I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019
Source: the publisher
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.
This book was such a wild ride. I honestly still don’t really know how I feel about it. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it but it was weird but it was intriguing but but but… I really don’t even know. I think this is the most conflicted my feeling have been over a book in a VERY long time, if ever. The writing was very choppy and hard to follow in the beginning, but I got used to it after awhile. I was kind of meh on the characters, but started really enjoying it when we got Byatt’s POV.
I really loved the idea of the Tox and wanted more. I wanted to know what it was, how it came to be, why it effected everyone so differently, etc. When it came to the Tox, I was suspicious of literally everyone and everything. I kept thinking there was going to be some kind of huge reveal about it, like that the government had released it by accident (re: The Crazies), or maybe even on purpose. I was truly intrigued by it, and I’m still not sure if I was satisfied or not with the final reveal of what it was. Plus, I was a bit thrown off by some of the science and logistics because some of it really didn’t make sense. I can do the whole “suspension of disbelief” to a certain extent, but there were too many questions with this one.
The last 80-100 pages were the most thrilling/intriguing. A lot happened, a lot was revealed, and a lot was left unanswered. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say the ending was left pretty open-ended. It almost reminded me of a horror/thriller movie where they do the same thing, and you’re left with more questions than answers.
So, overall, I think I liked this book more than I expected to, but it still had some meh moments. I think it would make an excellent movie. It’s very visual and I’d like to SEE some of that visual. I also want more stories from this world, but I want DIFFERENT stories from DIFFERENT characters. Even different time periods, like before the Tox (but like BEFORE Hetty, Byatt and Reese were on the island.. Maybe we’ll find out this has happened before). I’d also like to see a story that’s set after the events of the book but with different characters. My favorite would be if there was a sequel set maybe 50 years later, and the island is abandoned and then some teens decide to spend the night partying there and share ghost stories of what happened, and then they all suddenly get infected or get haunted by the spirits of the dead, or the wildlife and animals attack them, or the girls who went “feral” are there and attack them or or or… *Clears throat* Can you tell I watch too many made-for-TV horror movies? Hehe. But in my defense, this really would all make an EXCELLENT horror movie.
Anyway.. So, yes.. I think I can safely say I recommend this to anyone who loves creepy thriller horror dark books and movies. This one will def leave you with lots of thoughts and questions. I don’t recommend it if you don’t like cliffhanger endings in stand-alone books, though. Because it definitely leaves you guessing.