In one word: Unnerving
First things first. We gotta talk about this cover. FRIGGIN. GASP. From art to font, the whole thing is perfection. It really captures the tone of the book, as nature and puberty coalesce into a diseased nightmare for the students of the Raxter School for Girls. When the Tox breaks out the girls are quarantined, and a year and a half later, they are no closer to answers, and their numbers are dwindling. We follow a trio of friends, Hetty, Byatt, and Reese, as their complicated triad is put to the test as they struggle to survive.
The opening pages of this book are reminiscent of Naomi Alderman’s “The Power,” but instead of really rad superpowers, the girls and women are affected by debilitating physical evolutions that manifest differently in each person. What’s the cause? What’s the cure? The author keeps the action solely locked on the school, so we’re initially left wondering if this is an isolated event or a worldwide phenomenon. The possibilities are endless.
I found the experience of reading this book curious. I found it hard to pick up because of the gruesome and creepy tale, but once I got over the initial hurdle and opened it back up, it was hard to put down.
I was hooked by the narrative and thought Power did a good job of teasing many possible angles for this story and kept me guessing. I was unsure how she would wrap it up, but I think she landed the dismount. This is a tight and polished debut. I don’t read a lot of YA, but if there is more out there like this, I need to find out what I’ve been missing.
She has another book out now, and one more on the way (the first book of a mythic epic fantasy), and I’ve got my eye on Power.