Book Review: The Vaster Wilds

The Vaster Wilds
By Lauren Groff
Review by Claudia

If you have ever daydreamed about breaking your smartphone in half, leaving the comforts of modern life and heading off into the wilderness, this book shows that you will not live for very long. And you will probably be hungry and uncomfortable for that short period of time.

The Vaster Wilds is the gross and agonizing story of a young woman who takes a big risk. While the protagonist deals with the immediate and life-threatening consequences of her choice, her impoverished upbringing and ascension to the status of handmaid are described through flashbacks. Realistic and disgusting details of life in presumably-London and probably-Jamestown, including the thrilling account of the sea voyage in between, are the showstoppers, as is the contrasting glory of the American wilderness.

Fans of the author’s 2021 novel Matrix will enjoy the focus on the historical experience of women, with no softening or censoring. Yes, men and their influence flit about on the edges of the narrative, but the more interesting relationship being explored here is between the young woman and her god. The depiction of the protagonist’s inner crisis, the emotional climax of the protagonist’s flashbacks and glimmers of hope that twinkle in the wilds had me reading at an exponential rate.

If you enjoy a nail-biting read, you will find a lot to love in this book. I highly recommend it.