking themselves the kinds of questions described above.  The story gets a little confusing and while some questions are answered along the way, there are a lot of loose endings left flapping in the wind.  A cliffhanger at the end suggests a sequel will be forthcoming, although I haven't seen confirmation of that anywhere.  While some reviewers felt Wilder Girls moved too slowly, I found it thoroughly engrossing.  I burned through the pages fast and furiously to see what would happen next in this grim dystopian world.  Since so many questions were left unanswered, I can't say I was totally satisfied with Wilder Girls.  Still, it kept me entertained and I will absolutely read the sequel that Power better be penning!  

(Readalikes:  I haven't actually read the William Golding classic, but Wilder Girls has been called a "feminist Lord of the Flies.")


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I've been debating about whether or not to read this because of the mixed reviews, but I do really enjoy a good dystopia, so I might have to read this for myself. I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part! Maybe I'll hold off until a sequel is officially confirmed (or denied). Great review!

  2. I'm not really a dystopian fan but this cover has really grabbed my attention and this sounds like a fun read.

  3. This one's on my list because, you know, I like dystopian/survival reads. Glad you liked it. :)

  4. I liked this one, but that ending! I definitely wanted more!! I love a good dystopian too. :)

  5. I read so many dystopian novels a few years back and haven't done much lately. I have just started Handmaid's Tale (again) though.

  6. Enjoyed this one too. Waiting for the sequel...waiting...waiting...waiting...

  7. When I was reading my daughter's books, I was reading a LOT of dystopians, but I don't really picked them up any more. I had no idea this was going to be a series either, but the fact that you would read the follow up says a lot about your level of enjoyment.

  8. I've seen this book around for a long while now and I have avoided reading a synopsis because I had a feeling I would immediately want to devour it. And here you are, with your great review and now I am heading over to my library's website to place a hold...


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