YA Weekend: Girls with Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Suspense
Series: Book 2 of Girls with Sharp Sticks
Publisher: Simon Pulse (March 17, 2020)
Length: 400 pages
Having immensely enjoyed Girls with Sharp Sticks, I looked forward to its sequel with much excitement, which is why I’m happy to say it did not disappoint. However, as the second installment in the series, it has lost some of its novelty, perhaps explaining why I did not like it as much as the previous one. In light of some of the bombshell secrets revealed at the end of the first book, it’s also no surprise this one did not feel as mysterious or intense.
Speaking of which, this would be a good time for a warning: if you haven’t finished Girls with Sharp Sticks, please note this review may contain spoilers for the first book especially the ending, since Girls with Razor Hearts picks up immediately where it leaves off. After uncovering the truth about the Innovations Academy and themselves, our protagonist Mena and her friends have escaped their guardians and have decided to use their newfound freedom to expose the corporation and their anonymous donors behind their former school. Still, they have to be careful. Too much money has already been invested for Innovations to ignore what the girls have done, and sooner or later, the headmaster will be coming after them.
Following a tip, Mena tracks down the location of a powerful investor who might be able to help them, attending the local high school to gather more information. To her dismay though, the more she learns about the real world, the more she realizes that women here don’t really have it any better than she did within the walls of Innovation Academy. The system is hugely biased towards men and boys, who create an environment of fear and oppression for the girls even at Ridgeview Prep where Mena has enrolled. Despite the injustice, she must fight hard to contain her outrage in order to carry out her mission, as any trouble could alert those looking for her and her friends to their whereabouts. Luckily, the girls may have more allies in the outside world than they think, though Mena will need to learn fast in order to know whom to trust.
To highlight what this book does well, one only needs to go back to Girls with Sharp Sticks and note the way author Suzanne Young portrayed these incredible characters and their female friendships. Like its predecessor, Girls with Razor Hearts contains plenty of amazing examples of Mena and her friends helping and supporting one another, which is something we don’t get to see nearly enough of in YA today where instances of girls tearing down other girls are sadly all too common. Mena was also a joy to follow, especially now that we are given some insight into independent spirit and nature, and as to why she might be that way. In short, without going into too much detail, our protagonist was meant to be the “Rebel.” Ironically, I think the explanation removes some of the “authenticity” that had initially made the characters’ personalities so endearing, though to be fair, the girls have also made great strides individually and started developing their own unexpected traits.
Still, compared to the first book, it’s hard not to see this sequel was lighter on story. Girls with Sharp Sticks relied heavily on its air of mystery to maintain suspense and interest, and at the end of it came the big reveal that cleared it all up. So what’s left for our characters to do? This book followed a logical progression as to their next step, but it also seemed somewhat inadequate and not enough to carry a full book. This resulted in more filler, as well as a novel which felt like a bridge book as a whole. My feelings were further confirmed by the abrupt ending that we got, not to mention the messages in this sequel felt more heavy-handed and not as smoothly integrated when compared to book one. And as much as I adored Mena, I also wished her friends could have contributed more evenly to the story, as a couple of them appeared to have benched and didn’t get as much development. Even now I have trouble recalling all their names, and I finished this novel not too long ago.
In sum, while Girls with Razor Hearts was a good book, it fell a bit short of my expectations which were admittedly quite high, considering my love for the original. That said, Mena and her friends’ accomplishments in this sequel were definitely not in vain, and I think Suzanne Young has paved a solid path for the third book, which will hopefully bring back more excitement and suspense.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Girls with Sharp Sticks (Book 1)