Girls With Sharp Sticks series by Suzanne Young- 5 stars!
Today's Tea Choice: Bigelow Lemon Echinacea Black Tea (start prepping your immune system guys!)
Trigger Warnings: domestic abuse, some sexual abuse, blood and gore in one fight scene
Genre: YA Dystopian
Pages: Book 1 (356) Book 2 (400) Book 3 (318)
Summary of Book 1(goodreads.com):
Thrilling start to a subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be.
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.
Wow, let me take a moment to applaud this author.
As a writer, I believe books should not only entertain, but should also make you think and explore different themes surrounding our world today. How are women treated in today's times? What strides have we made and what could we improve?
Not only does this book propose some serious questions, but it was damn awesome, especially the science fiction/dystopian elements!
What I loved:
POV: The POV is through Philomena's perspective, offering a first-hand account of the events at this academy along with the "treatments" they go through on a daily basis.
Setting/Historical Context: The school is definitely creepy as hell, and all the teachers are older men. Think of the classical, rich academy settings you may have read about before with a thrilling twist. The lessons are very antiquated, ranging from manners and decorum, gardening, and other domestic lessons. A sample report card is shown in a chapter and they are graded on beauty! As the reader later learns, these girls are here to be trophy wives, brainwashed into thinking the men are always right.
Themes: I love how this novel showed the antiquated beliefs still going on today, like women should be pretty and obedient while never questioning authority. And yes, although we have made strides in our society, some people still believe that women should be subservient! Even when Philomena is hurt by one of the guardians, she immediately blames herself.
Characters: Throughout the series, I loved reading about Philomena's character arc. We see her start out as a meek character, scared to question authority but later on, she becomes an independent badass! The other characters also act as a support network for one another, each having their own special traits and personalities.
Plot: The plot may seem slow for some, but Young adds just enough intrigue at the end of each chapter to make you question the true intentions of the academy and what they plan on doing to these girls. The novel has a similar slow build up like Young's other books, The Program series. The girls are forced to take medication that slowly alters their mind, but the worse was impulse control therapy. I can't reveal too much, but it was shocking!
What Needed Improvement:
There were only a few elements that needed improvement. I can't reveal too much, but when the girls eventually leave the school, they are set up rather easily with an apartment and tons of cash, which seemed a bit unrealistic. In book 3, there were some slow areas, but otherwise, these were the only issues I noticed.
Authors Can Learn:
-How to build a mysterious and thrilling plot
-Elements of science fiction/dystopian YA novels
-The importance of first person POV
Readers Will Love This For:
a seriously twisted yet truthful approach on our society along with women's rights.
I will close the review with this quote:
And the truth is, the media doesn’t just put pressure on girls to “flaunt” ourselves. Because at the same time, society puts pressure on us to be modest, sexy, exciting, humble, proud, perfect, flawed. That’s the thing about this world—they want girls to be the fantasy of whoever is looking at them. Tailored specifically to the taste of their viewer, the audience. Girls... are treated like a product. They are consumable, replaceable, with their own kill switches. Youth in women is coveted. Treasured. Celebrated. And once that’s gone, they are cast aside. They are left for dead. And it has nothing to do with how they dress (Young).
I give this series 5 stars.