A review by nytephoenyx
The Wild Ones, by Nafiza Azad

emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


The amount you enjoy The Wild Ones will be directly correlated to the amount you enjoy poetry and flowery language. Azad’s writing reminded me of Nikita Gill and Rupi Kaur. As such, this book was very much not my cup of tea, but it’s not a bad book! Just not a fit for my tastes.

The make up of The Wild Ones is wonderful. It’s the story of a group of girls who come from traumatic, sorrowful backgrounds. They became part of the middle world when Paheli gifts them the stars they press into their palms, a gift given to her so long ago. The girls stay until they are ready to move on. The journey they take as a Wild One feels like a metaphor for processing trauma. So much of this book feels like a series of metaphors, and it makes you think, reread, reconsider.

The Wild Ones are Black girls, brown girls. They are a sisterhood of strength and recklessness and fearlessness. They rescue other girls who are in the same pain they were (are) in. When their creator, the Keeper of the Between, seeks them out, they protect him too. It’s altogether an interesting book, and I DO recommend it to the right reader. It’s extremely stylised, so it requires the right reader to appreciate it fully, but I believe to the right reader, this will be an amazing five star novel. I liked the diversity, I liked the world, but the pace and writing style lost me.

Because of the linguistic choices that Azad made in telling this story, I found the pacing lagged and my attention waned, leading to a lot of rereading. I cannot emphasise enough that this is entirely due to my own reading preferences and for others, this could be a non-issue. The style made the writing (to me) feel vague and scattered. There were single paragraphs and single scenes that I found lovely, but as a reader I felt like I was constantly chasing cohesiveness in the novel.

It’s a good book, but it wasn’t a good book for me. I think others will like it, but before diving into it, do note the prose-like writing style and go in prepared to navigate it.

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