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The Wild Ones

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From William C. Morris Finalist Nafiza Azad comes a thrilling, feminist fantasy about a group of teenage girls endowed with special powers who must band together to save the life of the boy whose magic saved them all.

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.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published August 3, 2021

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About the author

Nafiza Azad

7 books1,199 followers
Nafiza Azad is a self-identified island girl. She has hurricanes in her blood and dreams of a time she can exist solely on mangoes and pineapple. Born in Lautoka, Fiji, she currently resides in BC, Canada where she reads too many books, watches too many Kdramas and writes stories about girls taking over the world. Her debut YA fantasy, THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME, was released by Scholastic in 2019.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 315 reviews
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 7 books1,199 followers
December 27, 2020
Dear Reader,

I wrote this book for many reasons but perhaps the most prominent among them would be that sometimes you have no choice but to confront your vulnerabilities. Sometimes you have to stare at the person in the mirror no matter how much she scares you or hurts you. So I did.

THE WILD ONES comes with a whole slew of content and trigger warnings so please be kind to yourself and pass on it if you need to. The story is, I confess, to an extent, an own voices one.

I've been there. I have tasted the helplessness, the darkness, the frustration, and the anger. The guilt, the self-blame, the hurt. THE WILD ONES is my rallying cry for every girl out there. It wasn't your fault. You are not unworthy. You are precious. This world is yours too.

I may have gotten things wrong but please understand there was no conscious malice intended. The story is true to my experiences and my experience isn't universal.

The novel contains a lot of humour, a lot of sisterhood, some romance, and a whole ton of anger. It also contains hope, because how can we be human without hope?

I hope you enjoy THE WILD ONES and I hope it reaches you and touches you in any way you need it to.
Profile Image for may ➹.
471 reviews1,898 followers
Shelved as 'maybe'
December 17, 2020
LOOK AT THIS COVER this is so gorgeous and I am so gay
Profile Image for Maddie (Inking & Thinking).
167 reviews123 followers
June 4, 2021
⭐️ 2.5 Stars ⭐️

I wanted to enjoy this book, but it ended up falling flat for me. The premise seems very interesting, but the concept didn’t end up living to its full potential. The cover is stunning, and I loved the idea of a magical girl squad that could represent many readers who felt not represented in the YA genre.

The Wild Ones is on girls and women that centers on their hard struggles in life, the strength they can find from others, and creating a loving family that they can feel supported. Azad expands on how we form relationships and the horrors or beauty that can lay within them.

This novel brings to center stage issues girls and women face around the world in our society. It demonstrates how we can find a community with others to face head-on the struggles that all women endure. We get to see how the survivors cope after these horrible experiences they have faced over their lifetime.

One of the main problems with this book was it was so difficult to follow this book. The book switched between the first person of Paheli, the leader of the Wild Ones, and another point of view of one of the wild ones. But we are never told who the other point of view is. This made it even more confusing because it was just some mysterious Wild One we don’t know much about.

There were also so many characters in this book. There were 11 girls in the Wild Ones then you have various side characters as well as Taraana. I didn’t get the chance to know who they were and what they were like as people. I don’t even remember most of the Wild One’s names except Paheli, Valentina, and Taraana. I would have liked to know about the characters, we do get these little excerpts from each Wild Ones, but for me, that isn’t enough. Either the characters should get more development or have fewer Wild Ones so we can learn more.

The writing was another major problem in this book was the writing. Usually, there is only one writing style used in the book, but various writing styles were confusing to follow. There were moments where the writing style was full of so much life and written beautifully. Other times, we switch to writing, which was similar to middle-grade writing style, and it was choppy, and many things were redundant.

But other times the writer did the one thing writers should avoid. Instead of showing the story through the writing, she just straight up told us what was happening. This took so much away from the story and creates a disconnect for me. A wide majority of this including telling, rather than showing, so it wasn’t like it happen once, but it happens consistently. The writing style did not match up with the more serious themes presented in the book.

The worldbuilding was very weak. Most of the time, we would receive vague descriptions of places The Wild Ones would travel. In this world, there is a place called “the between,” where you can travel to any place you want through doorways. We are told that there is a Keeper of the Between. I would have liked the concept of the between expanded upon more because I didn’t “really” know what it was. I just thought of it as a place with doorways where you can travel to other locations.

Not only do we have “The Between,” in this book, but we also have humans and Middle Worlders. Middle Worlders are people who can use magic. Many times in the book, they are either described, as human or not human. Honestly doesn’t give us details about them, rather, it just says, “they are Middle Worlders, but they don’t look human.” I would have liked more description and to get more backstory about them. Most of the time I found the worldbuilding to be lacking and sometimes to be very confusing. Honestly, I feel like we got more worldbuilding for the food the characters ate rather than the actual world they live in.

The pacing in this book was also all over the place. The beginning was very slow, so it took me forever to get into the book. I found it to be very confusing while simultaneously being very boring. The book doesn’t begin to pick up until towards the middle, but even then, it’s still painstaking slow and still contains scenes that slow the plot down. It isn’t until about the last 100 pages, the book beginnings to pick up, and starts to go at a zooming pace. I would prefer for it to keep a faster pace throughout rather than having a super slow beginning and fly-by ending.

Overall, this book fell flat for me and ended up being a major disappointment. I had high hopes for this book, and it ended up not reaching most of them.

TW: Misogyny, child endangerment, human trafficking, abuse, rape (mention), bullying, grief, blood, violence, and victim’s guilt

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an ARC of The Wild Ones in exchange for an honest review!

Check out this review on my blog: https://inkingandthinking.wordpress.c...
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 18 books333 followers
April 20, 2021
Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Wild Ones in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to love this book with my whole being and while I did still love the core plot, themes, and a lot of the narration (particularly the Memories sections), I am either far too dumb for this book or the narration is really really disorienting. The Wild Ones uses a lot of really flowery, poetic narration frequently juxtaposed by (often childish) fourth wall breaks and humour that I can see working to create really unique character voices but to me, constantly shifting between the two was really disorienting. I also had a lot of trouble figuring out who's head we were in since the book shifts from Paheli to someone clearly outside of her (I'm assuming another one of the girls) in a way that I think is intentionally supposed to be vague to signify how connected all of The Wild Ones are, but it just really didn't work for me.

Sections here are absolutely stunning, but I was so consistently perplexed that I don't think I'd be able to reread it over and over again like I wish I could with books this poetic. I want to stress that I really did like it which is why I gave it a fairly good rating, but because of the parts I liked, the parts I didn't bothered me all the more.
Profile Image for Nicholas Perez.
371 reviews90 followers
Want to read
June 3, 2021
Update: 6/3/21 I reached out to the author on twitter because I wanted to know who was who on the front and back covers. She was kind enough to respond!

Paheli is the pink-haired girl
Valentina is the girl with the braid and yellow flower
Areum is the blue-haired girl
Talei is the girl with red hibiscus

BACK (I can't get in the image on GR, just go look it up)
Etsuko is the dark-brown-haired one at the far left
Ghufran is the one with purple hijab
Kamboja is the one with short hair
Sevda is the one with ash/grey -colored hair
And Daraja is the one with the head covering

Thanks, Nafiza!
Profile Image for Kalena W.
588 reviews240 followers
January 21, 2022
4/5 stars, this was beautifully written and really impactful, not to mention that gorgeous cover

One of the biggest things that I will remember about this book was how wonderfully written it was, it felt as if Rupi Kaur had written a full-length book and put a magic spin on it for fun. I love her writing as a poet and to find a book that felt like her writing was wonderful! This isn't just a magic story though, this is an echo of the voices of so many women of color being silenced for decades. This tells so many of the stories of ordinary women with different ethnic backgrounds, who experienced horrible things that they did not deserve.

I am not really sure what I expected going into this book, I was hooked by the cover and knew it was a story about women of color so I decided to read it. Before reading it I had never heard of it or read the synopsis, and this book was really satisfying. Despite the number of trigger warnings and the hard story that it weaves for the reader, it was wonderful and full of life. The plot was honestly slow going but in a really nice way, it let you feel like you were a part of 'The Wild Ones' and connect to their pain and happiness in a really interesting way. I wish it had just been a little faster, but I don't mind too much as I still really liked it.

The setting is beautiful but also complicated, the girls travel between the real world and the "Between" a place that only they can go. Because of the stars in their palms they are able to go here, and be safe, as long as the keeper of the between wills it (who they do not know). The Between has doors to all corners of the world and is basically a magic pathway. I wish we had spent a little more time here but honestly seeing them travel all around the world was magical too. I love exploring so much of the world in my books, and reading from extremely diverse places, so that was really lovely.

While Paheli is the main character and the one who started The Wild Ones it doesn't feel like this story has a particular main character. It switched between Paheli's individual point of view which still involved the girls and a collective perspective from all the girls in the Wild Ones. It was really unique as I haven't read books with this sort of perspective in a long time. All of the women were so wonderful and I really love them, however, I do feel like because of the nature of the story I wasn't really able to connect with any of them individually. They all brought something unique to the story though and had different pasts that were discussed a bit.

Overall, I am really happy I chose to pick this up. It was sad but heartwarming and the style of writing was unlike anything I have read in quite a while. This should definitely be tried for those who are fans of Rupi Kaur and enjoy their stories wonderfully magically and diverse.

[TW: child trafficking, rape (implied and mentioned), suicide (on-page), forced pregnancy, genital mutilation (mentioned), murder of a child, torture, drowning]
Profile Image for Sakina (aforestofbooks).
375 reviews125 followers
August 7, 2021
How do I write a review for a book that captured the pain, betrayal, and anger I feel on an everyday basis? How do I come up with words to express how much this book means to me? I love this book so much it hurts.

The writing style is breathtaking. I am in awe at Nafiza’s talent. I truly believe there is no one out there in the world who could have written this story as well as she did. The words, the imagery, the emotion…I could feel the anger and the pain through the page. It made me feel alive. It gave me hope. It put words to all the thoughts that have whirled around in my head for years. I love the mix of Paheli’s POV and the other Wild Ones. It didn’t bother me that we couldn’t tell who’s perspective the chapter was from. It fit with the story. These girls, their stories are so similar, yet so different. They are each their own individual, yet they’ve bonded because of the trauma and betrayal they’ve experienced. And I think having the book written like this was very unique, but also perfect for the story Nafiza was trying to tell.

Paheli’s POV was fun. That’s the best way I can describe it. And I think the reason I liked it so much was because her inner narrative fits so much with my own. It fits with her as a character too. We see how the trauma Paheli has gone through hasn’t disappeared completely. Trauma never completely does. You learn to move on, soften it a bit, squish it into a small ball and surround it with happier memories. But it never disappears completely. And we see that so well in her relationships with Taraana, Eulalie, and the other girls. Ngl I almost cried when , she just has trouble expressing her emotions because she’s constantly on alert for betrayal. When she is separated from the others, her first thought is “what if they realize they don’t need me/what if they don’t love me.” And even with Taraana…the relationship is kind of instalove, but also not. You guys know how picky I am when it comes to romance, but this was done so well. It didn’t feel rushed, and Paheli’s hesitancy and fears made complete sense with her past. I really appreciated how much time we got to spend with Paheli and Taraana as they get to know each other. I loved how they actually communicated (even if it took some pushing from Taraana lol), because that’s the one thing I find lacking in a lot of books with romance. The romance definitely didn’t overtake the plot and even when it was the centre of a scene, it didn’t make me cringe or feel awkward. I really liked the two of them together.

My favourite part of this book, besides for everything else I’ve mentioned, was seeing so many different cities and experiencing the culture and food. I read this book while on vacation in Italy, and I could actually imagine Paheli and her girls wandering the streets of Rome, wearing flowy dresses in the sweltering heat, and eating gelato. For a lot of us, I think this book can be a perfect escape from our current world and allow us to travel to other cities and countries in our minds, since it’s still not easy to travel right now.

Another thing I’ll mention…I love me a “weak, scared” male love interest. How rare is it to see this in books? The men are always brave and strong, nothing ever terrifies them or if it does they don’t show it. The women are always described as more emotional and scared and weak. But in this book we have a lovely switch in gender portrayal. The Wild Ones are strong, they are undefeatable. The very cry that is expected from a woman cowering in fear can be used in defence. And maybe it is the trauma and hard lives that have made them this way, but isn’t that the way of male characters too? Aren’t they also brave and rash and angry because of their past? So why can’t women be shaped by their past also? This book ajakskdkd is just so empowering. If you’re a woman or identify as a woman, this book will make you feel seen, it will give you hope and strength to get you through whatever you’re going through. It will make you angry, but in a good way.

The last lines of this book sum up everything so well.

”Embrace this anger. Let if fuel your everydays. Defy everyone who tells you that you can’t. Be wild.”

Also sharing this one because I love it so much:

”Some days we are so sad, we want to drown the world. Some days we are so angry, we want to set it on fire.”

Overall, 5/5 stars. I need to buy this book immediately.
Profile Image for Siavahda.
Author 2 books116 followers
March 25, 2021
I don’t like writing negative reviews. I tend not to; I mark a book as DNF or read and then just…keep silent about it. Maybe I put a sentence or two about it in my monthly wrap-up posts, but that’s all.

But I really, really hate this book.

And I hate that I hate it. I’ve been looking forward to this book breathlessly, ever since the publishing deal was announced. It’s magical queer girls of colour!!! With stars and magic diamonds and sparkly clothes! It’s everything I could ask for! When I was approved for an arc, I ran into the study to tell my husband the good news, I was so excited and ecstatic.

Today, I can’t decide whether I want to cry or scream.

There’s nothing wrong with the premise/concept, the plot, or the characters. I didn’t finish the book, but the issues I saw dealt with were not mishandled. It’s nothing like that.

It’s just that the writing is abominably bad.

This is confusing for a number of reasons, not least of which is that this is not Azad’s debut, and that book, The Candle and the Flame, had perfectly pleasant prose. I didn’t enjoy the book, but not because it was bad; it and I just weren’t a good fit.

Whereas The Wild Ones is just…so bad.

The first 50 pages are telling, telling, telling. Nothing is shown to the reader; it’s a never-ending lecture about the Wild Ones and the Between and non-humans and all the rest of it. One loooong info-dump. The writing is blunt and choppy; there are attempts at pretty description, but it’s cringingly clunky, with sentences like this

sweet, milky treats that taste a little like heaven if the place was a flavor.

An editor should have cut the last six words of that sentence and it would have been fine. Look

sweet, milky treats that taste a little like heaven.

Done. Much better!

The book is written in first-person; unfortunately, aside from brief excerpts from ‘the book of memories’ which are titled with a character’s name, half the time it’s not at all clear whose head we’re in. Sometimes it’s Paheli, but then in the next chapter someone else seems to be talking – because they’re referring to Paheli in third-person now – but there’s nothing to tell you who the narration has switched to. Whoever they are, they speak like very young, bratty children

I glare at Valentina and pretend I have all the answers. I am really good at pretending, in case you’re wondering.

A few lines later,

“We’ll find out more about this person later. All right?” stinky Valentina says, trying to make up for putting her foot in everyone’s mouth earlier.

‘Stinky Valentina’? What are you, five??? This from a character who has supposedly lived for over 70 years?

Read the rest at Every Book a Doorway!
Profile Image for Trisha (semi-hiatus).
243 reviews126 followers
August 6, 2021
Blog Review (Tour): https://trishadoeseverythingbutstudy2...

Thank you to the author, publisher, Turn the Page Tours and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book!

I really enjoyed reading this book, even though there were a few things I wasn’t completely onboard with.

Let’s start with things I loved. I absolutely loved the writing; it was a really good mix of whimsy and lemon ;) I really enjoyed making notes for this one, though I was always trying to tell myself, cut down the quotes, we’e not trying to commit copyright infringement....even the quotes in this post, though they seem quite a lot, are less than half of my original notes (which you can see in my status updates, I’ll link them with the quotes). I loved the relatability of the writing, and it really sucked me into the plot, even though by itself the plot isn’t much (we’ll get to that in a moment).

My biggest source for irritation in this was definitely the way I couldn’t make images of all of the characters in my head. Around halfway through, I realised I only really know what Paheli looks like, I have no idea what the other characters look like. Then I went down the spiral of looking for side thoughts that might relate to features, and found the complete cover jacket on twitter and tried to correlate each character to their image in the cover, and mostly failed. I’m still going to search for others, but just for anyone interested, I’ve included my notes for this endeavour at the end of this post! (later I ended up contacting the tour organiser, and they were very nice and shared Nafiza's recent tweet with me (linked below))

Another thing I didn’t completely enjoy was the way this ended. Without going into too many spoilers, I felt that the ending was a) pretty out of character for Taraana, and b) slightly hypocritical? Like yeah, I see the appeal of it, but I do wish there was a way to fix stuff without becoming the bad guys yourself. But, since the book focuses on not pulling any punches, I can live with the Wild Ones being more morally grey than typical characters.

I really loved the found family trope in this, it was, I think, the highlight of this book. I wish there were more POVs than Paheli’s and the slightly confusing general-consciousness-of-the-Wild-Ones POV. I also wish that there had either been lesser characters, or more time spent on every character, because of the 10-11 main characters in this, I can only remember say 5 as characters. The rest I just remember as ideas or names, they have no substance to them. Of the ones I do, Ligaya, Valentina, Areum, and Ghufran were my favourites.

I do wish there was lesser time spent on the romance; I went into this book not expecting a romance, and so when there was a side (or main, depending on where you look at it from) romance, I wasn’t really happy with it. Especially when because there was already so much going on, especially with the number of characters, we couldn’t really focus on the romance as much as it deserved to be focused on, resulting in a slightly instalove romance and no particular basis for it (in my opinion).

I did come to like it by the end, but definitely not as much as I should have. I wish the romance had either been cut out, or some of the Wild Ones. I would have been really happy with just the platonic relationships of the main cast.

The world building was amazing, I have never felt as much of a craving to travel and go to new places as I have in this pandemic, and so when this book took me to so many different corners of the world, including my own (or whereabouts) in Lucknow, it really fulfilled that craving! And the way the magical was superimposed upon the real world made it even better! I usually gravitate more towards alternate worlds for fantasy than I do towards magical realism, but this is one of the good magical realism ones out there.

On the whole, an amazing read in terms of escapism, but maybe not that much from a story and character point of view. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys magical realism, found family, a whole lot of fluff, diverse cast and settings, focus on struggles of women around the world, amazing writing, and would not mind plot and romance that doesn’t completely make sense but is enjoyable all the same.

So, these were my guesses for who's who on the cover, or at least my notes, I ended up getting 5 of 11 (if counting all, even those not on the cover) and 5 of 9 if counting those on cover. I was still not that sure about Daraja and Etsuko, but the other three I was sure of. The ones with a ✔️ and a ❌ are those in which I was partially right.

Image from Nafiza Azad's twitter here

Paheli-largest, pink hair ✔️
Areum: Blue hair- Seoul ✔️
Kamboja (1st from right)-Jakarta, short hair? ❌ ✔️
Ligaya- cebu phillipines first from left? second from right?(not on cover) ❌
Daraja -benin city (west africa) turban? rightmost? third from right? ✔️
Widad- lahore third from left? (not on cover) ❌
Talei -suva fiji dark skin probably ❌ ✔️
Sevda -marmaris turkey ❌
Ghufran -veil baghdad second from left ✔️
Etsuko -kyoto leftmost? ✔️
Valentina -from paris trans? lesbian? silver hair? dark skin rightmost? ❌ ✔️
Profile Image for Ashley.
781 reviews420 followers
Want to read
December 17, 2020
1) First of all... drooling over this cover.
2) Second of all... drooling over this blurb. You can never have too many queer witches is what I say.
3) This is SO giving me When We Were Magic, by Sarah Gailey, vibes! And thats the best compliment ever haha... I LOVED that book!

Profile Image for Andy.
2,360 reviews185 followers
October 18, 2021
This was incredible. The Wild Ones is not a lighthearted book like the cover might lead you to believe. It's full of fierce girls who have escaped dangerous and sometimes life threatening situations. It's about girls who have bound themselves together in a sisterhood that is their shield and their home. This tells the story of what girls can do given the agency and power they're constantly denied.

I love this book with my whole heart. This is one of only a handful of books I know that is set in the modern world but not set in the USA. Instead we journey through India, Korea, Japan Morocco, and many other countries in Asia and the Middle East. This book had a captivating sense of adventure and danger. I was constantly on the edge of my seat and couldn't wait to find out more.

Though "The Wild Ones" are a group of several girls we really only get to know Paheli and Valetina. Don't get me wrong, I loved these two! But I really would've loved to learn more about the other girls too. And then there's Taraana. My sweet cinnamon roll boy. I loved him so much I want to protect him always.

Also I get big demiromantic vibes from Paheli. I'm pretty sure at one point she mentions that she's rarely or never felt romantic attraction and I am just ALL here for aro rep. This is my headcanon and I will go down with it.

Rep: Indian female MC (aro-spec coded), French BIPOC trans female sapphic side character, Korean female side character, Indonesian female side character, Filipina female side character, West African female side character (wears a head scarf), Pakistani female side character, Fijian female side character, Turkish female side character, Muslim Iraqi female side character, Japanese female side character. Unsure who is queer but at least half are not attracted to men.

CWs: Abandonment, blood, confinement, death, emotional abuse, grief, homophobia, injury/injury detail, infidelity, kidnapping, lesbophobia, misogyny, murder, physical abuse, sexism, torture, trafficking, prostitution, violence. Moderate: child abuse, child death, pregnancy, mention of attempted abortion, rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, suicide by running into traffic, bullying.
Profile Image for Kate.
397 reviews242 followers
July 4, 2021
This book was so beautiful. Alternating between stream-of-consciousness and a plot-based narrative, The Wild Ones is the story of girls of color refusing to conform to the fate the world demands of them, and instead choosing to be their own people.

What I loved the most about this book is this: Communities of color tend to be more collectivist rather than individualist, and the Wild Ones - girls who are rescued by magic from atrocities like rape, human trafficking, child marriage, prostitution, and the like - reject the notion that their worth is inherently tied to what they can offer to their families in terms of money and other material wealth. And yet, they remain true to the idea of a community anyway by standing together and for each other - but in the way that standing together is meant to be. Healthy, happy, whole, and willing to listen.

I can't recommend this book enough. If you have a young WOC in your life, get this book for her. If you are a young WOC, pick this book up. If you're a WOC but no longer exactly a spring chicken, pick up this book, read it, rejoice in the fact that you're not alone.
Profile Image for rebecca | velvet opus.
154 reviews60 followers
Want to read
February 26, 2021
A feminist fantasy with a stunning cover that releases two days before I turn 30?? Happy birthday to me! 😍
Profile Image for Wren.
707 reviews34 followers
November 23, 2021

THIS BOOK!!!!!!! THIS BOOK!!!! Fantastic, heartbreaking, phenomenal!

This is the first fantasy book that I've read that deals with real world issues in such a prominent way. Please read trigger warnings before reading this, I didn't but I surprisingly didn't get triggered. This book is about women and girls that have been raped, sexually assaulted, physically and emotionally abused, and sold into slavery. It's about them finding a safe place with The Wild Ones and saving other girls and killing men that hurt women. It's fantastic!

I adore the premise of this, of girls fighting to save girls. I loved the diversity, we have mostly women of colour, girls wearing hijabs, a sapphic women. It's just stunning the way all these girls come together and support each other through really traumatic circumstances.

I didn't really care that much about the romance but it was very sweet. I love that The Wild Ones willingly adopted a young man, that felt like a moment of healing. The magic of the boy was really interesting and his connection to the portal worlds was interesting too.

I just love it all okay, it's amazing!
Profile Image for — nova.
441 reviews315 followers
Want to read
May 10, 2021
THE COVER !!!!! i need it
Profile Image for Haadiya.
147 reviews74 followers
August 6, 2021
TRIGGER/CONTENT WARNING(S): Sexual and physical violence, depicted discussions of depression and suicide

The Wild Ones focuses on the hardships that girls and women face in life, the strength they can find in others, and the importance of building a caring family in which they can feel supported. Azad goes into greater detail about how humans build relationships and the horrors and beauty that may be found inside them.

This novel puts the challenges that girls and women experience around the world in our culture front and center. It highlights how we can come together as a community to address the challenges that all women face. We get to observe how the survivors deal with the traumas they’ve had throughout their lives.

Paheli is an Indian figure who was sold by her mother in exchange for a favour in the book. After she fled, broken and injured, she ran upon Taraana, who gave her a box of magical stars before disappearing. Paheli collected other betrayed and abused females, and together with the magical stars, they helped those who had lost hope and saved them from pain.

The writing was an important component of the plot, with its melodic tone highlighting how much each Wild One had to go through before Paheli discovered them. The writing elicited both sniffles and smiles as it infused the plot with emotions.

For the first 20-25 percent of the book, the plot moved at a snail’s pace, which irked me. However, things increased up up after that, and things were rather exciting! The scenes were exciting and action-packed, but the magical descriptions were lacking. The middle-worlds are destroyed by the Wild Ones’ screams, yet those moments were limply depicted, and I believe they could have been done better.

An issue I had with The Wild Ones was that the chapters are recounted from two perspectives; one is Paheli’s, and the other is an unnamed Wild One, which perplexed me much. Only Paheli and Valentina seemed to have true personalities, and I had trouble differentiating characters and their voices.

I didn’t really get why there had to be SO MANY of Wild Ones, I feel like it would have worked with 4-7 of them which would have given them at least adequate page time instead of mentions here and there. It would have also allowed for character development and differentiation.

Although the idea appears to be intriguing, the premise did not live up to its full potential. The cover is gorgeous, and I adored the concept of a magical girl team that might represent many readers who feel underrepresented in the YA genre.

Recommended if you’re looking for a powerful feminist fantasy.

Check out my review and more on my blog: https://herbookishobsession.wordpress...
Profile Image for The Litt Librarian.
155 reviews30 followers
August 3, 2021
Check the full review over at The Litt Librarian! https://thelittlibrarian.wixsite.com/...

I tried to hold off on posting my review, but tours are demanding these days aren't they?


The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad is … different. I'm still trying to process all that I've read. It wasn't a hard read, but it wasn't easy either. We're introduced to 11 POVs throughout the fantasy. That's right! There are 11 POVs, all telling the same record. But at least it's a continuation with barely any interruption with side thoughts and missions. It took me a while, but how we're acquainted with each girl was essentially a page break of a journal entry hinting towards why they became a Wild One before diving back into the story.

With the premise of a "Wild One," I would at least thought we would have seen more tragic stories or at least the group trying to save other girls who were at their wit's end. Instead, we go on an Anthony Bourdain world food tour with them while trying to protect the boy who inadvertently gave them this newfound power to be a Wild One. It's not what I expected from the synopsis.

Once we got to the heart of the story, it made me realize how much fluff I had to trudge through to get here. It's basically a girl and a boy who aren't good with expressing emotions due to trauma, slowly falling for each other as they try to save their world and themselves from doom.

The story's execution didn't sit well with me, and there were way too many POVs and narrative switching. I understand the feminism message Azad placed all over the book about protecting women and their rights, but it was all too much. If we could take out all the flowery notes, the poetry, and the coterie of women, we might have had a decent story.
Profile Image for Avery (readbyfin).
51 reviews309 followers
May 1, 2022
[TWs: Child trafficking, Rape- implied, Suicide, Forced pregnancy, Genital mutilation- mentioned, Murder of a child, Torture- mentioned, Drowning]

I haven't written a review in a while so I may be a bit rusty but I NEED to review this book because it was hauntingly beautiful and full of social commentary I haven't seen discussed in YA literature.

The Wild Ones follows a group of teenage girls who have suffered immense trauma but were brought together by their leader, Paheli, and endowed with special powers. The Wild Ones occupy the Between, a hallway of pure magic and mystery. They have to band together to save the life of the boy who saved them all in this thrilling feminist fantasy.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the point of view. It switches between a first-person from Paheli and a first-person collective POV from all the Wild Ones. It is a very unique formatting choice that enhanced the bond between the Wild Ones, conveying how close their sisterhood is. I loved seeing a group of strong women supporting each other, especially in the young adult genre. The writing style of this book was whimsical- lush and light but containing moving social commentary. Another of my favorite parts is the Book Of Memories. Throughout the novel, there are pages from the Book Of Memories, in which all the Wild Ones have written, that reveal little bits about girls in the group. Many of them are beautiful and moving poems or musings of a Wild One. I looked forward to reading them every time- the hints of information furthered my connection with each girl. Overall, I love this book. It discusses so many impactful concepts that are so important for young female readers.
Profile Image for rain.
607 reviews345 followers
September 24, 2021
i have mixed feelings about this one. the premise is beautiful, but i found the execution a bit lacking. the story could have been more fleshed out, especially in the last few chapters. i expected more from the main villain but his entire character just fell flat for me. eventually, i found the conclusion anticlimactic and unsatisfying because of this. there's also the case of the main romance. it had potential, but i hoped for more meaningful interactions and development.

however, i did find the writing beautiful. i think it translated beautifully on audio, giving it more impact and dimension. this book has its flaws, but ultimately, i loved how it brought a powerful message of empowerment and healing that im sure will resonate with a lot of readers. i, for one, felt a little less alone when i read this book. i hope you feel the same way when you read this too.
Profile Image for Nico.
102 reviews1 follower
May 27, 2021
Empowering, daring, caring. This book is a little triggering and quite touching. To give you a taste, the ending is powerful and don't worry this isn't a spoiler.

"Aren't you angry, sister? At being treated the we are? At having to pick up the pieces of what remains after the world is through with us? At being silenced and abused? At being denied our dignity, our bodies, our voices, and our right to justice? Aren't you angry?
Embrace this anger. Let it fuel your every days. Defy everyone who tells you that you can't.
Be wild."
Profile Image for Sam (she_who_reads_).
621 reviews15 followers
January 13, 2022
I think I’ve already read my favourite book of 2022!!
This is everything I look for in a book- lyrical writing, beautiful layered characters, a fiercely feminist vibe, and full of magic. Could not recommend highly enough!!
(I would look at trigger warnings first, if you need them though)
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