'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Review: Wilder Girls

Hetty lives at Raxter’s School for Girls, a boarding school on an island, now in quarantine since the Tox ravaged through it eighteen months earlier. 

More like a jail than a school, food is strictly rationed, their movements restricted and they have no contact with the outside world, even their families. 

Teachers count the girls each morning to check whether somebody died during the night. The school is barricaded by a large fence to keep the enraged, diseased animals out.

The Tox has killed off many of the girls and left all affected. Power deftly builds a world that is infused with a sense of decay, where privations are the norm, where every decision can mean survival or perish. However, the girls are all silently unravelling. 

Hetty has only one eye and others have developed scales and her friend Byatt has a second spine. All live with the fear of the Tox flaring up again and perhaps finishing them off. 

When reading, I wondered whether the girls were about to transform, maybe develop superpowers, but no, their powers are already within them, they are fighters, undefeated.

When Hetty is given the privilege to meet the boat that delivers supplies to the island, she becomes aware that the adults are concealing something from the girls – but cannot determine their motives. Then Byatt is removed to the hospital and Hetty is not able to visit – again, she catches an adult lying and this time she is determined to uncover the secret. Because her best friend’s life depends on it.

Power’s story telling is stark and unflinching, and she has developed a heroine who is every bit as uncompromising as Katniss from The Hunger Games.

The novel ended with a hint that Hetty’s story is not over and I await the sequel.

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power 
Publisher: Macmillan’s Children’s Books, $16.99 
Publication Date: 9 July 2019 
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781529021288
For ages: 14+