Girls with Sharp Sticks: 3 ways this book will creep you out


Suzanne Young’s next series opener, Girls with Sharp Sticks, will leave a reader completely unnerved even before the conclusion.

At first glance, Suzanne Young’s new book, Girls with Sharp Sticks, bears a close resemblance to her previous series, The Program. There’s a stark, eye-catching cover — though Girls relies not on pops of color, but on the fact that the cover model holds a broken piece of her face — and the idea of teens being changed somehow.

But Girls doesn’t have boys at Innovations Academy. Instead, it’s only teenage girls, with an all-male faculty. That can have a reader’s hair standing up on the back of their neck already, and that’s just the first instance. It might not be triggering for readers, but it certainly calls up some unpleasant associations.

But the story of Philomena goes even darker and deeper, turning into a page-turner of a book with a pointed — some might even say sharp — message. Here are three more things that had this reader chilled.

The narration

Young carefully fosters a disconnect between what is being read on the page and how a reader might react to it, particularly early on. Things happen that would have most of us up in arms, but there’s this calmness about how Philomena relates what’s going on around her. It’s not necessarily the most well-written or stylistic novel — and when Young does try for some metaphors, they don’t always read properly.

But this changes throughout the novel, as Philomena learns more about how Innovations really works. Young can’t just give the entire game away, but it’s clear very early on that something is wrong here.

The revelations

Obviously, there’s no point in spilling the plot here. But even as Young builds that suspense in the narration, she’s also dropping red herrings and drawing attention to certain things that don’t end up paying off it the ways that you expect. It does take a little while to make it to that first real breakthrough in the overarching plot of the book, but the buildup is worth it because of that sense of unease.

Then, though, the reveals really start dropping. Although it nearly clocks in at 400 pages, the last 100 pages or so will fly by as things escalate further and further. For the first book in a series — and it’s clearly labeled as such — this book could stand alone just on the strength of these surprises.

The title

Girls with Sharp Sticks is not just the name of the book. It’s the name of something else in the book, too. It’s an odd choice when the book’s genre is science fiction (even in its Library of Congress classification!).

But not only does it show up in the book, it spawns something more. It sums up the book — that these girls are taking up whatever they can to fight back — but also at what is to come in future books.

Related Story. 30 books that you can totally judge by their covers. light

This is for those who love a thriller just as much as they love a sci-fi novel, with just a dash of horror for flavor. Where could a second novel go? Well, there are certainly some hints. For now, this is a great book to launch spring reading.