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Wild Girls

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  490 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
Daringly imagined, atmospheric, and original, Wild Girls is an exhilarating debut—part coming-of-age story and part supernatural tale about girls learning their own strength.

Kate Riordan fears two things as she grows up in the small Appalachian town of Swan River: that she’ll be a frustrated townie forever or that she’ll turn into one of the mysterious and terrifying wild
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Scribner (first published October 9th 2012)
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Jan 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: girls-gone-wild

this is a piece of adult fiction that i think would probably find a more sympathetic readership amongst a YA audience.

because as allegory, as homeroom-doodle revenge fantasy, this has a lot of potential. it's all about the perceived powerlessness of teenage girls and what if some girls in this town had a switch that no one could see but every so often it would be flipped somehow and that girl would go buckwild with the flames and the flying and the unstoppable violence and everyone would be so
Lumpy Space Princess
Oh my glob, y'all! This was so freakin' hot! It's about this town with like, urban legends about creepy girls with superpowers and junk and can light things on fire… with their minds!! And the main girl, Kate, is afraid she's going to light things on fire, too! And Kate's always thinking about deep things like incipient adulthood and like puberty and junk… WITH HER MIND!!!!! I was sooo scared, you guys! And there were lots of hot boys that like, want to make out with our sassy heroine but she wo ...more
Kate Riordan lives in Swan River, a small town somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains with a history of crazy teenage girls who, out of the blue, will spend a night burning things down and murdering people before the urge wears off as fast as it came. Kate, who attends a fancy private academy and plans to go to college, doesn't want to become a wild girl. But since no one understands how it happens, how can it be prevented?
I picked this book because it sounded out of my usual genres but also ap
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
You might think this will all come together in the end while clumping along, but it won't.
You might also think this is an adult novel, trust me, it's pure YA in its worst form from too much teen angst in a whiny voice to the obligatory love triangle that expands itself even further, add some mean girls and a weird, sort-of supernatural element thrown in to draw the crowds.
You will also possibly expect lyrical writing and hope for the "Wild Girls" to be not just magical but also interesting, s
I received this in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

"Wild Girls" by Mary Stewart Atwell is a coming of age story of a young girl in a small Appalachian town with two big fears; staying put for the rest of her life, or becoming a violent Wild Girl.

While I have read worse books, I didn't overly enjoy this story either. It was ok. I felt the characters were under developed, and a plot line that depended on the pecking order of teen girls. There wasn't a lot of build up towards understanding what ca
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
About 3.5 stars. At first I was a bit disappointed, because I didn't know where it was going, but then I got caught up in the story and the characters. The supernatural weirdness seems to jump out of nowhere. I felt the book was a bit uneven, but then I just got really into it.

Loved the descriptions of the Appalachian town, the female relationships and the way that the main character worries a lot about becoming evil, or getting stuck.

I'm a sucker for stories about teenage girls in boarding sch
Nov 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There are times when the serendipity offered up by the New Books shelf at the library causes me great joy, and there are times when it causes me to curse the day I ever learned to read. Today it's the latter. I am not sure what exactly I expected (something 70s, with free love, I think), but horror was certainly not on my list for today. I stay away from horror on purpose, mostly because it's, um, horrifying. I stuck with it for the first 150 pages, but then I started to skip and skim and peek t ...more
Mary Bokkon
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It thought it was great, very atmospheric, and it reminded me a bit of Elizabeth Hand's /Waking the Moon/ in a good and non-derivative way. I agree with what some others have said, that it feels more like YA than "adult fiction."

My only complaint is the ending feels rushed--it's a first novel, though, so you gotta kind of give her pass... I would have given it five stars, but those last few starts moving too fast, doing too much.

I especially like Mason. He's good stuff. ;-) Plus,
Wild Girls is literary fiction that's actually easy to read. A completely original story by an author who obviously has a unique imagination. A book that would appeal to an older YA audience as well as adults. Atwell is adept at telling a story that gets you thinking in a teenage girl's voice. I went Hunh at the end, but in a good way. She does not tell a story in an obvious way, and there were moments that I had to re-read passages to get their meaning.

Pick it up if you like Curtis Settenfeld
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The girls of Swan River aren't just wild - they're murderous! Mary Stewart Atwell's debut novel is more than your average coming-of-age story: it's dark and creepy and fantastic - I'll definitely be keeping my eye on this author!
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book, and I was so disappointed. I felt like there was just so much missing, it was predictable, and the ending left a lot of unanswered questions. The author, I think, writes short stories, maybe she should have stuck with keeping it a short story...
Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read. The explanation for the wild girls was satisfying but not solid.
Sep 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
[ English review below ]
"Avevo soprannominato -sorriso dell'autostrada-quella sua espressione determinata e malinconica, ma probabilmente lui non era mai stato in autostrada in vita sua"

Volevo leggere questo libro da molto tempo e forse per questo motivo, mi aspettavo una storia diversa. Durante la lettura, sono passata dal mood "wow quanto caspita è figo questo libro" a "ma quando finisce?!". Sono rimasta un po' delusa.
Secondo me, la storia poteva essere sviluppata meglio: durante la lettu
Erin O'Riordan
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kate Reardon is a high school freshman. Her father has passed away when Kate was small. She lives with her mother, her mom's boyfriend Travis (the local sheriff's deputy, and a nice guy although a bit of a stoner), and her older sister Maggie. They live in the small Southern town of Swan River. The river is the town's predominant feature. Many of the residents spend their whole lives without crossing the bridge out of town, but not Kate and Maggie. Mother Reardon is an administrative assistant f ...more
Megan RFA
Probably more like a 3.5. I wish we could give half-stars in our reviews. The best thing about this story is the characters. They are nuanced and interesting. They could be people you know or have met. The story also manages to include some predictable YA themes without veering into cliche, so that was refreshing. Definitely worth picking up if you want something fast and fun to get lost in for a few days, but don't overwork yourself trying to take it too seriously.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book can be summed up in this one excerpt from page 231: "If I knew someone who was becoming a wild girl, I would tell her to add up everything that matters to her - the people she loves, her hopes for the future. Put that on one side of the scale and, on the other, put the satisfaction of destroying what you hate."

This book is about young women and what happens when their rage takes on a supernatural power - and whether or not each girl has the power to control it.
Mac Ford
I woke up at midnight and couldn't go back to sleep, so I read this book. And finished at 4 hours later. WOW. Not what I expected—I'd picked it up expecting more of a Heathers kinda vibe, but this was more supernatural/mythology come to small-town life. Powerful and violent and strange all the same.
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why I wanted to read Wild Girls (from my Waiting on Wednesday post):

a coming-of-age story
set in a small Appalachian town
a brilliant twist on the anger teenage girls can feel at their powerlessness

Wild Girls exceeded any expectations that I had (which were pretty high). It wasn't the angst-filled drama that description led me to believe it to be. It is part mystery, part coming-of-age and very intense throughout. Anticipating when the wild girls may appear and what brought them about was enoug
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
(More accurately 3.5 stars)

I have a lot to say about Wild Girls.

First, the cover really doesn't work for me. Though it could be because the library I got this from put it in Adult Fic instead of YA, and the cover does look very YA.

I really love the concept of Wild Girls. I love a lot of its content. It had some really great things to say about class, about class divides in rural environments, about sexism, about being a teenage girl and trying to figure out what to do with your life. About navig
There's something strange about country town Swan River. Over the course of multiple centuries, girls between the ages of sixteen and eighteen--"wild girls"--have committed horrific acts with dubious magical qualities. Kate Riordan is determined not to follow in the path of her sister and become a wild girl. She attends a good school and is set on a college path. However, the mysteries of Swan River call to Kate and her friend Willow, and their futures will be inextricably tangled with those of ...more
Wild Girls is a dark Appalachian tale that winds along like the river within the town's story. At first glance, it resembles a creek, a bit rambling and narrow in focus. Perhaps because I attended the women's college most likely to be the basis for the main character's girls' high school, Swan River Academy--perhaps because of this, I was overly familiar with the mise en scene. Meant to build the river bed upon which the story flows, many of the quirky details of life at the Academy were instant ...more
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many generalizations, the one about literary vs. genre fiction is grounded in truth. In literary fiction, the protagonist is usually an extraordinary person dealing with ordinary circumstances, while in genre fiction the main character is usually an ordinary person dealing with extraordinary circumstances. By this trope, wild girls is clearly a genre novel. It has both feet firmly in the fantasy realm. The main character's life is ordinary. Although her surroundings are somewhat unusual in ...more
Serena (Cioccolato e Libri)
I reminders mi stanno conquistando, ultimamente. Mi riferisco soprattutto ai fantasy che ho recensito in questi ultimi due mesi, perché sono state davvero delle storie bellissime.
Ci sono stati dei libri che mi sono piaciuti più di altri, ovviamente, ma quasi tutti sono stati delle piacevoli sorprese.

Con "Le streghe di Swan River" entriamo in una storia di tradizioni cittadine e strani misteri, nella vita di un'adolescente che ha paura di diventare una "ragazza selvaggia" e di uccidere qualcuno.

Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What I really adored about this book was how impeccably created the Appalachian atmosphere is. For someone like me, who's grown up not in the Appalachia area, but incredibly near to it, it felt very authentic and like I had been dropped into the muggy days and nights in the small town mountains. Swan River was very real to me purely from the perspective of Atwell's descriptions.

Furthermore, the characters in this book were fascinating and engaging, each with their own complexities. Many of them
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with Sawn River and was fascinated by the Wild Girls. Mary S. Atwell did a brillant job with character development as well and the "love triangle" as this young coming-of-age novel is anything but typical. I cannot wait for my daughter to read it so we can talk about it! Bright 5 stars from me!

My rating system is as follows:

5 stars - Excellent, Worth Every Penny, Made It Into My Personal Library!
4 stars - Great book, but not a classic.
3 stars - Good overall, generally well writte
Two and a half stars, at most...

I'm not sure I understood this book. The supernatural part of it was so disjointed to me. It would have made way more sense if the girls had just gone out of their minds and committed crimes, rather than developing super powers that caused them to burn things down and slash people to bits with their own two hands. If you had taken that entire section of supernatural out, it would still be a book about teenaged girls living in small towns and wanting so much more
Robbins Library
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jenny-recommends
Wild Girls is narrated by Kate, who lives in a small Appalachian town called Swan River. Kate has only ever wanted to leave the town, and the fancy private school where her mother works is her ticket out - if she can keep safe from her greatest fear: turning into a wild girl. Swan River has a history of "wild girls," girls who go crazy and become murderers or arsonists. The Academy's new headmaster, Dr. Bell, is particularly interested in this phenomenon, as is Kate's studious friend Caroline, b ...more
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an odd book and I have mixed feelings about whether I liked it or not. It takes place in a small town in the Appalachians where there exists a exclusive old style finishing school for girls. Kate is a local whose mother works at the school and is able to have her daughter enrolled. There is also a legend of the wild girls who become temporarily possessed by a supernatural force that causes them to be violent. Kate is worried it will happen to her as she tells her story. I felt the charac ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wild Girls, we all are in our own way... This coming of age novel is tinged with the supernatural and violence. What I liked is that the characters had a bit of life to them and Kate, while wanting to both love and hate Willow,isn't your typical wallflower as you see in most stories like these. Willow opens her world while also leading her to a dangerous place. What wasn't I fond of? The ending- it felt abrupt and left me saying 'huh' but I still enjoyed the story. I would love to see how this a ...more
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“Each book was like an underwater cave, and when I rose again to the surface, I was pale and grumpy, resentful of everyone who hadn't been where I'd been.” 13 likes
“The wild girl is with me always; she is my rage and my hunger, and if I live what passes for a decent life in this world, it is because I know to say no to the thing inside me that yearns, even now, to burn it all down.” 3 likes
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