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Girls with Sharp Sticks

Review

Girls with Sharp Sticks

GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS follows Mena through her time at Innovations Academy, an all-girls boarding schools with limited spots that teaches girls how to be well behaved. The young ladies are taught how to be obedient, compliant and how to always look beautiful. Their caretakers are all male, with the exception of the head of school’s wife, and the girls rarely leave the Academy grounds except for approved field trips. After one such field trip, Mena meets a boy at a gas station and from there, Mena and her friends start to slowly uncover that something is wrong with Innovations Academy.

I’ve heard great things about Suzanne Young and her book, THE PROGRAM so I was excited to read this book. Previous to reading GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS, I felt like I was on a downwards YA spiral and thought that maybe I was growing out of the genre as my last year of being a teenager is coming closer. Much to my relief, this book proved to me that I definitely still love young adult books. GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS is a very unique book that had me turning the pages, eager to discover more. I also love the cover and how Mena (or at least I think the girl is supposed to be Mena), is holding a piece of her face in her hand, while underneath the ripped off piece, her skin is still smooth and real looking underneath.

"If you love intense and creative sci-fi books with female bonding and friendships that are non-toxic, then you will definitely enjoy GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS."

The carefully cultivated environment that the girls live in at Innovations Academy is slowly revealed to the reader over time so that at first it seems like nothing is wrong. As time goes on however, the total wrongness of everything the girls are subjected to by the males at the school is clearly evident and readers are left wondering how they didn’t see it from the beginning. All I could think while nearing the end of the book is: how could society let this happen? I am still not over how backwards this novel is in terms of women’s rights. How could the men in the book despite women so much?

The setting of the book is near distant future because, while the world seems relatively modern at first, the advanced technology seen later with the impulse control therapy is clearly more advanced than our time. The scary part here, however, is that the technology seen in the book is not that far off with what humans are capable of doing now. I thought it was interesting how Young never has any character specify what exactly the girls are being groomed for. It’s an unspoken assumption that the girls are being readied for a life as an obedient wife, but there’s also the underlying thought that there could be other reasons the investors would want a perfectly groomed girl that make me shudder.

If you love intense and creative sci-fi books with female bonding and friendships that are non-toxic, then you will definitely enjoy GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS. The ending definitely was one of my favorite parts, and I loved all of the hints readers got throughout the book that lead up to the last few chapters. Mena and the other girls are such great characters to follow and I’m excited to see what the next book brings.

Reviewed by Ilona Kaydanov on March 19, 2019

Girls with Sharp Sticks
by Suzanne Young