July 5, 2015

Book Review: Wildlife by Fiona Wood

July 5, 2015

by Fiona Wood
Series: Six Impossible Things/Wildlife #2
Publication: Poppy on September 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Friendships

A semester in the wilderness?
Let me survive it.
Hey, let me enjoy it.

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 love that gets complicated?  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.

In this tender, funny story of first love, good friendship, and going a little bit wild, Fiona Wood introduces two unforgettable girls who discover that before you can be true to yourself, you have to figure out exactly who you are.

The other day while at the library (as I so often am), a friendly librarian approached me and we struck up a conversation.  She directed me to the library's new book displays and special awardees.  A particular book that stood out to me from the "Best Fiction for Young Adults 2015" shelf handpicked by librarians was Wildlife by Fiona Wood.

I went into this book knowing I would love it.  And I did.

The book is split in dual narration.  Throughout the course of the story, we are introduced to and become fully familiar with two very heartbreakingly real characters, Sibylla and Lou.  I for one am usually not a fan of dual narration, as the jumping back and forth between perspectives is often choppy and badly laced together as a whole.  And at first, I admit, I was not a fan of the dual narration between Sibylla and Lou in Wildlife.  It confused me.  However, as I continued reading on, I became more comfortable with both characters and learned to love reading from each perspective.

Sibylla is faced with first love and friendship.  Lou is dealing with heartbreak - loss of a loved one.  During the girls' term in the wilderness, they must both learn and grow in their own ways.  Sibylla must learn what it means to love, to be loved, and most importantly, what it means to be a friend and to have a friend.  Lou, on the other hand, must learn to cope and slowly open up to others.  Both of the girls' journeys are literary gems that truly shine.

I especially appreciated how author Fiona Wood wrote of "the real" teenage experience.  Sibylla and Lou may not be based on real-life characters, but they certainly came to life in their pages.  Dialogue is equal parts whip-smart and humorous, characters flawed yet honest, and the overall reading experience deserving of praise.

I loved the setting, the idea, the . . . really?  The everything.

My favorite part, however?  Michael.  Sibylla's since childhood friend, and Lou's newfound friend.  All characters were well written, but Michael is one like no other.  His unique personality and outlook on life may be off-setting at first, but you'll love him by the end of the novel.  If anything, I wish readers were given more pages filled with Michael's quirkiness and smarts.

Read Wildlife.  Fiona Wood is an author I'll definitely be keeping tabs on in the future.

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Julia Anne

I'm a teen with a refined taste for good books and great writing, currently living in Honolulu, HI. I'm a reader. A dreamer. And an aspirant writer. One day I have hopes to travel the world, but for now, I'll settle with venturing through the written works I read.


  1. This is such a lovely review, Julie Anne! :D

    I absolutely LOVE novels that centre on friendship (but also have some romance on the side because despite everything I AM a romantic at heart), because I think that this aspect of teen life is overlooked in YA a lot of the time. I mean, when I was in high school most of my friends didn't even HAVE boyfriends, and our friendships with each other were really important. So I love it when YA books have a focus on that!

    And imperfect characters with flaws are awesome when they're done well. No one is perfect, and I like it when that's emphasised.

    Michael sounds like a really interesting character that I'd like to read about!

    I hadn't really been interested in this novel before, but your review definitely has be intrigued :D

    1. Hey, Chiara! Thanks so much for visiting the blog.

      Like you, I'm also a big fan of novels that focus on friendship and first love. There's something so special about reading of the honesty, genuineness, and fragility of the teenage experience.

      Yes - it's always a plus to see flawed characters grow. And I think you'd love Michael. :)

      Thanks again!
      Julia Anne


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