Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Review: "Wildlife" by Fiona Wood

Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself. The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are… In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened. A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard. And I kissed Ben Capaldi. Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula. Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray. And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild. A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.

Thank you to Little, Brown Books via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?
Something about this book got me right in the gut!  I don't know if it was the characters, the writing, the Australian camp setting, or what, but yeah, Wood had me in her grip nearly from the first page.  (I say "nearly" because it took a bit for me to figure out the style and the fact that there were two different narrators - at first I thought there was only one and I was totally confused!).  

There's kind of a lot going on in this book, so I won't bore you with a synopsis or descriptions of all the interpersonal relationships, but I will say this:  the characters here feel real.  The more YA books I read, the more I think that writing authentic characters must be extremely difficult, because hardly anyone can do it right.  After reading "Wildlife", I'm convinced that Fiona Wood does it right!  Even though Sibylla frustrated me at times, I still loved her.  She reminded me a lot of one of my friends in junior high.  Lou was fabulous - it was so cool to be able to see the group dynamics from an impartial bystander, and it was also great to see her eventually open up a bit and get more invested with some of her classmates.  I hated Holly with a passion, and I wanted to kick Ben's ass!  And Michael?  I just wanted to give him a big hug and keep him safe.  But my point is that I don't always feel such intense feelings about characters when I'm reading, and it takes a pretty special book to make me get so emotionally involved.

Will you like this book?

Anybody looking for a more realistic Contemporary YA read should love this book!

Will I read more by this author?

Absolutely!  I've heard great things about "Six Impossible Things", so I've already added that to my list of books to be read in the near future.  

My rating:

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