Cover Image: The Wild Ones

The Wild Ones

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Turn The Page Tours and author Nafiza Azad for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

To tell you the truth, The Wild Ones didn’t grab my attention right away. My initial reactions were the following:

- The initial pacing was a little slow for my liking.
- I am constantly trying to figure out who the other narrator was besides Paheli.
- I am also constantly trying to understand how magic works in this world. How the Between and its inhabitants exists without being seen (unless they want to be seen). How the Between also acts as a portal to different places in the world.

It took me a while to get in to the story, but once the the plot and pace started going a little faster, everything seemed a lot better (in my opinion).

Although I didn’t enjoy the writing style in particular, I did appreciate the focus on the girls’ pain and suffering and how they were able to rise through and push through. How they used their experiences to protect those who were in the same situations as they were.

Like I said, it wasn’t necessary my style of read, but I believe there will be readers out there who would throughly enjoy The Wild Ones.

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The Wild Ones is a beautifully written book! I truly enjoyed reading this book. The story of women empowerment and helping others is what we need for our next generations.

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A twist on the classic "boy saves girl" trope, "The Wild Ones" follows Paheli, who is saved by a mysterious boy when he gives her access to the Between, granting her magic. Paheli begins to rescue other girls like her, saving them and giving them magic. Soon, they learn that the boy who started this journey is in trouble and needs the girls to save him now.

The book really hits hard with the struggles that girls and women face and how they are able to recover in the face of such adversity. I love that powerful message.

However, the sheer number of characters in this book can be so overwhelming. I think there are 10 girls that make up the Wild Ones, and the narration is not always clear as to which character is speaking. Some of the writing was also a little tough to read, and felt like it might need some additional editing. With this being an ARC, I understand that that might happen, but it did make it difficult to read at times.

I will purchase for my library as I think some students will enjoy reading it.

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SLOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW BURRRRRRRNNNNNNNNNNNNNN. 11 points of views. QUEER. Found Family. Feminist. What else do I need to say?!

If you love the found family troupe with a fantasy novel with each chapter being a different point of view this is the novel to read. The cover is stunning, the plot is fantastic, and I can't say much without spoiling the entire thing. just go read this book. NOW NOW NOW!!! 5 stars. 5 stars. and 5 stars.

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The cover for The Wild Ones is incredible. I enjoyed reading this book although it took me a while to become acquainted with the characters since every chapter would switch points of views and it was not always clear who the narrator was. I enjoyed seeing the sisterhood between the magical girls and how each had an opinion as to how to best save each other and the world they are a part of. I also enjoyed how the novel imbedded the issues that women and girls face in society. It was tough to read at times because of the circumstances presented especially with the main character Paheli but it was great to see her take a leadership role and do everything in her power to not allow her past to affect her strength in the present.

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•Sisterhood, found family, feminist message, characters take charge of their own fates.
-Moments of humor, empowerment, representation, and vivid description.
-Some interesting non-human characters that could be further developed in future works and works building.
-Several quotable passages.

Areas of improvement:
•Intensity doesn’t build until 77% in.
•11 POV shifts!
•Multiple settings, both real and fictional, adds to the confusion.
•Love interest with character inconsistencies.
•More food than necessary without driving the plot.
•World building needs work.

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when i originally heard about a book featuring an all-girl group of POC and queer characters, i was so excited to get my hands on a copy! although i loved the concept of the story, the execution could have been better. in terms of the writing style, there were too many perspectives and the only voices that i could really distinguish were paheli's and valentina's. the other girls' voices all blended together and it was hard to pick out which chapter was whose. in my opinion, it would've just been better to just completely take them out.

i also wish that the magic system was explained a little further in detail. the author did a fairly decent job of explaining the basics; however, occasionally, they would mention some niche detail that was important to the plot, but wasn't described enough earlier in the book.

this being said, i did enjoy the friendship between the girls and the romance!!!! they're all super close and i'm always a sucker for the found family trope.

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THE WILD ONES is about Paheli and her band of magical girls who call themselves “the wild ones” and exist in two worlds: this world and the Between. When Taraana, the boy who gave them their magic/powers is in danger, the wild ones must defeat dark forces and save him, or risk losing their powers as well.

I don’t want to give away much because that would be wading into spoiler territory so here are 5 facts about THE WILD ONES that made me love it.

1. Feminist fantasy. Yes, feminist fantasy done right. How to not love?

2. Most of the book is written in plural present tense, sporadically interspersed with first person singular present tense from each girl’s pov. But the “we” voice? Terrific. You don’t need to know which girl is speaking, because the wild ones are everygirl. Everygirl has unfortunately, to some degree, faced what the wild ones have gone through. The wild ones echo everygirl’s voice.

3. This isn’t exactly a spoiler (I hope) but one of my absolute favorite things was the girls’ special power. Their greatest power lies in their screams. I love how the author subverts the idea of the scream being associated with fear and weakness and turns it to a power source.

4. The books takes place across 13 cities that you don’t see represented in YA. I’m not gonna tell you which ones. But discovering which city the girls were going to be in next kept me excited.

5. Queer and hetero romances. There’s both queer and hetero romances, although the romances don’t take centre stage. At heart, the book is about sisterhood.

Bonus! Soft boys. Yes to more soft boys as romantic love interests please. Boys who cry. Boys who aren’t afraid to express feelings traditionally associated with emasculation. We need more of them. We especially need more of them in YA.

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The Wild Ones is just beautiful inside and out. I knew from my first look at the cover that this was going to be a book I loved. From the heartbreaking beginning to the satisfying conclusion, this book held my undivided attention. Azad’s unique prose coupled with the ‘found family’ theme definitely weighed heavy on heart. None of our main characters has had an easy life before becoming one of ‘The Wild Ones’ and we are slowly introduced to each of them with excerpts from their ‘Book of Memories’. These memory excerpts allowed for a gentle break from the journey the girls are on. The story itself was awe-inspiring and fast paced. I couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter of this book. The story read like an old fairytale and was every bit as exciting. The side characters were well-described and interesting and the settings allowed you to travel the world without leaving your bedroom. Azad’s emphasis on food in each of the locations was such a nice touch and honestly made my mouth water as well.

Our OG ‘Wild One’, Paheli, was my favorite character in the book. She is the first MC that we meet and her story starts this rollercoaster of emotion that doesn’t end until the conclusion of this story. We see Paheli experience pain, hope, determination, and fear along with her fellow sisters. It made me want a happy ending for them all so much. Their experiences and their powers couldn’t have been written any better. I wish there was more to these girls’ story, but I am so extremely happy to have read this nonetheless.

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Dnf. I want to love fantasy. I especially want to love feminist fantasy!! Unfortunately, I think it’s time to admit this just isn’t my genre. It’s not the book, it’s me. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the free ebook. I also bought the audiobook.

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My Thoughts:
This fantasy, just released this month, is more than a girl power YA fantasy book. This is a feminist roar. These characters, including the boy with stars in his eyes, come together in brokenness and betrayal, apoplectic fury. But still they are trying to be strong for each other. They are eager to be kind. They are hungry for love. Magic, international travel, chase, corruption, power, food. This book for older teens has it all. It is about resilience and power. It is about love, is love, is love.

In the end, there is no happy ending, per se, and that is what makes this story so memorable.

From the end:

Who knows what the future holds? What we have is our anger and each other. Aren't you angry, sisters? At being treated the way 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 everydays. Defy everyone who tells you that you can't. Be wild.

From the Publisher:

We are the Wild Ones, and we will not be silenced.

We are girls who have tasted the worst this world can offer. Our story begins with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother, sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escaped, she ran headlong into Taraana—a boy with stars in his eyes, a boy as battered as she was. He tossed Paheli a box of stars before disappearing. With the stars, Paheli gained access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like us, and we use our magic to travel the world, helping to save other girls from our pain, our scars.

When Taraana reappears, he asks for our help. Dangerous magical forces are chasing him, and they will destroy him to get his powers. We will do everything to save him—if we can. For if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And a fate that we refuse to accept. Ever again.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to review this book, in exchange for an honest review.

This book in a word is magical. The group of women the book is named for “The Wild Ones” are women who have been beaten, broken, used, and thrown away, yet they have reclaimed their power when they accepted the star from the keeper of the Between. The Between is the magical chamber that magic users can travel through to get from city to city around the world. In the story, they are the protectors of magic, the keeper of the Between and all the girls and children that humans and not-humans have mistreated and abused. Their greatest power is their scream which overpowers not-humans with magic. This is a love story in multiple ways, a love story of the Keeper and one of the Wild Ones, but also a love story of finding and loving oneself and the power that comes from claiming yourself as powerful. This book winds together multiple cultures and peoples into one magical world where we are all connected and the actions taken by others have repercussions for all. “The Wild Ones” is a ballad to the ones who even after being mistreated and thrown away have reclaimed their own power and now use it to protect our world. A powerful story of how women can reclaim themselves even after tragedy to become a powerful force of good in the world.

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''The Wild Ones reiterates the fact that feminism isn’t a dirty word. It also tells a story of hope, healing, and love. Not just romantic love but platonic love.''
- Nafiza Azad, Turn the Page Tours Author Interview

Okay before I say anything, I just have to talk about the book cover, my gosh is it stunning. It’s definitely what drew me to the book in the first place, and the book itself did not disappoint. The Wild Ones is a story about pain and suffering, about overcoming that suffering, about women loving themselves and women loving each other. There’s a certain kind of comfort I found in the atmosphere of this story. These women, despite all they’ve been through, shine so brightly and use their light to help other girls that have suffered just like them. If you’ve read the list of trigger warnings above, you’d know that this book is definitely not all sunshine and rainbows. But despite that, Azad was determined to make this book radiate joy and happiness in any way she could, and it absolutely worked.

This story was undeniably about women, if you didn’t get that from reading the synopsis then you certainly got it from reading Azad’s writing in this book. As I said, this book is primarily about the pain and suffering men have caused women or The Wild Ones. What I thought was so fantastic was how cleverly Azad portrayed that pain. Almost every man I came across while reading this story was portrayed in a bad light, doing terrible and unspeakable things, emphasising the suffering women experience everyday: a woman almost being sexually assaulted in an alley, a little girl being told by her father she’s a waste of resources and education, a man staring at The Wild Ones (women) with dangerous eyes, as if they were his prey. Even the antagonist of the book was a man trying to take away the only happiness that made The Wild Ones (women) happy. Azad made sure that the point came across in bold letters: men in this story are not to be celebrated.

''The night sky is enthralled by the pale luminescence of a half-full moon.''
- Paheli
My goodness does Azad have a way with words. She effectively manipulated words into beautiful lyricism to create such dazzling and enchanting imagery. If I could describe this book in one word, that word would be ‘whimsical.’ From the cover to the imagery, the colours created in this book came alive in my mind, giving me a sense of contentment every time I came back to read it.

Speaking more on the imagery (because I’m entirely obsessed), I can’t get over how Azad described Taraana’s character. I honestly just want to take a deep dive and swim through the author’s brain and see if I can find out how in the world she came up with this character and his beautiful eyes. The picture in my mind of the boy with stars in his eyes was something I found so unbelievably breath-taking. I could imagine the wonderful contrast between his dark skin and bright eyes and how that made his being all the more precious and mesmerising. Paheli described him as having ‘’a five-pointed star in the pupil of each eye,’’ and his skin glowing ‘’gold like he was made of stardust.’’ I mean, what? Such a striking visual.

While I loved this book to bits, there is a reason why I only gave it 4 1/2 stars instead of a full 5. The first thing I noticed was that there was a lot of telling instead of showing which I really don’t like to see in a book, but I could look past it because of all the effort Azad put into her imagery and descriptions. The book also felt a bit repetitive at times. For example, around the beginning of the book the narrator mentioned something to do with how their magic works, that humans couldn’t see middle worlders, and I understood that. But then this fact was mentioned multiple times again throughout the rest of the book, which gave the story a bit of a monotonous tone. The story also got a bit confusing because it was split into two: the present (main) story, and snippets from each of the girls’ pasts. These snippets served to tell the reader how each girl suffered and the pain they went through. It would have been a clever idea, except to me it was a tad bit verbose, uhh, ‘over-lyrical?’ Each snippet read like a poem which was beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t actually understand what was going on or what had happened to them, which didn’t help in the character development department. Also, the final battle that was built up was admittedly a bit of an anti-climax, it happened so quickly and so easily. Which I can understand, since Azad seemed to be prioritising the message of the book rather than the actual plot, which is okay. This can also be seen in the fact that our main narrator was someone unknown. We never found out who was actually speaking to us readers, which threw me off slightly, but I guess Azad wanted to leave that up to the readers, which seems kinda beautiful in a way, because now I have my own interpretations of the story!

Despite my few grievances with this story, I can’t help but love it, love the writing, love the imagery, love the message. It’s books like these that make me think to myself, I fucking love reading.

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This high-concept feminist fantasy just didn't quite gel. The near-immortal group of girls from around the world, The Wild Ones, have escaped horrific abuse, and now live outside normal parameters, traveling through a mystical in between space that allows them to skip across the world in minutes. Azad's poetic style bogs down the writing, and many lengthy descriptions are too vague to engage readers' imaginations. The plot meanders through elaborately detailed descriptions of food, clothing, and cultures in a voyeuristic world tour, punctuated by horrifying stories of emotional and sexual abuse. This book did not find the balance it needed, and I wish it had chosen fewer characters to develop more.

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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 centre. 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-worlders 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.

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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.

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3.5 stars.

I really enjoyed the feminist lessons of this novel -- girls, don't be afraid to be angry, to be wild, to scream! -- but oh my goodness, did I want to take a red pencil to the fantasy aspects and just tighten everything up so it all fit into its own internal logic!

Centuries ago, young Paheli was sold by her mother to a rich man who raped her. Running away from her horrible violation, she crossed paths with a beaten boy who had stars in his eyes, who threw her a box of jewels before running away. She pressed a jewel to her hand and it sank in, allowing her to open doors to the Beyond, a sort of magical passageway bordering the human realm, where fantastical creatures known as Middle Worlders could traverse between cities without worrying about things like distance and time. As the decades pass, Paheli gathers a group of teenage girls much like herself, all of whom have been betrayed by their parents and abused. To the Middle World they are known as The Wild Ones, a roving pack of girls whose screams can short circuit the brains of Middle Worlders and humans alike.

When they find out that the boy who first gave Paheli, and by extension the rest of them, abilities is in desperate need of their help, they barely hesitate to come to his aid. Tho Paheli has been searching for him for years -- if not for an explanation, then at the very least to thank him for his mysterious, life-changing gift -- Taraana has proven elusive. Now they discover why: he's been held prisoner by the Keeper of the Waterways of Uttar Pradesh, one of the most powerful magic-wielders of their time, who has been torturing the younger man in order to farm his tears for their undiluted magic. Once, long ago, Taraana managed to flee with the box collecting his crystallized sorrow, and gave them to a strange girl for safekeeping before being captured again. He's escaped once more, and hopes the girls can help him figure out a way to stay free.

The Wild Ones close ranks around him like he's one of their own, even as romantic feelings begin to grow between him and Paheli. Soon, their little pack is crisscrossing the world in their search for answers, finding allies but also unexpected threats. Will the girls be able to save Taraana, themselves and perhaps something even greater than all of them combined?

I think if I'd read this as a teenager I would have loved this empowering fantasy novel unequivocally. As an adult, while I still very much enjoyed the frankness and femininity and fierce criticism of both sexism and patriarchy, I wanted far more solid world-building. While I can forgive the intentional vagueness of the Book Of Memories bits (tho sometimes they were so vague as to make me wonder what the point of them was. The worst entries made the girls sound emo instead of abused,) I had a hard time shaking the feeling that the fantasy world was only incidental window dressing for the feminism. And that's fine! Nafiza Azad's feminism is inclusive (fuck you, terfs) and eloquent; it's hard not to be moved by the beauty and heart and raw emotion of her words. But that only made the partially-baked fantasy elements feel less carefully crafted in comparison, which was disappointing.

I was also disappointed in the potentially romance-ending conflict between Paheli and Taraana. While I'd enjoyed their banter and awkward honesty up till then, I found myself deeply irritated by Taraana's passive-aggressive response to Paheli's separating herself from the pack, putting herself in danger in order to safeguard the rest of them. I mean, I thought she was being ridiculous too, but I did not appreciate his immediate coldness, followed by his threat to leave if she didn't capitulate to his demands. It's like, "Bitch, she's trying to protect YOU!" I understand that they're teenagers who've never had a relationship before, but if I'm supposed to accept that his tears open magical pathways between cities, I think I can accept that he'd behave with a little more emotional maturity and a lot less manipulative withholding than he did here.

But that's all me speaking as a grown up with years of experiencing bad behavior (most often at a remove, thank goodness!) As an adult, tho, I definitely appreciated the rest of it, with a special shoutout to the choice to float between first person singular and plural narratives, which added to the magic of the tale. This is a great book to feed the young fantasy enthusiast in your life who needs more feminism and empowerment in theirs.

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad was published August 3 2021 by Margaret K McElderry Books and is available from all good booksellers, including <a href="">Bookshop!</a>

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The stunning cover and the sheer feministic ideals radiating from this book will definitely pull you in. I really wanted to love this book but it is one of those examples of where the idea and concept has a lot of potential and uniqueness however the execution is a tad bit disappointing.

One of the biggest drawbacks was that the story and the world were too big to be properly conveyed in just 352 pages with multiple povs (some of them unclear). The writing style was fairly easy to follow and I will definitely be checking out more books by the author in the future.

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The Wild Ones is a group of women who have all had traumatic pasts in some way, but were offered a way out with a magical star. These stars give the women powers to move in the Between, a hallway of sorts that allows them access to the entire world in way less time. As they learn to cope with their trauma, they stand up for themselves and other women in need. When Taraana, the boy who gave Paheli the box of stars, finds himself in trouble, the group of women stick by his side to help him.

This book gets all the props for representation and conveying important messages of healing/grieving from trauma and standing up for yourself and others. But as a novel, there were some aspects that fell flat for me. The group consists of eleven women, but I found only one or two stood out as individuals. The lead character, Paheli is more developed than the others, but the minor characters in the squad blurred together for me. I wish there were either fewer of them so each one could stand out more on their own, or more time spent on the characterization of the remaining members. Taraana's character also wasn't portrayed in the way I think he was supposed to be. When he first meets the group, he acts more childlike than anything, and Paheli calls him "boy" frequently, so I thought he was a young kid, maybe age 8 or 10? I'm not sure if he's supposed to be since in later scenes, he seems to be portrayed as older.

The hardest part for me to get past with this book was the narrative voice. There are three distinct ones here -- the Book of Memories, which is a compilation of the stories of the girls' pasts told in a more poetic style; Paheli's narrative voice; and an unknown third person that breaks the fourth wall often as if telling the story to the reader. The last voice to me made most of the world building too explanatory and obvious. In some cases, the narrator even explains why certain plot points are ironic. It read more like a middle grade novel for me. The info dumping (especially the seemingly pointless descriptions of food and places) was dull for me to read as it didn't contribute to the plot.

I did, however, enjoy how the book ended. Taraana's plot line and the larger conflict was great. It just took awhile to get to that point. I think younger readers will enjoy this one, probably eighth grade. It has a great message about resilience and perseverance with which many young readers will resonate.

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"We have the temerity to be not just women, but women of color. Women with melanin in our skins and voices in our throats. Voices that will not be vanquished. Not now, not ever. We will not be silenced."

The story follows Paheli, an Indian character who was sold by her mother in exchange for a favor. After she ran away, broken and hurt, she bumped into Taraana, who tossed her a box of magic stars before vanishing. Paheli then gathered girls like her who were betrayed and abused, and together with the magic stars they help others who have lost hope and save them from misery.
Azad painted this story in a rich, whimsical writing style that left me starry-eyed (haha pun haha). The writing made up a huge part of the story, with it’s lilting style showcasing how much each Wild One went through before Paheli found them. The writing fills the plot with emotions, which made me sniffle and smile.
The plot was pretty slow for the first 20-25% of the book which had me a little irritated. After that it picked up pace though, and things were quite exciting after that! The scenes were action-packed and thrilling, but sadly the magic descriptions weren’t up to par. We just get told that the Wild Ones’ screams destroy the middle-worlders but the those scenes were limply described and I feel they could have been better done.
The world building seems quite complex but also kind of vague at first, with the Between getting most of the attention. However, it all unfurls nicely and we get to know even small things about it’s working.
However, the most important aspect of this book is the story itself. It tells us that no one is bound to the fate that the world asks them. It tells us that your suffering does not define you and you always have it in you to rise above the pain.
The Wild Ones look out for each other always and have a very close bond!! They are everything you would ask from the found family trope: banter, teasing and fierce protectiveness of each other!!
And not to forget, they love food. A lot. Everywhere they go, no matter how important the task at hand is, they always eat first and Paheli is the true leader in this matter. If I had to use one word to describe Paheli, it’d be MANGO 🥭 seriously, the girl’s first love in all realms are mangoes and I honestly love how obsessed she was with everything mango.

"Embrace this anger. Let it fuel your everydays. Defy everyone who tells you you can’t. Be wild."

One issue I had with The Wild Ones was this: the chapters are told in two perspectives; one is of Paheli, the other is another Wild One who is not specified, which confused me so much. I had a hard time distinguishing characters and their voices, and only Paheli and Valentina seemed to have real personalities.
ALSO 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 allowed some character growth too, and made them distinguishable.
However, my biggest issue lies in the climax, which was a bit of a let-down. There was a lot of build up to the final fight and honestly, I was expecting more from it. It got over so quickly and left me feeling underwhelmed.

Overall: Beautiful prose, but the characters or plot did not work out for me. Would recommend if you want a feminist fantasy!

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