Like most NSW teenagers I was forced to read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies in high school. The fact I could imagine the boys of my high school turning into the the boys on that island just made Lord of the Flies that little bit too plausible for it to be enjoyable at the time.
And, like all methodical readers I have both a TBR pile (the pile is the physical books stacked against the wall at home and on my desk at work) and a TBR list (the list of things to read spread across a Google Doc, Goodreads and Pinterest), and on this list there are a few “classics”, including Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. When I crossed this book off said list, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that impressed.
So, when Wild Things by Brigid Delaney crossed my desk, the fact it had drawn comparisons to both these books meant I wasn’t that keen to read it. It just went in the pile rather than on top. But when it featured in the Co-op’s May Promotion I thought, hey I’ll give it a shot, and well, I take back my negative assumptions!
Set at an on-campus residential college of an Australian sandstone university, Delaney presents a not-so-flattering picture of what happens behind the doors, under the covers, in front of the camera and in the newsfeeds of social media.
I went to Sydney University and, as an arts student, I didn’t have a great deal to do with that many of the college students. But I did see them at O-Week running around campus in academic gowns, carrying bricks; and the small interactions I had with them make the events in Wild Things seem completely plausible and possibly even based a bit on fact (like when Sydney Uni’s St John’s College expelled 20 students in 2012 and the experience of two female during O-Week 2013).
The world of Wild Things is a place where money and ego can develop into a malicious self-righteousness that surpasses laws and general human rights. A place where bullying is rampant and crime can be covered up with a pact, denial or by turning a blind eye. The characters explore how empathy and consciousness, or lack thereof, make a person who they are, and when combined with peer pressure, family expectations and general self-discovery, it can mean what’s on the surface isn’t a true reflection of what is actually going on.
The writing is descriptive, emotive and completely readable and my thoughts of Wild Things is best summed up by what I thought on finishing the book –
— Jen Lyle (@anffej) May 28, 2014