Book Reviews · New Releases

Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl Serpent

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flatiron Books, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Opinion:

“I am both the Sleeping Beauty and the enchanted castle; the princess drowses in the castle of flesh.”

-Angela Carter, Vampirella

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a heavily Persian influenced mythology retelling with elements from classic fairy tales like “Sleeping Beauty“, “Rapunzel” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” It tells the story of a young Princess who was cursed with the touch of poison after her birth, and has since been hidden away in one of her family’s castles to keep her ailment secret. But when the royal family returns to her castle for the season, they bring with them a captured div – a demon who tried to kill the princess’s brother – whom they are keeping locked in the dungeons. For Princess Soraya, this is her only chance to find a way out of the curse that has caused her to live a life without human contact. But Soraya quickly learns that nothing is given for free, and consequences weigh heavily.

“There was and there was not.”

 

This unique retelling has been at the top of my TBR list for months. I originally found it on Goodreads while in one of a 3-hour book pit of browsing and knew it was going to be a top read of 2020. And though this story started out great, with rich culture spilling through the pages and a luscious world wrought with magic and danger, I felt myself begin to drift about 25% in.

It was an enjoyable read, but I was expecting an extra emotional punch and a little more excitement.

I hate to say it, but I was a bit bored for the middle and end of this book. I have been having trouble with YA Fantasy lately, so maybe it’s just me, but I just wasn’t as invested in the story as I wanted to be. I think a big part of this could be that the story went in a direction I wasn’t initially expecting it to. I guess I was expecting a “Throne of Glass” meets “Ash Princess“, and got more of a “Damsel” vibe that I wasn’t really feeling.

Soraya was an intriguing character at first, but her ‘doe in headlights‘ act started to get old pretty quickly. It bothered me how fine she was with her family practically shunning her and shoving her into a castle like Quasimodo, barely visiting her or even trying to communicate with her. I wanted her to show some semblance of anger or a grudge for her treatment, but it seemed innocence and being too trusting were her only major driving traits.

I also wanted her poisonous curse to be portrayed a bit darker.

Obviously this story is going to be written how the author wants and with their own preference to overall lightness or darkness in terms of overall theme, but I was hoping this was going to be a grittier and more raw tale. I wanted to really dive into the way this curse made Soraya feel. How the solitude and isolation has contributed to her personality and thoughts, and what flaws it causes her to develop. Yes, the girl is naive. But this book left her feeling like a Disney princess, rather than a relatable female who has been thrust into horrible circumstances.

The romance is a love triangle, and it was sweet and exciting in parts, but the original start between Soraya and Azad was…odd. I have a really hard time with insta-love and insta-intimacy. Upon their first actual meeting Azad basically professes his love and is shockingly not at all freaked out that one touch from Soraya will kill him instantly. He starts touching her hair (how did you know that her hair wasn’t also poisonous?!) and basically tells her how he’s always imaged being/rescuing/marrying her…? And Soraya instantly meets him halfway. What? This just felt so unbelievable for me.

I think the best part of this book is the world building and nod to Persian culture. Though this world isn’t as crazy outlandish and complex as some other YA Fantasies, it is perfectly detailed and the Arabian styled setting is described beautifully. Though of course more would have been so appreciated, the amount given is perfect for the reader to visualize and enjoy the tale.

By the end of Girl, Serpent, Thorn I was pleased with what happened, but I did find it a bit boring and somewhat predictable. I think I was just expecting a different story than what I got. It seems the majority of readers really loved this, so I would definitely read it and come to your own conclusion.

3 Stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo

Binding of Bindings : 10 YA Books with Unique Concepts

Wanna get weird?

 

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~* 10 YA Books with Unique Concepts *~

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1. Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace, Book 1) by Kathryn Purdie
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Bone Criers Moon

Bone Crier’s Moon is the perfect way to kick off this ‘Unique Concepts‘ post, especially because it’s about a tribe of women who kill their soulmates so they can ferry souls across the gates of Heaven and Hell.

The women are called Leurress and their purpose is to guide the Chained and Unchained to the gates they belong to. In order to become a ferrier, each Leurress has to acquire three Grace Bones from animals they hunt and kill themselves. The “Graces” they receive from the animal – like the speed of a rabbit, the sight of a hawk, the stamina of…something – become abilities they then posses as long as they wear the bones.

Once they acquire all three bones, they must complete the final ritual. Using the sacred Bone Flute that opens the gates on ferrying night, the Leurress must play the flute and lure her soulmate to a bridge…and kill him.

(See my review here)

 

2. Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Dooms Day Preppers (I told you it was a genre now)

Last girls

I just read Last Girls last week, and it was fantastic. It’s a story of three sisters who live on a compound with other Dooms Day Preppers, where they train in hand to hand combat, hunting, survival skills, making bombs…you name it.

But there’s a story within this story, and it is epic.

The Juniper sisters are the “weird sisters” wherever they go. Honey is the responsible older sister whose job is to keep her sisters in line and together. Birdie is the middle sister who does what she wants, when she wants. She is the brash and fiery sister. Blue, the youngest, has cobalt blue hair and is the calm that holds the girls together. She also has a tendency to say odd little prophetic sentences at all times of the day and night.

(See my review here)

 

3. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

All your Twisted Secrets

All Your Twisted Secrets:

SAW meets THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

Six seniors are locked in a room with a bomb, a syringe and a note instructing them to pick one person to kill. Before time is up, they must choose one person to inject with the lethal liquid, or they all die.

And Oh. My. Shit. is that ending going to blow your mind.

(See my review here)

 

4. The Hazel Wood series by Melissa Albert
Genre: YA/Fantasy

I personally thought the first book in this series was better, but the concept is still kickass.

It has all the twisted Grimm’s Brothers vibes you could want, and instead of it being a book of bubbly fairy tales and happy endings, it’s very much like a Once Upon a Time version where everything is actually quite fucked up.

The Hazel Wood is an estate where writer Althea Proserpine lives, and where she writes the haunting stories set in an eerie world called The Hinterland. Alice has never read the stories her grandmother wrote, and instead has been outrunning bad luck with her mother for years. But when her mother suddenly disappears, Alice is forced to find her grandmother, becomes it seems that her mother has been taken to a place that wasn’t supposed to be real – The Hinterland.

The world building is so cool, and the fairy tales are jacked up, so naturally I loved it. The Night Country was meh because it turns into more of an Urban Fantasy, but the world building was still amazing.

(See my reviews for The Hazel Wood here and The Night Country here)

 

5. A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health

A Danger to Herself and Others

THIS book.

What a psychological whirlwind this was.

It’s about a girl who is institutionalized for something that happened at school with one of her friends. She claims she didn’t do it and knows that she just has to prove that she is sane so they will let her go home.

But the truth of what happened is so unexpected and so heart-clenching...

…it was immediately one of my new favorite books, and still is.

READ THIS.

(See my review here)

 

6. Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Red Hood

Red Hood is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, but so different and bizarre that you’ll be saying “wtf” while grinning from ear to ear.

This is a straight-up feminist retelling. And when I say feminist, I mean

FEMINIST.

It dives deep into those womanly hardships of feeling unclean, unimportant, unsafe and unworthy. It is unhinging how gritty and purely raw this story is, and the author doesn’t hold back at all.

In this story, men and boys who wish to hurt women are the wolves. But our main character Bisou, and her grandmother, are bestowed with a special gift that allows them to sense the wolves and kill them. But the real magic about this book, is that the shining star of it is PERIODS.

Yeah. I’m not kidding.

(See my review here)

 

7. The Door to January by Gillian French
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery

The Door to January

The Door to January is a really interesting YA Paranormal/Mystery combo in that it has elements of spirits, murder, a fantasy door to the past, and very serious trauma.

It is about a girl named Natalie who went through a very traumatic experience in the woods two years prior to the reader meeting her. Now, after her family had moved away, Natalie keeps experiencing dreams of a door in a house she thinks is from back home. So when she ventures back to her hometown, and she and her cousin investigate the old house, spirits start to communicate with her.

 

This book is bursting with multiple plots and is completely unique.

(See my review here)

 

8. The Life of Death by Lucy Booth
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

The Life of Death

Ugh. What a whirlwind this story was!

The Life of Death is just like it sounds, it’s about the life of death – or the “Grim Reaper“.

As a woman is about to be hung for accusations of being a witch, she is visited in her cell by HIM. He offers her a deal, a chance at a life after death as death itself. And so she accepts.

And so for the next 500 years Elizabeth acts as death, guiding souls across the threshold. But in their dying moments, Elizabeth takes on the face and memories of a loved one that the dying most desires to see. She guides them along with love and compassion.

But when Elizabeth comes across a man whose wife she just helped cross over, she is suddenly struck by love and wants out. So HE gives her a task: HE will assign her five lives that she must take, and then she will be free.

And this is where things get fucked up and sad.

(See my review here)

 

9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Fantasy

The Ten Thousand Doors of january

What a lovely and fantastical story this is!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is all about doors to other worlds, bad men trying to destroy the doors and keep the beautiful secrets inside for themselves, and a young woman trying to get to her father. It’s a tale of EPIC romance, and a coming-of-age fantasy period-piece that NEEDS to be a movie NOW!

Probably one of the best stories I have read in my lifetime, for its exquisite writing and amazing plot.

Just go buy it.

(See my review here)

 

10. Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Genre: YA/Horror/Mystery/LGBT

Wilder Girls

I know a lot of you have seen this one and read it already, but it deserves a spot on this list for it’s astounding yet horrific uniqueness.

Wilder Girls is the feminist Lord of the Flies that you didn’t know you needed. And as I said in my review:

This book will make your skin shift.

Though this is in the Horror category, and is definitely creepy, it isn’t a scary story. It’s creepy in the sense of science fiction in that a school for girls has been infected with a virus they call The Tox. And the Tox effects each girl differently when the flare-ups hit them – from seconds spines and hearts, scales growing on the hands or face to lesions or skin bubbling. The story tracks how the girls live among one another trying to survive, and then figuring out how to escape once the government stops sending them aid.

But the best part of this book is the unflinching unity between these girls who look like monstrous creatures, but have respect towards one another and don’t even bat an eye to one another over physical abnormalities.

Now THAT is an enviable world to live in.

(See my review here)

 

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Stay Witchy

 

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #42: Recent Book Purchases/Gifted ARCs

Here are a few books that I have received and purchased in the last few weeks.
Some are already released and some have upcoming publications.
Either way, they’re all going to be

 

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~* Gifted ARCs *~

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1. Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass
Genre: YA/Contemporary/LGBT
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Available for Request on: Netgalley

Surrender Your Sons

This cover though, right?

Surrender Your Sons is about a young man who is thrown into a conversion therapy camp called Nightlight Ministries after coming out to his extremely religious mother. At the camp Connor learns quickly that there is more to the seemingly converted counselors and the odd camp director. He fights to find a way out and take his fellow campers with him, if only they can figure out how to take the camp down

I had read a book a few years ago called The Dead Inside which is a memoir by Cyndy Drew Etler and documents her time at one of the scared-straight camps that were run by Straight, Inc. and hugely popular in the 80s and 90s. They were “tough love” camps that were riddled with abusive and bizarre acts of therapy. I am expecting Surrender Your Sons to be similar to this or the 2008 film Boot Camp starring Mila Kunis.

 

2. The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary
Release Date: April 17, 2020
The Memories We Bury

H.A. Leuschel is an author I have read in the past, namely her collection of short stories called Manipulated Lives that I found to be incredibly raw. Helena has an uncanny ability to see the faults and darkness that is weaved into humanity, and she is able to portray them to the reader through a tale that feels realistic but also non-judgemental.

The Memories We Bury is her first novel and about a bond that forms between a new mother, her husband and her elderly neighbor. It highlights the motherly habits and traits that both Lizzie and her neighbor Morag have learned through personal experiences, and is a story of having to learn who to trust.

 

3. I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Available for Request on: Netgalley
I killed zoe spanos

I Killed Zoe Spanos is about a girl named Anna Cicconi who arrives in the Hamptons for a Summer job. Upon her arrival she learns of a girl that has been missing since New Years Eve – Zoe Spanos. As Anna learns more about Zoe, she is told by members of the community of her striking resemblance to Zoe, and she soon begins to wonder if they are linked in some way.

But then when Zoe’s body is finally found, Anna is charged with manslaughter with an alibi that doesn’t quite make sense.

The premise is giving me mad The Lies They Tell vibes, which I loved, so I am supper stoked to start this gem.

 

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~* Book Purchases *~

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1. Hidden Bodies (You, Book 2) by Caroline Kepnes
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

Hidden Bodies

I have become horribly obsessed with Joe Goldberg.

He’s just a lover of words and YOU and only wants to get rid of the toxic shit from your life so you can excel and be happy, okay?

*sigh*…swoon.

Thankfully I had found not one, not two, but THREE other girls on Bookstagram who are equally infatuated and understanding of Joe’s murderous ways (@_Shelikestoread , @Heyyitsfahh , @book_and_jane). But only one of us has ever read the books, so we agreed to do a buddy read of You and Hidden Bodies in April, and I am beyond excited. Apparently Joe is MUCH more horrible in the books, but I am sure our love will remain strong.

For those of you who don’t know, You is about a book lover named Joe who works in a bookshop. He meets a woman named Beck who he falls for, slightly totally stalks until she falls for him, and basically he ends up…getting murdery

…I swear he’s totally dreamy.

*This is not an invitation to come stalk me.

 

2. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Genre: Fiction/Horror/Thriller

Pet Sematary

I am not a Stephen King fan…mostly because I’ve never read any of his books.

Does that make me a bad bibliophile???

There has been a lot of recent buzz about this book again with the 2019 movie reboot and the various book merch that has been circulating through Bookstagram and Etsy. In one of my most recent rep packages from Twisted Wonderland Perfumery I received a beautiful Pet Sematary inspired enamel pin of Gage and Church.

Gage and Church

“Sometimes Dead is Better” Enamel Pin and Soaps – Use code TWJENACIDE to save 10%.

So naturally I found myself super curious about the book and looked it up. Pet Sematary is basically about a pet cemetery that has strange and eerie aspects. Louis Creed and his family move to Maine (where every fucked up King scenario takes place), and behind their house there is a path that leads to a Pet Sematary where children have buried their pets. Apparently the family’s cat dies and everything pops off from there.

 

3. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Genre: Nonfiction/Autobiography/Death/Science

Smoke Gets in your Eyes

Now before you get all weird and start looking at me with eyebrows scrunched in concern and pursed lips of disapproval, let me explain.

I’ve always wanted to work in a morgue, and it’s mostly just because of how quiet it would be. I really love hushed voices.

Whispers.

Silence.

And so naturally my weird little gothy book obsessed self is going to scream of excitement when she sees a book like this!

Smoke gets in Your Eyes is the story of Caitlin Doughty’s first cremation job at WestWind Cremation and Burial in Oakland, CA at the age of 23. The book documents her time there and how she learned the ropes at this unconventional job. It is said to be funny, full of information, and gives the reader a new outlook on the dead in general. And obviously that book title is genius.

So I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve found my true genre of book. ❤

 

4. Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

Words in Deep Blue

These last three books I also bought today, but via Ebay because DAMN were they a deal!

But since I have fallen into a deep, dark, sobbing, soul incinerating black hole of heartbreaking YA contemporary…I was starting to run out so I had to buy more.

I’m a masochist okay? I want alllllllll the painful feels!

Words in Deep Blue is said to be a love story. Aw.

It’s about best friends Henry and Rachel, an inseparable duo. Basically Rachel had feelings for Henry, but Henry was all googly-eyed for someone else. But as Rachel is planning to move away, she decides to confess her love for Henry in a letter that she hides in his favorite book in his family’s book store (MAJOR Aw’s, right?!). Some years go by without any contact, and then she comes back to town where Henry lives and…

…well I don’t know. I need to read it.

 

5. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

The palces ive cried in public

Ugh. What a great title.

Can you guys even count all the places you’ve cried in public? I wouldn’t even know where to begin!

Anyways. The Places I’ve Cried in Public is about how Amelie and Reese’s relationship ended, and it sounds like it’s going to be a story of abuse and toxic relationships. These are always super dear to my heart so I am beyond ready to get wrecked over this.

 

6. It Only happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

It only happens in the movies

I am hoping this is going to be one of the most realistic portrayals of romance in YA Contemporary that I’ll be finding, due to the title and the premise.

It Only Happens in the Movies is about a girl named Audrey who begins working at her local cinema to escape her home life, and ends up meeting Harry – a wannabe filmmaker. A romance sparks and they fall fast, but their romance isn’t the fluffy spectacle that is portrayed in the movies. It’s real and difficult and everything nobody likes to talk about.

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · Upcoming Releases

Book Review: What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

What Kind of Girl

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health/Abuse

Plot: Girl In Pieces meets Moxie in this unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?

Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

Opinion:

*sigh*

This one is heavy.

No self-respecting girl would stay with a guy who hit her.”

What Kind of Girl is more than just a domestic violence story.

It’s about two best friends who are both going through extremely trying times in their lives, but don’t reach out to each other for support. It’s about the expectations put on a person by their parents and peers, the assumptions that are made from onlookers, how trauma can drive a person towards self-harm, and the importance of mental health.

I need you to come with me. I need you to say you’re too worried about me to let me go. I need you to stay that you’ll love me whether I change the world or not.”

This book is told by Maya and Junie, two teenagers who are best friends but find themselves suffering alone. Maya is struggling with the repercussions of telling her principle that her boyfriend Mike had been hitting her, as the entire school divides itself and chooses sides. For Maya, the situation is just as confusing to her as it is to others. On the outside, her relationship with Mike seemed perfect, and most days, even she thought so. Mike is the responsible and stellar student, the track star. He is popular and nice to everyone around him, which makes it so hard for students to believe that he was abusing his girlfriend. Throughout the story Maya professes her love for Mike, how sweetly he treated her and how he didn’t want him to get in trouble for fear of him being expelled and losing his scholarship.

It’s hard to believe he would ever do what he’s accused of doing. And if he did, maybe he didn’t mean it. Maybe it was an accident. Or maybe it was justified, somehow.”

Maya always saw herself as a girl who would stick up for herself and immediately tell someone if she was being abused, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen like that. A lot of times victims stay in their relationships because they think that it could have been an accident, that their partner didn’t mean to hurt them, that they just got angry and lost control for a second. But other times it goes deeper. Manipulation plays a huge role. The abuser will not always be the screaming and violent character that is usually portrayed. Some abusers take the opposite approach. Soothing voices, promises of love and respect, ignoring the fact that they have hurt their partner, and learning how to control with their words.

Now, when I think about it, the bracelet reminds me of a handcuff.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing in Maya’s life that is causing her harm. She is bulimic and uses purging as a way to stay in control. Though she is a beautiful girl inside and out, she see’s herself as needing to be thinner or better. Her thoughts on when to eat, when she can throw up, how much food she has consumed takes over her thoughts and places her in an even more isolating place than she already was. To see how her bulimia and abuse were intertwined broke my heart, and all I wanted to do was give her a hug and tell her she wasn’t alone.

His fingers wrap around my upper arm. Sometimes he held me there instead of holding hands, and I’d see extra flesh in between his fingers. I don’t remember if I noticed that before or after I started throwing up.”

The other half of this story is told by Junie, Maya’s best friend. Junie is yet another beautiful girl who struggles with her own demons. She suffers from OCD and panic attacks, intrusive thoughts that leave her dissecting conversations and putting herself down, and cuts herself in order to finally quiet her mind and be still. Junie fights to be the strong and self-assured woman that her parents believe and want her to be. Their high expectations of her to be an activist, to stand up for what is right and make a change, weighs on her greatly. Whether it is her parents, her girlfriend or her peers, Junie feels she must be a leader and shouldn’t have issues like OCD. She sees these things as immense weaknesses and the reason for why she thinks nobody wants her.

So I went deeper again, like I thought maybe I could cut out the bad parts, the lonely parts, the needy parts. The parts that were sad about being alone. The parts that explained why I was alone in the first place.”

This is my second story by Alyssa B. Sheinmel, and it was just as amazing as the first book I read by her – A Danger to Herself and Others. This author knows how to talk about real mental health issues, and display them in a way that is equally beautiful and heart-achingly sorrowful. It’s as if she reaches inside a person’s mind, body and soul, extracts their fears and quirks, and displays them like she’s lived and breathed every aspect of who they are. Her writing and expertise on mental health is superb and she gives a voice to so many people who are struggling or feel lost.

As I suspected it would be, this story was beautiful. It is a gentle portrayal of some very serious topics that so many of us have been affected by, whether it be personally or through a friend or loved one. This author makes these characters so realistic-they have flaws that compliment their stunning attributes and voices that want to speak but just don’t know how. Yes, this book is about mental health and abuse, but it’s also about finding self-love and the importance of friendship. About reaching out when something is wrong, and not worrying about how other’s will look at you or judge you.

We may suffer alone, but we survive together”

-Aly Raisman

4-5-stars

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Wilder Girls

 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s – Delacorte Press, via NetGalley for an honest review. 

Genre: YA/Horror/LGBT/Mystery

Plot: It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

Opinion:

“My other eye’s dead, gone dark in a flare-up. Lid fused shut, something growing underneath.

It’s like that with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.”

This book will make your skin shift,

your toes coil,

and your breath hurt.

With every page it slowly peels away layers of your heart while simultaneously sewing those pieces back together; until you’re left with nothing, but this mismatched, lumpy, irregular beating organ lost inside your chest that you aren’t even sure is yours anymore.

There is a rawness and truth hidden in these beautifully writhing words.

So make sure you’re listening.

“…and I miss the way the wind steals your breath like it never belonged to you in the first place.”

A year and a half ago, the Tox infiltrated their island. It crept its way through the trees and animals, tickled the locks on the gates and doors. It sighed through the ventilation like a whisper after lights out, and it took a hold of every girl with a beating heart and a smile. The Navy said they were looking for a cure. That there is still hope, they just needed more time. But the girls at Raxter don’t have time. The Tox is ripping them apart one by one, making them turn on one another, or worse, making them turn on themselves. But Hetty, Byatt and Resse have each other. And as long as they stick together, they can survive anything.

Unless the next flare-up shreds them from the inside and turns their bodies black.

“About three months into the Tox, they came back from the woods with their names torn out of their heads. The Tox took what they were, took everything except how to hold a knife. It made them stick each other in the main hall during dinner, made them watch themselves bleed dry.”

This book took my body through a mess of psychological and physical torment. My stomach is still writhing around and trying to jump out of my throat, and I’m honestly more than a little concerned that something might be crawling around inside me now. Wilder Girls…is wild. Rory Power has taken the typical “virus outbreak” story and dipped it in a drum barrel of mental terrorism to give you a tale of graceful misery and unorthodox beauty.

Because that is exactly what this toxic storm of starvation, terror, and savagery is.

It’s beauty.

“His skin peels off like strips of paper, gathering under my nails, soft and pulpy.”

These sweet, innocent and delicate young girls are trapped in an asylum that keeps them cut-off from the rest of existence. Their once normal lives have been drowned; washed away by an outbreak that leaves behind unpredictable flare-ups that leave the girls in a state of physical insanity. Bruising from the inside out, second spines and hearts, a silver scaled hand, skin lesions and bubbles. Each girl is a walking nightmare. A grotesque and brutal version of their former selves. But what makes these girls truly breathtaking and beautiful, is that they look at one another without judgement.

Each girl is wild, untamed and ferocious. They are monstrous creatures with brave hearts and convictions. They go to physical blows over scraps of food, but protect one another with a passion and savagery that is…enviable. These girls push through their bleak existence to find love and comfort in one another. It’s a story of strength and iron-will. Of yearning and love that doesn’t need to be explained. These girls aren’t pushed into categories and stigmas, they just ARE.

“Reese and Byatt, they’re mine and I’m theirs.”

The three main girls are Hetty, Byatt and Reese. The story mainly unfolds by the voice of Hetty, but flips over to Byatt’s viewpoint occasionally as it progresses. Hetty and Byatt are extremely close, to the point of near obsession for Hetty. She wants to be everything that Byatt needs, and credits Byatt for being the one to show her who she really is. But somehow, this obsession doesn’t feel poisonous or harmful. It feels loving, respectful and protective.

“Byatt was the one who put the bones in my body.”

The romance in this story is slight, but it is absolutely heartfelt and soft. It isn’t lustful or forced, and it doesn’t take away from the plot. To be honest, it’s one of the only truly good feeling moments in Wilder Girls. The sweetness of it is quick and will be gone before you know it, so enjoy that moment while it lasts. Because this book isn’t going to lull you into blissful dreams.  

“My back arches, eyes slamming open. Thrashing against the straps pinning me, throwing my weight from side to side. Paretta, at the foot of my gurney, saying my name, but she’s the one who did this to me. I scream.”

 

This is a horror story, and it is indeed horrific. It is eerie, creepy and doused in a gloom so thick you can barely focus your eyes. It made me cringe. It made me disgusted. It made me keep the lights an hour after I finished the book. But most of all, it created a pit in my stomach that I still can’t seem to shake. And honestly, that is all I ever want from a book.

For it to leave my body in a state of confusion.

“…I start to know what the rope is for. But I don’t do anything. I sit so my legs are tucked under me. I watch the Tox go to work. On his knees. A rope into a noose. His eyes never close. His grip never changes. He is pulling right until the end.”

5-stars

 

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