Title: Girls with Sharp Sticks
Author: Suzanne Young
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Series: Girls with Sharp Sticks, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Suzanne Young is one of my favorite authors; I’ve been obsessed with her work ever since I read The Program. So, when I found out that she was writing a new series opener, I was super excited. It’s been in my library stack for a while, and once I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of my stack after I finished Grim Lovelies. I devoured this book in a day and a half, a strange fever dream reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale. Visceral, timely, vicious and thought-provoking, Girls with Sharp Sticks was a series opener that I will never forget, and I can’t wait for Girls with Razor Hearts! This book is one of my favorites of 2019; it was unforgettable.
The Girls at Innovations Academy are beautiful, obedient, and pleasant. Under the watchful gazes of their male Guardians, the all-girls school trains its students to be the best society has to offer. They are perfect, free of ugly emotions like arrogance and defiance. But Philomena, or Mena for short, begins to realize that their carefully curated lives are not as perfect as they first appear. As she and her friends begin to unearth the dark secrets of what’s really going on in Innovations Academy—and who they really are—they will discover what they’re truly capable of, because the most beautiful flowers have the sharpest thorns…
This book. This book! I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of a mashup of The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld, with spare, gorgeous prose and a sick feeling of dread throughout. The pacing was breakneck; Mena’s voice grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until long after the last page. The whole book, I knew what was coming, but I was dreading it all at once. The twists turns, and secrets had me gasping or shrieking. I also loved the characters, especially Mena; her character development as someone who was content to be used into a young woman who grows into her own agency and learns to fight back against the men imprisoning her and her friends. I also applaud the way that Young pointed out rape culture through the narrative; this book was vicious, visceral, and pulled absolutely no punches. It was shocking and timely, especially in our current America, where women’s rights are being steamrolled as I write this review, including in my own state of Ohio. The ending was shocking, and more than a little scary. This book read to me like a horror novel, with a sprinkle of science fiction thrown in for flavor. But it was absolutely necessary, and it should be required reading for everyone. I loved its message: Down with the patriarchy and the way it tries to control girls and young women under impossible double standards they cannot possibly keep themselves. I can’t wait for Girls with Razor Hearts next year! Suzanne has knocked another one straight out of the park, and I can’t wait for more! The bottom line: Dark, dreadful, necessary and visceral, I loved Girls with Sharp Sticks, and I can’t wait for the sequel next year! Next on deck: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo!