Thursday, April 25, 2019

Book Review: Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Title: Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) 
Author: Suzanne Young
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 400
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The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Girls With Sharp Sticks is my second book by Suzanne Young after The Program, which I read several years ago. I was intrigued by the cover of this book and the synopsis pulled me in even more! I really didn't know what to expect or whether this was even a dystopian book, but I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. (Readers should be aware that there is physical and sexual assault in this book, so if that's something you'd rather avoid you may want to skip this one.)

Mena is the main character of this story. She attends Innovations Academy and is extremely close with many of the other girls. After meeting a boy on a field trip, she begins to open her mind just a little bit more to the world around her. I loved her friendships with the girls most of all! The girls of the academy are fiercely loyal to each other and I loved how they supported and helped each other. I also really enjoyed the romance though! It wasn't the main plot point of the story, but was just enough for those of us who love at least a little romance in all of our books.

The school and those who ran it were absolutely terrifying. The entire school was run by men with the only other woman being one of their wives, who was a graduate of the academy. I hated them all. When girls asked too many questions or become defiant, they received treatment to bring them back in line. It was infuriating watching the girls go throughout their days without question and then absolutely helpless to do anything once questions did arise. I feel like the scariest part about this story is the knowledge that it doesn't seem that far off from something that could really happen.

While I loved many parts of Girls With Sharp Sticks, I did feel that it was very predictable. At the beginning, I had an inkling that something felt off and quickly formed an idea of what I thought could be happening. The more I read, the more obvious it became that I was correct. Maybe the fact that everything is pretty much out in the open is what makes it scary? But I have a feeling that the big reveals were supposed to have more impact than they did.

I can't say much more without spoilers, but I will say that I did definitely enjoy this super disturbing, super feminist story. I wish that it had been a bit less easy to predict, but the relationships and the world building were fantastic despite that. I can't wait to see what happens next!