Tag Archives: Suzanne Young

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne Young

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne YoungTitle: Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) by Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: March 19, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Program (The Program #1), Just Like Fate

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

bookreview1

** This review WILL contain spoilers for the book. The paragraph with major spoilers is clearly marked. ** 

I was SUPER excited to pick up GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS expecting some crazy stuff because more than a few of my most trusted reviewers (and good friends) rated this book five stars so I was expecting to finally be in for a treat and not be the black sheep on a hyped book (again). Aaaand then came the awkward moment where I realized I’m yet again just not getting on the hype train.

There’s not really a good way to talk about this book without spoilers because yes, there is a Big Thing at the end of the book and sharing anything about it or noting any comparisons really gives the big reveal away so I’ll put that all in a spoiler tag later. The one comparison I can make that’s not a spoiler is that it reminded mea little bit of the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS had a dystopian feel to it like The Chemical Garden books with that same concept of young girls being raised/made to be wives and sold off (or kidnapped) so it had me reeling all the way back to 2012 when I read the first book so hey, 7-year flashback going on and keeping that dystopian hype alive! I was expecting the book to be a little more thriller with some sci-fi aspects and it is creepy and mysterious but I think it feels much more dystopian/dark sci-fi than that thriller aspect, which is really what I was hoping for.

Once you understand the ending, it’s easier to look back at the whole book and see things in a different light, but I was so uncomfortable reading this book until we got to that point. There were some hints dropped but the book was really hard to read with how poorly these girls were treated. A lot of the hype and excitement of the book comes from the girls rising up and smashing the patriarchy but it was just so painful to witness them being treated like property (literally), sexually abused, and trained to be brainless and obedient. This went on for SO LONG throughout the book (okay, really literally through the end) so it was just so hard to read and I was so uncomfortable. There were little rebellions throughout but it was just a constant onslaught of abuse that I found it really difficult to enjoy.

THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. SKIP IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THEM. Sooo the twist is that this book is basically kind of Westworld but without the western aspect. The girls have all been “born” in a lab with organs and skin that have been grown there but are full of wires that connect to a metal brain and it’s all artificial intelligence. It presents the same kind of question that Westworld did (or does… I stopped watching it because I also found that plot to be slow-moving to get on with the big picture) — when AI starts to adapt, think, learn, and love, it is human and does it have human rights, or is it essentially still just a machine? Is it both? There’s no doubt that these characters are humanized (clearly, since we’re not told that they’re AI until the end of the book) and there are a lot of complicated feelings involved! Did I love the twist? Ehhh. Does it lessen how poorly they were treated? I still felt greatly uncomfortable and didn’t feel any better about reading what I did just because they were AI. It does make more sense to go back and see the “logic” about why they were treated like property but all that really did for me was open up a whole other can of worms. I also kind of felt like it took too long to get there because I would have liked to explore that more in the book.

I don’t know where the series is going but I would have liked to get to the ending a little quicker so we could spend more time soaking it in and exploring those ideas. I suppose it is a series (which I didn’t realize when I first got the book but did know before I started it) so there’s still time for that. I feel like it COULD have been a stand alone. I don’t know where the rest of the series is going but I don’t have any desire to continue on with it, which is also why I rated it down to two stars instead of three. If I had more of a curiosity to continue, I probably would have felt like I was leaving it on a higher note but I just am not interested in more of this story.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Dystopian reads! This was a little bit between dystopian and sci-fi and I had some major early 2000s – 2010s dystopian flashbacks!
Left Me Wanting More: Time away from abuse. Gosh, this book was hard to read with the main characters constantly being abused and controlled. I was uncomfortable for most of the book and it just made it so difficult. I get that that’s also the point but I was just constantly on edge in the way that it was presented for some reason.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Some of my close reader friends really, really loved this one. I just had a hard time reading it. I say check things out and see what you think!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS

             

Just Like Fate – Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young

Just Like Fate – Cat Patrick & Suzanne YoungTitle: Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick, Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: August 27, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Alternate Reality, Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 13, 2013
Related Posts: The Program (The Program #1)

    Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...

bookreview1

JUST LIKE FATE was a really fun read for me! I pretty much love anything with alternate universes/co-existing realities so I was really excited to see exactly how this story plays out. Here’s the gist: Caroline’s grandmother just suffered a stroke and as it seems her clock is ticking down, Caroline devotes all her spare time to staying at her grandmother’s bedside. When her friend calls her to invite her to a party to help lighten her mood, JUST LIKE FATE splits into two possible story lines: Whether Caroline chooses to stay with her grandmother or go to the party.
I want to say before I start my full review, though, that don’t get confused: The only people aware of these two alternate paths are us, the readers. I’m actually not 100% sure how to categorize the book since the readers are just getting two different stories none of the characters, including Caroline, are aware of the split. I felt like it was mostly contemporary but the fact that there is a split brings in a tiny element of paranormal/sci-fi so I’d be interested to hear how you guys feel about that!

I won’t say TOO much about each story line, but I will say that each option presents Caroline with different reactions and relationship-altering situations from her family, an interesting new romance possibility, and friendships put to the test. I will say that I appreciated that the two paths were in fact very different with some minor things and of course people that overlapped. When the story first split, it was a tiny bit confusing to keep the two separated because they were so similar, but as Caroline digressed in two opposite directions, we end up with different situations and different settings so things quickly solidify into separate stories.

One thing we definitely see about Caroline as reiterated by her family and friend is that she’s a runner. No, not like a track star, but she has a tendency to run and hide from her problems. Caroline seems to be running unconsciously so naturally it’s shocking and painful when that’s brought to her attention and I really think this is the way we see her grow the most. I actually liked seeing a blatantly obvious character flaw in Caroline. It was kind of nice to be shown that issue right off the bat and constantly witness Caroline’s progress with addressing conflict and standing up for herself. I think it made me that much more proud of her when I saw her making strong choices near the end of the book!

So the boys. There are two boys in this book. Firstly there’s Joel who is Caroline’s long-time crush. His relationship with Caroline is dominant in the “Stay” part of the book. Obviously we’ll all make our own opinions of Joel but I was always a bit… wary. And I think the authors made me feel that way for a certain reason. It’s all cryptic now, but of course I don’t want to give away any major spoilers! The other love interest is the new guy Chris who dominates the “Go” part of the book. Chris is a cute guy who Caroline meets at the party and he is my kind of crush! He’s snarky but sweet and you know I love that banter and joke-flirting. Personally, I was rooting for the Chris story to work out… But….

JUST LIKE FATE is written so well because each path has some serious upsides and some MAJOR issues that Caroline will have to deal with in either path she chooses, so of course the whole time I’m wondering, “Which path does Caroline actually choose and how does this story end!?!?!” I was totally itching to know at the very end. So which one does she pick? Of course I’m not revealing that answer BUT I will say that I think the end was done perfectly. Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young did a great job of closing the story in the only possible way they could have and it was a good surprise!

character_breakdown1

Caroline // Character Obsessions: Her grandmother, Electric Freakshow, Joel.
As mentioned earlier, I really liked seeing her flaws. I think that really helped me see several different aspects of her character without having to dig for them and it was that much easier to see her grow. I actually really identified with Caroline a lot. I wouldn’t say our lives are similar but I tend to avoid conflict situations so I totally understood her behavior. I really sympathized with her a lot!
Natalie // Character Obsessions: Her family, pointing out Caroline’s flaws.
Natalie is Caroline’s older sister and I feel compelled to talk about her. I was actually gonna go into listing the boys next, but Natalie just stuck out in my head and I needed to address her character. In the very beginning, we see that Natalie and Caroline do not get along. AT ALL. But I could see that so much of Natalie’s anger extended from the hurt that Caroline unknowingly caused. I really felt for Natalie and I really liked seeing so many sides of HER in these two paths. We actually get to see the many different faces of Natalie and I really liked seeing that she was just Caroline’s mean, cold-hearted older sister.
Joel // Character Obsessions: Electric Freakshow, making out, girls.
Joel is Caroline’s long-time crush and plays a big role in JUST LIKE FATE. I gotta say… I got some not-so-good vibes from this guy right off the bat. It made it REALLY hard to like him but we come to learn that there may be more to this guy than Caroline originally knows. Again, not wanting to give away any spoilers, I’ll stop there!
Chris // Character Obsessions: Music, jokes, Caroline.
Ohhh, I loved Chris. Of course he’s not without his flaws and Caroline still picks up some questionable vibes from him here and there but he was the guy that was so easy to like! He was funny, smart, a musician, confident… Everything I love to crush on in books! Of course, all of those things attract a LOT of girls soooo. You can see where Caroline might have some issues!
addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Parallel Universes. I definitely need to read more of these kinds of books (I’ve read Pivot Point, have Tandem, and want to read Parallel) because I just love the concept!
Left Me Wanting More: Responsibility. Caroline seemed really… immature at times. Chalk that up to being a teenager, but I wanted her to show a bit more maturity (which I guess she did towards the end), but sometimes her decisions left a bad taste in my mouth.

Addiction Rating
RECOMMEND IT.

This was an enjoyable read for me but I’m somewhat on the fence whether I’d say buy it or not… I would, however, definitely recommend it to others!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE JUST LIKE FATE     

Pivot Point      Time Between Us

The Program (Program #1) – Suzanne Young

The Program (Program #1) – Suzanne YoungTitle: The Program (The Program #1) by Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: April 30, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 27, 2013
Related Posts: Just Like Fate

    Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories. Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

bookreview1

You know what… I’m actually really impressed with THE PROGRAM. I’m not sure why, especially since I had seen so many 4, 4.5 and 5 star reviews from my fellow bloggers but for some reason I really didn’t expect to end up liking this so much. I guess I can say that I’m happy I sort of surprised myself! THE PROGRAM was really different than I what I had originally expected. I was thinking this was going to be much more dystopian in the sense that it would be further off into the future (although I have no idea what year this was supposed to be in the first place) and that there would be much more… weird technology, I guess? Okay, I admit I’m not 100% sure what I expected, but THE PROGRAM was very much grounded in the normal world as we know it except for the teen suicide epidemic and of course, the introduction of The Program.

Despite the fact that this book revolves entirely around teen suicide and how it affects the family and friends left behind after the death, for some reason I never expected to be so emotionally involved in the book. My guess is because the cover is so cold and calculating with the stark white room. I was glad that I connected so well to really each and every character in this book. Sloane’s story was quite emotional for me. I really felt for her, for her family, and her friends. I really got to know all of the characters before Sloane’s memory starts getting wiped (which is a known process of The Program). It was crazy to think about how I would feel if I was going through this same process of losing my memories of my loved ones and my past, even if those memories weren’t always happy ones.

I actually found myself really sucked into the sadness of the story. With teen suicide being so prominent and reading about those intense and terrible feelings directly from Sloane’s POV, I really sort of internalized it all and let myself really get lost in the book for a while. That could be a dangerous thing if your emotions are easily swayed but I was still able to pull myself back out and find a happy place when I needed to. The biggest part of that emotional aspect was the relationship between Sloane and her boyfriend James and seeing how her brother’s suicide affected them both since James was his best friend. Everything felt so real and so true.

The Program itself? Pretty creepy. The concept of wiping memories just plain skeeves me out, not to mention a super-creepy worker and the head honchos who run the Program who definitely cannot be trusted. I was honestly getting pretty irate with them because everything SOUNDS like it would be for the good of the patient but you just know what they’re doing just doesn’t feel right. There’s also Realm (that’s his last name) who plays a big part in the story. He’s… interesting. I always got this feeling like I shouldn’t trust him but at the same time you could see the good side of him as well. As much as I didn’t like his character, I did… If that makes sense. He was actually pretty complex and had true feelings for Sloane. We end up with kiiind of a love triangle, but not really.

Okay, okay, I know this all sounds very vague, but I’m trying really hard not to include any spoilers! There are some great twists and turns in this plot but really overall, I think it was the emotional side that really took me by surprise and swept me away. I loved the love story between Sloane and James and her determination to remember him and keep all the memories of him that she possibly can. It’s definitely less dystopian than I thought as far as action and politics goes and more of a love story with a bit of a sci-fi element set in the future. I can definitely see how so many people loved it. I know I did! I also thought the ending was really great and I really can’t wait to get my hands on book two!

character_breakdown1

Sloane: I actually really loved Sloane. She really felt like a normal teenager who was dealing with the tragedy of losing her brother and also her friends. She coped the best way she could and had a really solid relationship with her boyfriend James. When The Program starts infiltrating her life, her survival mode and total ferocity kicks in. I loved how much she fought for her family and friends and to keep the memories of them alive. Sloane has an extremely wide range of emotions and I totally felt them all right along side her!
James: James is Sloane’s boyfriend and I thought he was totally swoony! Maybe not physically the type I’d go for, but it’s a book. I guess I can picture him however I want haha. Anyway, I loved his relationship with Sloane and how adorable the stories are of their first kiss, first date, and first time they realized they liked each other. James was best friends with Sloane’s brother so they had always known each other so it was so cute seeing that relationship develop through the stories and memories in Sloane’s head. It was also SO interesting to see how their paths changed after The Program started messing with their lives and I loved how everything came back around.
Realm: I was a bit back and forth with Realm. I wanted to like him, but I didn’t. There were so many reasons and hints not to trust him but honestly, I could see the parts of him that truly were good. It was really interesting to see how much he was involved in Sloane’s story and I’m super curious to see what kinds of roles he’ll play in the rest of the series.

addiction_factor1

Read it!

I really, really enjoyed this one quite a bit. I was surprised at how much I connected with it and it really stirred up a lot of emotions. Definitely recommending this one!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE PROGRAM

(click on the cover to see my review!)

     Reboot      Unremembered