This book has often been compared to the Harry Potter series, if only for the presence of magical beings. Protagonist Linus Baker is a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. It sounds like an interesting job, but in reality it is filled with stacks of paperwork and soul-sucking hours spent in a cramped office space with very specific rules and regulations. The highlight of Linus's job is his trips to orphanages where he gets a chance to interview the children and inspect the facility for fitness. However, he soon learns that many children are afraid of case workers from the Department, with good reason. It is only when Linus is assigned to observe an orphanage located on a secluded island outside a small town that he begins to understand the consequences of his job and his visits to orphanages.
Wilder Girls takes the essence of most YA sci-fi/dystopian novels and tightens the net around them. What's left is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean called Raxter Island. It's a school for girls that was doing relatively well on its own. Until the Tox hit. It affected each girl differently. Hetty's eye began bleeding, and she had to sew it shut. Byatt's spine warped and is now visible on her back, and Reese's hand has become a hardened silver. The Tox affected the adults differently, and most of them died shortly after it began. The younger girls weren't that affected until they hit puberty and the Tox spiked in them.
I first fell in love with Holly Black when I was much younger and she was co-writing the Spiderwick Chronicles with Tony DiTerlizzi. The books were small, sleek hardbacks illustrated by DiTerlizzi, and I adored them. The books and the accompanying Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You was the seed of my obsession with all things faery and folk. One of the greatest things about Holly Black is that, for the most part, she stays in that category of fae writing, but we don't get the same world and characters recycled over and over again. The Darkest Part of the Forest, for example, is far different from the Spiderwick Chronicles, even though both deal with the fantastical realm of faeries.