The friends who recommended Rory Power’s Wilder Girls to me sure know how to get my attention. “Gripping queer relationships and teen girls being badasses!” said one. “You’ll love this, it reminds me so much of that show Yellowjackets that you won’t stop talking about,” raved another. Well, that sealed the deal.
Wilder Girls takes place entirely on the fictional Raxter Island off the coast of Maine, primarily at the Raxter School for Girls. The all-girls boarding school is now under complete quarantine because of a mysterious illness the girls call The Tox. The Tox affects each girl in the book differently, with increasingly bizarre and difficult symptoms appearing throughout the novel. Our main character, Hetty, is afflicted with blindness in one eye while her two friends Byatt and Reese have grown a second spine and have lizard-like scales on their hands respectively.
Hetty and Byatt serve as the Gun Crew at the start of the novel. They watch out for intrusions from the islands animal population, who have also grown larger and more grotesque due to their infections. They wait each day for the return of Boat Crew, a select group of girls who have been chosen to retrieve the regular drops of food and other provisions from the US Navy (who are stationed in a base just across the water).
When Byatt experiences a particularly intense bout with The Tox, she suddenly disappears from the school. Hetty and Reese (frenemies at best) must band together to save their best friend, and hopefully the other girls who remain at Raxter with them.
Wilder Girls is a truly gripping tale of the lengths one girl will go to in order to save the people she holds dear. This page turner is easy to read and impossible to put down. I can’t recommend it highly enough.