Book Review – Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

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.


Thanks to Susan over at Novel Lives for thrusting this weird and wonderful book into my life!

Mena and the rest of the girls at Innovations Academy think they lead normal lives. Taught to be beautiful, respectful and obedient, there one aim in life is to graduate and make their parents proud by becoming wives. They don’t see anything wrong with the stares and touches they receive from their all male staff, or they way they are expected to dress up and show off their assets. It is only when Mena meets Jackson on a day trip that she starts to question whether things should be this way. Jackson makes her question everything she knows, and after one of their own disappears Mena decides to ask some questions of her own. Only she isn’t ready for the answers.

This book is like a twisted version of The Handmaids Tale and The Kingdom. In Innovations Academy the girls are taught not maths and science but how to bake, how to dress and how to make themselves the most presentable options for wives. As an outsider looking in, we the reader can see the problems and the wrongness about this but the girls know no different. Jackson, the only outside we really hear from in this book basically say’s what we as the reader are thinking and that really added to the book for me, having us as a reader almost as part of the story itself, Jackson asked the questions and voiced the thoughts that we as the reader could not and for that reason his character is invaluable.

Mena was a great perspective to read the book from. After meeting Jackson, she starts to question things. After one night where she had a little too much to drink and threw up her nightly tablets she sees things in a new light. The teachers that used to be nice and respectful of the girls are leery and judgemental. We already know there is something disturbing and wrong about the school, but when Mena starts acting out and questioning things we get to see the true depravity of it, something that we could never have expected. Her characters growth progresses throughout the book from a scared and timid girl to someone to be feared, someone willing to break the rules for those she loves, a girl with a sharp stick.

We are left with a whole host of unanswered questions at the end of the book, especially after reading the last chapter. Though I found the ‘big reveal’ to be slightly predictable, it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. In fact seeing it through Mena’s eyes, even though I had already guessed it, gave it a whole new level of disturbing and I find myself getting angrier and angrier the more I read. This is definitely an easy read, though a little slow at the start it quickly picks up pace and I easily found myself reading the majority of the book in one sitting. Definitely not for the feint of heart, but if you like a book that makes you think, that has you questioning society and morality then this is the book for you.

7 replies »

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’m equally upset with myself for building it up too much that it took some of the unexpected away. Some of the utter WIG NH EIZNISJFB AS J TTB I felt was because while I knew? I had NO IDEA.

    But… I am glad you enjoyed it and yes to Jackson. Lord I wish there were more Jackson type characters in books. Because that is some class a validation right there. It is like she took her linear notes and made them a character!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome review! I’ve had this on my TBR since I saw the cover for the first time last year (I love it!) but haven’t had the chance to read it yet (of course) lol I love the sound of this concept and Mena sounds like she becomes quite the bad ass character. I’m even more excited to read this now. Great review 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hah I only heard of it through Susan’s review & she made me read it as payback for getting her to pick up Nevernight (only fair I suppose) it’s very dark and twisty but also wierdly funny… I hope you enjoy it 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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