Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks, #1)

by Suzanne Young

“Enough plot twists to give a reader whiplash.” —Cosmopolitan

From New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young comes the start of a thrilling, subversive new series about a girls-only boarding school with a terrifying secret and the friends who will stop at nothing to protect each other.

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.

Reviewed by cornerfolds on

4 of 5 stars

Read more of my reviews at!

Girls With Sharp Sticks is my second book by Suzanne Young after The Program, which I read several years ago. I was intrigued by the cover of this book and the synopsis pulled me in even more! I really didn't know what to expect or whether this was even a dystopian book, but I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. (Readers should be aware that there is physical and sexual assault in this book, so if that's something you'd rather avoid you may want to skip this one.)

Mena is the main character of this story. She attends Innovations Academy and is extremely close with many of the other girls. After meeting a boy on a field trip, she begins to open her mind just a little bit more to the world around her. I loved her friendships with the girls most of all! The girls of the academy are fiercely loyal to each other and I loved how they supported and helped each other. I also really enjoyed the romance though! It wasn't the main plot point of the story, but was just enough for those of us who love at least a little romance in all of our books.

The school and those who ran it were absolutely terrifying. The entire school was run by men with the only other woman being one of their wives, who was a graduate of the academy. I hated them all. When girls asked too many questions or become defiant, they received treatment to bring them back in line. It was infuriating watching the girls go throughout their days without question and then absolutely helpless to do anything once questions did arise. I feel like the scariest part about this story is the knowledge that it doesn't seem that far off from something that could really happen.

While I loved many parts of Girls With Sharp Sticks, I did feel that it was very predictable. At the beginning, I had an inkling that something felt off and quickly formed an idea of what I thought could be happening. The more I read, the more obvious it became that I was correct. Maybe the fact that everything is pretty much out in the open is what makes it scary? But I have a feeling that the big reveals were supposed to have more impact than they did.

I can't say much more without spoilers, but I will say that I did definitely enjoy this super disturbing, super feminist story. I wish that it had been a bit less easy to predict, but the relationships and the world building were fantastic despite that. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Last modified on

Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • Finished reading
  • 13 April, 2019: Reviewed