It's been 18 months since the Raxter School for Girls has been placed under quarantine on their island. A mysterious disease called the Tox has infected the school. Killing many of the teachers and students, but also forcing gross maladies in the surviving students. When Hetty's friend, Byatt, goes missing, she's determined to find answers even if it means breaking the quarantine.
This has been lauded as a feminist retelling of Lord of the Flies. It's very similar to Lord of the Flies, but I am not certain I would consider it a retelling. Wilder Girls reads very much like a sci-fi dystopian story with a plot driven by bio-terrorism. The Tox is a sort of highly contagious disease and no one seems to understand what caused it or how it spread. Naturally, the government would quarantine the girls, but it felt like the way the science was handled after that was not realistic. And I am a scientist so...
By the end of the story, there is a plausible logic to the Tox, but for me it fell flat. Nothing added up, especially the way they explained the Tox affecting males vs females and especially older females vs the girl students. I think I expect a bit more to my sci-fi than something that vaguely makes sense.
Then there was the ending. Like what was that trash fire??? It was basically a fade to black and you can imagine all the characters are happy and fine when we know they won't be. Ugh. I am not a fan of such open endings. If there's a sequel that would be fine, but I don't know what would even happen in the sequel besides (view spoiler) That would be a pretty interesting story, but again it would come to the issue of how is this ending??
Wilder Girls focuses on three girls: Hetty, Byatt & Reese. The first two have POVs so we get to know them pretty well, and Reese is present through the story as the third part of the friendship triangle. After Byatt goes missing, Hetty & Reese are forced to work together. I enjoyed their relationship even if it was semi-forced. They seemed to compliment each other very well. Byatt was a bit more peculiar. I didn't understand a lot of her motivations, but she was fascinating.
All in all, this book felt incomplete to me. I did enjoy it for the most part, but I feel like it could've been wrapped up with a bow and everything given fifty more pages.