Saturday, October 22, 2022

Book Review: Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks #1) by Suzanne Young

Title: Girls with Sharp Sticks
Series: Girls with Sharp Sticks #1
Publication Date: March 19th 2019
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
From New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young comes the start of a thrilling, subversive new series about a girls-only boarding school with a terrifying secret and the friends who will stop at nothing to protect each other.

Some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardian, they receive a well-rounded education that promises to make them better. Obedient girls, free from arrogance or defiance. Free from troublesome opinions or individual interests.

But the girls’ carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears. As Mena and her friends uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations Academy will learn to fight back.

Bringing the trademark plot twists and high-octane drama that made The Program a bestselling and award-winning series, Suzanne Young launches a new series that confronts some of today’s most pressing ethical questions.

When I read the synopsis of Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young, I was hooked. I love stories about mysterious boarding schools, so I had to read this book! Plus, I had read The Program by Suzanne Young and loved that book. I was not disappointed by this novel.

Philomena aka Mena is one of the beautiful girls. In fact, all the girls at her all girls boarding school are beautiful. They are taught how to behave. They're only allowed salads for food, and their classes focus more on etiquette and how to act in male company. They are all fully obedient until one day something awakens in Mena. She realizes that not all is as it seems at her boarding school. Something sinister is going on, and Mena will do anything to find out to protect her friends.

The plot of Girls with Sharp Sticks has been done before. In fact, much of the plot reminded me so much of the 2018 film Level 16 with a few differences. However, I still really enjoyed the plot. While one of the major plot twists became obvious to me about halfway through the book, there were still a few plot twists that I never would have predicted. Throughout my reading of this book, I felt like I was standing right there in the pages watching everything unfold. Yes, there were some over the top things that happened in the story, but this didn't put me off. I loved that this novel didn't have much romance in it. There is a very light romance though. 
I very much enjoyed the creepy boarding school setting with it's very strict teachers (the majority of them male). As this is a series, there is a minor cliff hanger, but I feel like this book can be read without having to read the other books in the series unless you want to know what happens afterwards. You could just read Girls with Sharp Sticks and leave it with the happyish ending though if you really wanted to.

I enjoyed reading about all the characters even the vile ones. Mena certainly was an interesting character with her thought process and how fearless she was. Her curiosity did get her in trouble from time to time, but she persevered to get to the bottom of what was happening at her school in order to protect her friends. Guardian Bose was easy to hate because of how horrible he treated the girls. I just wanted him to go away because he was so mean! I had a love hate relationship with Anton. On one hand, I felt that he cared about the girls in his own way, but I knew he was not to be trusted at all. Jackson had an interesting back story, but after learning his back story, I was left wanting to know more about him. My favorite character throughout the book was Valentine. There was just something about her. In my mind, I had pictured her a a beautiful frail girl, but looks can be deceiving! I was hoping we'd get to read more about her throughout the book than what we did. Valentine was the best part of the book in my opinion.

Trigger warnings for Girls with Sharp Sticks include profanity, blackmail, brainwashing, violence, mentions of sexual assault, and murder.

All in all, Girls with Sharp Sticks is an engrossing read with its interesting character and a plot that will have you cheering on the young women as they try to figure out what's going on at their school. I would definitely recommend Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young to those ages 16+ who are sick of being told what to do by the patriarchy.

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