Wildlife by Fiona Wood
I had misgivings about this book at first, mainly because the covers made me think it was just one of those silly happy-ending romance books (which, I admit, I do enjoy from time to time… but there are those fair few that are just crap, frankly). I thought this would be one of those, but it was better than I’d expected. Firstly, it actually wasn’t really a romance book at all. I really liked that it’s more of a friendship book. It is a book that delves into first love territory, but not in that ‘I’ll love you forever’ die-hard way. It’s more about losing first love than anything else. But what was most important was how the girls Sibylla and Lou dealt with this love and their friendships.
As I’ve already started with the positives, I’ll continue on with them for awhile. I liked Lou and her part of the story a lot. It made me wish that I’d read Fiona Wood’s Six Impossible Things before reading this, as I probably would have enjoyed Wildlife more had I known more about Lou, Fred and Dan. The boys aren’t present in Wildlife, but very relevant to Lou. But I won’t spoil that particular part of the novel for you, in case you want to read the kind-of prequel before this kind-of sequel. Lou was my favourite character because she reminded me of myself in a lot of ways. She keeps to herself, reads a lot and doesn’t take bullshit from anyone. Particularly Holly, but that’s moving into the negative realm, so more on that later. Lou’s dealing with grief and trying to fit in was beautiful to read. I loved her friendship with Michael and her eventual friendship with Sibylla, though it didn’t quite reach the peak I though it would. Michael was my other favourite character. I liked him because he didn’t try to fit in with everyone else and well… he was a bit weird, too, which I loved.
Sibylla was a pretty good character in all, but also the kind of character I find quite frustrating. The whole book she’s dealing with becoming popular after being on a billboard and getting the attention from Ben Capaldi, the guy everyone loves, who she has a romance with that sucked quite a lot if you ask me, though was cute at times. And then of course, there’s her “best friend” Holly. I don’t know how she’s put up with Holly for so long because that girl is an idiot. I didn’t like Sibylla much when she was around Ben and Holly, but I did like her a lot when she was with her oldest friend Michael and when she starts hanging out more with Lou. Basically the times when she’s herself and not pretending to be someone she isn’t. But flaws a good and that’s why I won’t put her character down too much.
Obviously my least favourite part about this book was Holly. I mean, she’s meant to be entirely unlikeable, that’s obvious, but I basically skipped over the parts where Holly was talking nonsense or bossing Sib around or flirting with Ben because I found them incredibly boring and stupid. There is literally nothing good about Holly whatsoever. Usually I quite like flawed characters, but not this kind.
There were some other kind of boring chapters in the novel as well, such as the parts that go on about scary ghost stories too long for my liking. I also didn’t think that the whole camp part of the story really added much to the novel. It was kind of just like a plot device setting. But, in saying that, I did really enjoy reading the section where Lou did her solo hike.
This novel was worth the read in parts that explored themes of grief, loss and belonging in a way I thought was evocative, but other parts were quite forgettable. I’m glad it wasn’t a straight, predictable read, but at the same time I don’t think it’s a novel that will stay with me forever. I am interested in reading the prequel at some point, and I’d read a sequel if it were to have Michael in it, but otherwise, forget about it.