Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.
With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.
Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again.
I received this book from the author/publisher via Netgalley for free, however, this is a voluntary review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
In The Wild Ones, readers are invited to join Paheli and a group of young women who have escaped horrid pasts by using magic gifted to them by the boy with stars in his eyes.
This book intrigued me on many different levels; one being the beautifully illustrated cover, another being the premise of the story, but the main attraction being the author–whom I greatly respect after encountering her powerful storytelling in her book The Candle and the Flame. However, because I loved The Candle and the Flame so much, I was expecting something far different than what The Wild Ones has to offer, which in the end, left me disappointed.
The writing style is unlike anything I’ve ever read in YA fantasy. It is incredibly whimsical and poetic, which, for me, takes away from the story because the writing would almost become so much like poetry that it tried to speak to the reader personally and forgot to tell the story. Though when I step back and look at the book as a whole, I’m not convinced that the author even wants you to read The Wild Ones for the story at all, but rather for the advocation and awareness that she brings to the mistreatment of women across the world. So, some readers may fall in love with this style of storytelling, however, I had a difficult time engaging with the story and the characters because of how it’s written and formatted. It took me nearly five months to finish it–which is severely long for me.
To expound on the feminist message and story present, I believe this book is meant to bring awareness about women who are preyed on (in many ways) and the story is an aid to get that message across, rather than the message aiding the progression of the story. So in other words, readers will get a very loud message with a side plot of story instead of a really good story with a powerful accompanying message. This is fine, of course, as many readers may like this, but after reading The Candle and the Flame, I picked up The Wild Ones expecting an exciting fantasy story. And while there is fantasy and a story present in this book, it’s more of a collection of the author’s thoughts and views on feminism told through about twelve different women who happen to be going on a fantastical quest. This left me pretty bored because the story was so minuscule compared to the message that I couldn’t even learn all of the character’s names because they all blended together into this one, unanimous voice trying to tell me how men mistreated them and how they saved themselves. There were just so many characters with similar stories (and when they spoke, they spoke as a collective unison, so even if the story switched points of view, whoever was speaking was still speaking for the entire group. There was no individuality–which may have been the point, but it made it difficult for me to follow).
The book is also incredibly raw when referring to topics, too many of which I would consider trigger warnings but I simply cannot name them all. Especially in the nature of abuse, sex trafficking, rape, infidelity, and many other things that these women were rescued from or experienced before Paheli shared her magic and turned them into a Wild One. There are no detailed recounts of the actual events that took place, however, the feelings of these women and the memories haunt them are written in ways that are clearly meant to envoke heavy feelings of sympathy or meant to relate to readers who may have also experienced the same type of situation. So because of this, I would heavily advise caution to readers who may have endured any kind of traumatic situation and may still be healing from that. I will also mention, for other readers to make their decision on picking up this book, that there is strong support for the LGBQT+ community and while there are hints at an LGBQT+ romance, there is nothing beyond flirting (I’m clarifying because many of the other reviews I’m reading are making this book seem incredibly LGBQT+ focused, and I just didn’t see that as I read it. Supportive, but not focused).
Overall, I still adore The Candle and the Flame and will continue to drive my friends crazy as I encourage them to pick it up, however, this one just didn’t cut it for me and I almost wish I hadn’t read it because it will make me incredibly hesitant to read any future books by this author–unless it was connected in some way to The Candle and the Flame. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.