ARC Review: Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Title: Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks #1)
Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: Thriller, Dystopia 
Source: ARC via Publisher
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 19th 2019

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.

It is not secret that I am a huge Suzanne Young fan. She won me over with her The Program series and she has be a to-go to author ever since. When I first heard of Girls with Sharp Sticks I was immediately intrigued. I've seen Girls with Sharp Sticks compared to The Handmaid's Tale which is another amazing feminist and dystopian book that I loved. Girls with Sharp Sticks has an important message for those who are reading: girls are not going to be controlled by our male counterparts. We aren't pretty objects to be ogled and most importantly, we have our own voices. We can and we will fight back.

The book opens with Innovations Academy, a finishing school for young ladies. The girls who attend the academy are perfect and one day they are going to make perfect wives, caregivers and anything else that Innovations Academy deems them fit to be. It is quick to see that the girls are obedient, respect the men who care for them and when they do disrespect them they have to have their values "adjusted." The seemingly perfect Innovations Academy starts to become darker as you turn the pages as the seemingly perfect girls begin to act out, dark secrets come to the surface and you learn what Innovations Academy really is. 

I've never read a book where I burned with some much anger then I have with Girls with Sharp Sticks. Mena and the other girls are taught that they should have no opinions, that men are always right and if that they should always be obedient. It makes me want to scream seeing how all the professors, doctors and other adult males in this novel treated these girls like they were nothing. How they took advantage and taught these girls that there were only objects to be admired. But then I got angrier, because it isn't just the girls in this book. It's happening to woman everyday in real life. Guardian Bose grabbed Mena roughly cause she wasn't fast enough at the gas station, it was Mena's fault not Bose for handling her roughly. No man is going to want a girl who is opinionated. When the girls values are skewed they are sent to Anton to be "readjusted." Girls with Sharp Sticks drives home the feminist movement and how important it is. 

Though I knew Girls with Sharp Sticks was going to get darker as I read on, I wasn't expecting as dark and terrifying as it got. The last one hundred fifty pages were nonstop developments in the story. Girls with Sharp Sticks took on a dystopian twist that I did not see coming, and quite honestly shocked me. But at the same time was perfectly Suzanne's style and is one of the biggest reasons I love her science fiction novels. Not only did this book make me think about what it is to be a woman but also what is is to be human.  

My only confusion is the time period that Girls with Sharp Sticks takes place, I want to say near future considering the science fiction aspects. Jackson also mentions the push in women rights and the attempted censorship of the internet that had failed. But there is nothing concrete about a set year or time frame. 

Girls with Sharp Sticks had my attention from page one and didn't let it go until the last page. I am really excited to see where Suzanne is going to take Mena and the rest of her characters in the next book. Girls with Sharp Sticks is a must read for 2019 and shouldn't be missed. If you are looking for a fast paced, feminist thriller that is going to knock you off of your seat then Girls with Sharp Sticks is for you! 

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