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The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

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Wild Ones: 08/28/21

Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad is a YA urban fantasy about women saving women and in the process, saving the world. It begins with Paheli, a girl betrayed by her mother who wants nothing more than to study. Given the chance, she runs, and collides with a boy with stars in his eyes, just before a door opens and takes her to the Between.

Paheli is one of the first Wild Ones — women who travel between cities via doors that open in the Between. The Between is like a conduit to the Other Side, but also works as its own network of paths. It's also the only way the Wild Ones can travel the world as they are tied to the cities. Besides the Wild Ones who were once human and are now immortal as long as they keep the stars in their palms, there are Not-Humans who live in the cities and trade in magic.

But it's mostly the Wild Ones who drive this beautiful, poetic novel. It's how they parley their pain into strength that gives The Wild Ones a Wonder Egg Priority vibe. Around the world there are different stories of crying women as vengeful spirits; the Wild Ones are in good company.

Together, though, they have to save the world's magic supply. Just as there are greedy human men, so are there among the magical ones. One in particular is going after the boy with the stars in his eyes. Their desire to help him and take down an abuser is part of what gives this novel the Wonder Egg Priority feel. It's also what puts the book on the Road Narrative Spectrum.

Paheli and the other women have vowed to protect and help girls and women. They've also agreed to help the boy and they are going against monsters (literal and figurative); thus the travelers are in a scarecrow/minotaur dichotomy (99). Their destination is the city to confront the man trying to take all the world's magic (00). Their route is the labyrinth (99) because their journey is a transformative one; a physical one, an emotional one, and a spiritual one.

Five stars

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