A review of Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Reviewed by Emily McDonell

Girls with Sharp Sticks
by Suzanne Young
Simon Pulse
April 1, 2019, 400 pages, ISBN13: 9781534445222

Scarily real and eerie, Girls with Sharp Sticks is written in a mysterious style which allows the reader, similar to the girls in the book, to discover the true purpose of the characters and the setting as they read further into the book, certain elements become clear. This book leave readers questioning and alert in readiness after completion.

Philomena, or Mena is a girl of Innovations Academy – a secretive boarding school to those in the outside world. The girls are pretty, full of grace and the very embodiment of politeness. No need for opinions nor rights, these girls are simply to obey their Guardian and the other authorities within the school. Through Young’s skilled writing, both the reader and our main character Mena discover the school may not be as perfect as it promises. More and more secrets are uncovered, and Mena and her close friends and fellow attendees discover the true meaning and purpose as to why they are here and what is truly happening to them.

Often compared with ‘Westworld meets Handmaid’s Tale’ Girls with Sharp Sticks has powerful themes and plot twists which will leave you theorising long after you’ve read it.

I found this story to be rather thought-provoking with questions like, ‘What defines us as human?’ This book allowed me to think constantly about what was going to happen next and once I’d finished, I was simultaneously hyped for the upcoming sequel as well as perplexed at the ending. I adored this novel with its unique blend of sci-fi and dystopian.

In terms of age brackets and ideal audience I would pre warn readers about certain aspects of this book as some themes, violence and other occurrences may be of concern or sensitivity to some readers. However, Girls with Sharp Sticks is a young adult novel, my recommendation is for ages 15 and above. 

As a whole, I really enjoyed the story and setting of the text, as well as the themes being expressed, which highlight particular areas/issues in relation to modern society. On average, I don’t normally read this type of genre, GWST has altered my perspective on several things and encouraged me to seek out more sci-fi, dystopian, psychological thrillers. I loved Suzanne Young’s expression through her writing and in her characters and am highly anticipating the sequel Girls with Razor Hearts, with its release in March this year. 

About the reviewer: Emily McDonell was first prize winner in the Hunter Writers’ Centre/Compulsive Reader book review competition. She is a high school student, an avid reader and has a passion for books. It was clear from a very early age that books would play a large part in her life. Emily has participated in the Premier’s Reading Challenge since starting her schooling and her favourite subject is English. Emily has also been a Girl Guide for the past nine years and is currently working to complete her Queen’s Guide Award. Emily also loves animals especially her dog Jersey.