Well, I did it! Despite not being keen on Book 2, I decided to buy the third of Suzanne Young’s Sharp Sticks trilogy, Girls With Rebel Souls. I LOVED the first book, Girls With Sharp Sticks, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should!
I won’t lie; a big reason I got the third hardback was because these covers are just beautiful.
So I got Girls With Rebel Souls. (WARNING: this review doesn’t contain spoilers for Rebel Souls, but may contain some spoilers for the first and second books! You have been warned!)
The girls make their final stand in this third and final novel in the thrilling, subversive near-future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private school that is far more than it appears to be.
“There is no one who can save your rebel soul…
The girls of Innovations Academy escaped the confines of their unethical school, fought against the system protecting predators who targeted girls for harassment, and they’re not done yet. They’re still not free.
Reeling from one revelation after the next, Mena and her friends begin to unwind the truth of their existence and, as a result, their destiny. The men from Innovations Corporation still hunt them, the woman who created them still wants control over them, and worst of all, Mena realizes that through all her pain, all her tears, the world of men has not changed. There is no more time to hope for the best. The girls know they are in a battle for their lives, a war for their very existence.
The girls of Innovations Academy have sharpened their sticks to fight back, they have fought for justice with blood from their razor hearts. And now, the girls will choose their true nature…and how they define their rebel souls.”
An explosive beginning to this story brought me right back to the action, despite that it’s been around a year since I read Book 2. I loved how the author brought us up to speed with what was happening and who everyone was without a massive infodump. I continued with cautious optimism.
Mena and the others’ plans fall apart when investors start dropping dead around them, around the time each investor kidnaps each girl. This is something of a mystery, though it’s fairly easy to work out who it is. Like the previous book, I had some trouble remembering which girl was who, though Annalise was a strong character in this installment, and we were reminded of the “bad” characters and what they had done.
I enjoyed the twists, many of which I didn’t see coming, and the last third of the book got super interesting! Story-wise, it was enjoyable, and one of the best things about the book. Another interesting thing I noticed was that I grew more assertive in between reading it; I stood up for myself more. Influence from Mena and her adventures, maybe…?
Like Razor Hearts, there were some parts that didn’t sit well with me (remarks on vegetarianism, more comments on how violent men are, white people are priveleged), though I do appreciate that Mena was completely against violence, and the message came across several times that it wasn’t all men. Plus, this is a dystopian near-future about girls who have been genuinely abused; it’s a sort of exaggerated version of our reality.
The biggest problem with Rebel Souls is the writing. “Snort a laugh” is used far too many times, and I found four typos in the book, rather a lot for a traditionally published novel that no doubt was seen by several editors. There were also too many cases of “I saw,” “I heard,” “I realized,” “begins to,” and “starts to,” which should be cut in the final edit and are among words you should remove from your manuscript. If I was her editor, I would have cut these out to avoid wordy writing. It pulled me from the story a couple of times.
Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the last of this trilogy. I still think Sharp Sticks is the best book by far, and I’d say Book 3 is the second best. Three and a half stars for Girls With Rebel Souls!