Author: Fiona Wood
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
I picked this one up at the library last week. After a closer look, I was disappointed to find out that Wildlife seemed to be the second in a series – but no! It’s actually a companion book, which I generally still like to read in order of publication, but I decided to give this one a try anyway. It can definitely be read as a stand-alone, so don’t let that deter you.
Before I really talk about the book, here’s a quick summary from the author’s website:
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.
I genuinely enjoyed reading Wildlife. The perspective shifts each chapter from Sibylla – who is stuck in the middle of romance-drama with her sort-of boyfriend and friend-drama with her supposed best friend Holly – to Lou, who I definitely preferred as a character. Lou is a new girl at school whose grief over a recently lost loved one bleeds through the pages. She’s got her own flaws, of course, but I found her distinctly more likable than Sibylla. Her diary-like poetic style of narration was also more interesting than Sibylla’s storytelling techniques.
The character growth and development throughout this book, on the part of each of the characters in turn, is what kept me flipping the pages. There are no static characters – each molds and shifts and chooses new paths, which really reflects life, in a way. The summer-camp-esque setting also brings good-natured fun into the mix and really lightened some of the darker tones the book has at times.
The one thing that I didn’t like was that Sib was so oblivious to Holly’s machinations. Holly is obviously, obviously a scheming manipulator and not a good friend in the slightest, and for Sib to blindly follow her and continue being “besties” through most of the book is pathetic to read about. That element of the story was unrealistic and annoying, especially because Sib seems like an otherwise intellectually capable individual.
Lou’s half of the book was stunning, and Sib’s was okay but slightly annoying. If you want something with emotional impact but also plenty of standard teen fluff, read this. Like I said before, I did genuinely enjoy it. And since Lou is apparently from the companion novel, I’m also going to give that a read – I think it’ll be worth it.
3 out of 5 stars.