Wildlife by Fiona Wood

I read Six Impossible Things years ago and I remember enjoying it but unfortunately, I couldn’t remember details of the story now. I would have loved to reread it prior to reading Wildlife but my copy is in Manila, I’m not even sure which friend has it at the moment. I have been looking forward to Wildlife ever since it first came out and I saw Aussie bloggers raving about it. I was able to get a copy last year when a friend from Australia passed by Singapore on his way to Manila. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read it!

Wildlife in the wild

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

Note to self: do not start reading books late at night if you have a feeling they’re going to be good. I spent a good chunk of one weeknight reading Wildlife and stayed up until 2:30am to finish it. Yes, I needed coffee to survive work the next day. Narrated from the points of view of two characters, Lou and Sibylla, this Aussie YA novel is an engaging read. My heart went out to Lou because of her loss and the grief that she’s still coming to terms with. It’s understandable how closed off she is at the start of the novel. Sibylla is a likeable character, very low-key and cares deeply for her friends. We didn’t get to see his POV but another character I really liked was genius and quirky Michael, who is also very loyal to his friends. I also found the setting refreshingly different, high school students spending a term out in the bush. It’s like a combination of boarding school and camp, away from the city and family homes. I can imagine how difficult it would be for a teenager to adjust to that kind of set-up. Constantly surrounded by others and absolutely no privacy. I find that living on such close quarters like that can either strengthen or destroy relationships. People can either become very comfortable or very annoyed with each other’s quirks. It was interesting to see how the dynamics between the characters changed as the book progressed.

I have to be honest, there was a point in the book when I got frustrated with Sibylla and how passive she is with her relationship and friendship. I was all, “C’mon girl, learn to push back a little.” But it’s not like she’s not aware of the situation she finds herself in because she definitely is. She knows that the balance is tilted in Holly’s favor when it comes to their friendship and she’s also aware of the nuances of dating a popular guy like Ben. It then occurred to me that Sibylla is still in the process of getting to know herself, she hasn’t fully settled into her own skin and as a result, she’s also not sure of how to react to and interact with those around her. It’s a very truthful and realistic portrayal of teenage life. Looking back on my own experiences, I have to admit that not all of the relationships and friendships that I’ve had were healthy or good for me but that’s just how life is. We all make mistakes and that’s how we learn and become better people. So even though I was initially annoyed by some situations, in hindsight, I loved the accurate descriptions of relationships (both romantic and platonic) in Wildlife. It’s all messy and complicated and confusing and feels very real. This is one of those books that I would gladly give to my teenage self because I know I will be able to relate to it. Wildlife reminded me of how brilliant Aussie YA is and I’m so glad I still have a couple of Aussie YA titles in my TBR pile. One of my favorite reads for this year, I recommend Wildlife to fans of realistic young adult fiction.

Other reviews:
Inkcrush
Chasing Words

Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. I keep seeing US book bloggers tweet about having spice pumpkin lattes so it must be autumn over there. Wish that drink was available here because I wouldn’t mind giving it a try. Like I said before, there really aren’t any seasons here in Singapore so when I say “my fall TBR list”, I’m referring to American fall months. So I did a lousy job with my summer TBR list, I only read 2 out of 10 books (and currently in the middle of the 3rd one). I didn’t even get to half of them! But then I don’t feel too bad about that because I usually just go for what I feel like reading at the moment. I’m still looking forward to reading the books in my summer TBR pile but I also wanted to talk about some titles that I want to read in the coming months.

First off, I have a friend who will be passing by Singapore from Australia at the end of the month so I ordered three Aussie YA books (from Booktopia, thanks to Maggie for recommending the site) that I’ve been wanting to read:

Girl DefectiveWildlifeAlaska

Girl Defective by Simmone Howell – I haven’t read anything by this author and I think this one would be great to start with as I’ve seen rave reviews from Aussie bloggers.

Wildlife by Fiona Wood – I enjoyed reading Six Impossible Things and I have a feeling Wildlife will be even better because I heard that it has an older feel to it.

Alaska by Sue Saliba – I’ve heard that the writing is lovely in this one and I just couldn’t resist that pretty cover.

Next are several fall releases that I’m looking for:

Friday Brown UKFangirlWhere the Stars Still ShineJust One YearThe Dream ThievesUntoldShadows

Friday Brown / Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield – Continuing with the Aussie YA theme, I can’t wait to read Friday Brown because All I Ever Wanted was just lovely. I think it’s awesome that this title is readily available now that it has US and UK editions.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller – I heard that this even better than Trish Doller’s debut novel, Something Like Normal. I’m excited to find out if that’s true!

Just One Year by Gayle Forman – Ahhh, I really can’t wait to read this companion novel to Just One Day! I want to know what happens to Allyson and Willem after the end of the first book.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Having enjoyed Attachments, I have a feeling I will like Rainbow Rowell’s YA novels too.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – Looking forward to learning more about the boys and Blue. So many friends have raved about this sequel, I hope I end up loving it as well.

Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan – I’ve been wanting to read this since I finished Unspoken last year. How can I not when it ended the way it did?

Shadows by Robin McKinley – It’s a Robin McKinley novel! Of course, I want to read it.

So many good titles are being released this fall. I noticed that all of the titles in this list are YA. If I do get to read all of these, I’ll probably mix them up with some adult reads. Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to follow this list! What about the rest of you, what books are in your priority list for the coming months? Are you excited to read any of the titles in my list?

Want Books: Wildlife

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

I really enjoyed reading Fiona Wood’s debut novel Six Impossible Things back in 2011. Her second book Wildlife has been released recently and I’m really curious about it. It has a blurb from one of my favorite authors, Melina Marchetta: “A beautifully crafted novel with achingly real characters that I couldn’t get out of my head.” I’ve also seen reviews from Aussie book bloggers – Nomes, Mandee and Reynje – and they all made me want to read the book more. There are times when Aussie books pop up in bookstores here in Singapore so I asked around for Wildlife when I dropped by two bookstores yesterday but unfortunately, it’s not available over here.

WildlifeHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

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

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

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

I was thinking of giving in and trying Fishpond for the first time. I wanted to get Wildlife and Girl Defective by Simmone Howell but the latter is out of stock. I’ll probably wait for that to become available before ordering. How about you, what book is at the tip of your wishlist? Hope you’re all having a good weekend so far.