Girls with Sharp Sticks absolutely captivated me. I had to remind myself to take breaks, but it ultimately didn’t work, because I ended up finishing this book in one day. That’s how good it was.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Girls with Sharp Sticks is a gripping read. Once it hooks you it won’t let go. Not only does Girls with Sharp Sticks provide a nuanced and emotional portrayal of girls who are taught to ignore themselves – their emotions, their impulses, their desires. Their existence becomes dangerous, trained within a fragile line for approval. And within this book, Mena must navigate this dangerous world which hides more secrets than it wishes to reveal armed only with her friendships with the other girls at the Academy.
At times my heart ached for these girls. Young delivers the full spectrum of emotions moving us between anger, sadness, and rage all within one scene. You can tell from the beginning that there’s something deeper, sinister going on, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, waiting for that moment. Girls With Sharp Sticks is a clever dystopia, presenting us with an Academy where the girls are conditioned to behave, to value their appearance, and to control their impulses.
What’s more is that Young shows the readers, in delightfully subtle ways, how these girls, sheltered as they are, still have this feeling at the pit of their stomach – the utter wrongness. The ways they know tha things are supposed to be different, that there’s a wrongness in the air. The journey of all the characters in the book, but Mena in particular, is wonderful to watch. It’s a journey that challenges all the things we’ve been told.
When we were told not to speak too loudly, to control our temper, to stand aside. And the core of female friendship is one of the most satisfying elements of the story. It was so satisfying to see an all girl academy that did not fall into the competitive pattern, and instead focused on love and support. If you’re looking for a thriller that has a dystopian edge to it, a book that centers female friendships, or just your next five star read, then check out Girls with Sharp Sticks.