Review: Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Fiona Wood
Series: None
Release Date: June 1st, 2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Rating: 5 stars
Word Rating: Beauuutiful
Reviewed by: Melanie

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Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself.
The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are...

"In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.
A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard.
And I kissed Ben Capaldi."

Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.

Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray.

And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.

A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.

'No matter how much you tell yourself nothing has changed, it has.'

An utterly beautiful novel, Fiona Wood threw me around in circles of emotions. Combining every possible element of a YA contemporary to create this seemingly impervious novel. The resplendent prose and imagery do not even begin to cover how magnificent this book was. For this was yet another successful read from a strong Aussie author, fleshing out reality to the barest bone of the pile.

Alternating in the POVs of two exclusive teen voices, in which the only similarity is that they are both lost in their unique ways, messages of loss and love break through the outdoor education camp. As well as grief and happiness. Sex, image and social hierarchy. While not falling into a cliché story, Wildlife is a book of wilderness and finding yourself after you loose yourself. This book made me go on tolls of emotions. While not awfully severe; I got frustrated, pissed off even. Crazed and lost. On the brink of sad tears, or even happy tears. What stood out to me most of this was that I was feeling exactly what Sibylla or Lou were going through. I related with them in the most wholly way anyone could possible get. They were real and true to themselves, feeding me their words like I was their beloved diary.

Sibylla accomplished two things in the holidays that were out of the norm. She kissed Ben Capaldi- popular and everyone loved guy- and her picture appeared on the school billboard. Now, going for a school term in the wilderness at a outdoor education camp, Sib finds herself in a drama of new opportunities, romance and hidden secrets. And also maybe, learns that her closest friends may not me that close at all. It's a wild adventure of betrayal and reality. The way Sib tackled these situations eventually, as they smashed into her face was highly authentic, exposed and spectacularly outspoken. By utilising the backdrop of this novel- the Australian outback- Sib is placed in a zone with no place to hide from, as her complications follow her twenty-four seven.

Then we have a similar yet unambiguously divergent character as our secondary voice, also known from Fiona Wood's debut, Six Impossible Things, Lou. They are similar in the essence that both Sibylla and Lou are confused, exposed and naked. Their external emotions are absolutely in contrast to what is hidden under their unwavering masks. What worried me here was because of these similarities in character, how would I manage to alternate between the POVs that were in first person? Answer: I could separate the two after reading just two sentences. Fiona Wood's intelligence of illustrating two broken teens in two thoroughly detectable tones that were authoritative to the core amazed me. While Sib was experiencing the hardships of assorts of relationships, Lou endeavoured through the recent loss of her love.

The simplistic backstory of a school outdoor camp borders possibilities to the sky. Entwined in here we have numerous strategically addressed harsh and topics that most authors shuffle stealthily away from. Classic high school occurrences are renewed and introduced, such as (like aforementioned) unrestrained desire, jealousy and the portrayal of social hierarchies that are determined by visual-image and to put candidly, sass.

Wildlife just took YA contemporaries to the next level with a broad spectrum of complexities, bittersweet romance that is fresh and wavering as well as a raw story about coming of age. Living in the wilderness could be a hidden doorway to new possibilities, new beginnings and about finding and loosing what's right. Fiona Wood's writing is something not to be overseen- it is analogical in a sense- and emotively enthralling.

In shorter words: Wildlife is a pulchritudinous novel that has take a place in my heart from the moment I finished it. If a book were to be hyped for it's gorgeousness, this would be so hyped that every living thing that could read would have read this.

I will now go and find myself as I have lost myself somewhere between the last few pages of Wildlife.


  1. Beautiful review for an equally beautiful book, Melanie. :D

    I just adored this book to pieces and keep on reading all my favourite parts and quotes ever so often. Your review pretty much sums up all my thoughts and THE CHARACTERS. SO DAMN AMAZING. I was a little confused with the first person dual narration for a while but like you said, it gets so easy to work out who is talking. Oh and UGH. Holly is such a biatch.

    Have you are Six Impossible Things yet? I enjoyed Wildlife better but SIT was fantastic and the prose was just as illuminating.

    1. Ugh, don't let me get started on Holly. I was horrified by her, just a disgusting excuse for a 'best friend'. I haven't read SIT but I am planning to soon as this baby made my day. Well even. Thanks Amelia :)

  2. This is such a gorgeous review Melanie, I adored Wood's Six Impossible Things and so I'm pleased to know her latest novel delivers too. Sibylla and Lou sound like wonderful characters and I'm sure that I'd have no problem connecting with them. I'll definitely try and get a copy of this book asap now!

    1. Yes you must! Sib and Lou are some of the most tangible characters I've encountered for a long time. I'm sure you'll adore this just the same.

  3. Oh, such a shame about the blog background, I hope you ladies get it solved soon! :)

    As for this review, MELANIE YOU READ IT. I haven't seen you give out a five star in ages so that's saying something reaaal big. I loved Wood's prose and the way she wrote this novel was so addictive. I wasn't a niggest fan of Lou though. Brilliant review, Mel!

    1. Thanks Jo. Hopefully in the near future but it's not that bad, on the bright side, the colours match the colour them! Hehe :P

      I loved Lou for her little wall that she built and I was deeply sorry for her loss, shame you didn't think so as much. Wood's writing is simply fabulous. Sweet and raw all at once ^,^

  4. You write the most wonderful reviews, Melanie. I was curious about this book, mostly because of the author, but now I REALLY want to read it. I'm so glad it worked for you! I love the way you describe Sibylla and Lou's different perspectives. It's great that both were distinct and easy to distinguish. That's something I always worry about too, particularly in contemporary novels. I'll definitely have to get my hands ont his as soon as I can. Fantastic review! :)

    1. Thank you Sam! It's truly spectacular, I think you will love this (I think the whole world will because it's THAT amazing) Sib and Lou are so different but have a similarity that is quite remarkable.

  5. This sounds amazing!! I hadn't even heard of it, but it's definitely been added to my list of books that I want to read if I ever have time. (And read some of the other hundreds of books that I have been meaning to read lol) Awesome review Melanie!!

    1. There's way too many books in this world and not enough time. *le sigh* Hah. I look forward to your thoughts when you get round to reading this! >.<


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