September 23, 2014

Latest Read: Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Wildlife by Fiona Wood
Publication date: Sept. 16, 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received from publisher via Netgalley (Thanks!)
Summary: During a semester in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of dorm life, but friendship drama and an unexpected romance with popular Ben Capaldi? That will take some navigating. New girl Lou has zero interest in fitting in, or joining in. Still reeling from a loss that occurred almost a year ago, she just wants to be left alone. But as she witnesses a betrayal unfolding around Sib and her best friend Holly, Lou can't help but be drawn back into the land of the living. (Adapted goodreads.com)


My Thoughts
Two things: I didn't realize this was a companion novel until I started reading it (this is the second time I've done this!) and my opinion will probably be in the minority but that's okay.

Wildlife is about a group of teenagers who attend Crowthorne Grammar's outdoor education camp for a school term. It's both exclusive and dreaded but it seems like a memorable experience. Enter the two main characters: Sibylla and Lou, although the book feels more like Sibylla's story. She's used to being quiet and in the background but then a recent and random photoshoot which lands her picture on a billboard changes her social life. People are suddenly paying more attention to her and her "best friend" Holly is torn between using Sibylla's surge of fame and jealousy (guess which part wins out?). Then Lou is a character from Wildlife's predecessor, Six Impossible Things. She's grieving the death of someone very important to her and this trip could potentially be a chance to regroup and begin to heal. But her instinct is to keep her distance from everyone, which she does, but then she inevitably becomes intrigued by the growing drama between Sibylla and Holly and finds herself starting to worm her way in.

Two more things: I really adored Lou. I did not like Sibylla.

Sibylla first. I genuinely tried to be understanding but I didn't understand her or connect to her. I understood being quiet and letting other people be loud for her. But it was just so extreme! I mean Holly was absolutely horrible. I can't remember the last time I disliked a character so much and Sibylla kept making excuses for her, despite how obviously backstabbing Holly was. Holly was clearly mad and jealous about the billboard, simultaneous pushed and undermined the relationship Sibllya was beginning to have with this guy Ben (I didn't even understand the attraction there!), pressured her to have sex and continually put her down. With Holly for a "friend", I'm surprised Sibylla had any self-esteem left. When she finally stands up for herself, it was just so.. pitiful. I'm sorry but it was like, girlfriend you need to grow a spine and tell Holly off. Not to mention that no one should be deciding what you do with your body except for you. I just couldn't relate or sympathize.

Lou, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air. My only complaint is that we didn't get to know more about her! Although, I think this was only an issue for me because I didn't know her from Six Impossible Things. But what I did learn about her, I liked. She's honest, smart, introspective and has a good head on her shoulders. She's also a good friend and she's not afraid to stand up for herself or the people she cares about. Every time she reflected on the person she had lost, I just wanted to keep hearing more about her life during that time and this person who meant so much to her. To me, she was the star of this book.

Do I recommend?
Even though I didn't love it, I would still recommend checking it out to decide for yourself. I enjoyed the author's candidness and honesty especially when it came to teenagers, sex, love and friendship. I think part of the reason why I got so worked up is because I know people exactly like Holly and it made me reflect on friendships, current and past. I think my intense reaction says something about the author's writing so this may be for you.

Happy reading!

3 comments:

  1. I just recently read and reviewed this one too, and like you, I thought it was okay, but I didn't love it. I liked Sibylla, I think because I felt like I was that several years ago in my life. It took me a while to work up the courage to finally speak up for myself, so I identified with her. But I TOTALLY agree with the questioning of Ben. I was super confused at how he was the supposedly cute, smart, popular one? He seemed to have the personality of a duffel bag....

    Cassie @ Happy Book Lovers

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  2. I felt exactly the same way about Sybilla! And Holly! And Ben! Just, what in the world was going on there?! Holly was horrible, but I could not stop reading about what she would do next! I actually thought the dynamic between her and Sybilla was really interesting, but in the end, I was kind of like "how did she let this go on for so long?!"

    I didn't know this was a companion at first either, and I wonder if reading the first book would have made me feel differently?

    Angie @ Pinkindle

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  3. I couldn't really get into Wildlife, so I had to set it aside for now. But I'm intrigued by the premise! I wasn't entirely certain about either character (50 pages did not give me all that much to go on), but at least I consider myself forewarned after reading your review. Only time will tell if I ever pick it up again!

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