Girls with Rebel Souls: Girls with Sharp Sticks, Book 3
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Girls with Rebel Souls is a futuristic thriller with strong feminist themes. This is the third book in Suzanne Young's Girls with Sharp Sticks series and is similar to the previous two books in terms of content and plot. This book can stand alone, but it will make a lot more sense if you've read the first two. The story presents big questions, such as how can we fix systemic societal problems like misogyny? What if the solution is just as bad as the problem itself? The characters are on a mission to find and expose the rich, powerful investors behind Innovations Academy, and they find themselves in many dangerous situations along the way. There's a lot of violence, including kidnapping, stabbing, and beatings. The characters commit and witness murders. The sexy stuff is limited to some kissing and mild making out, but couples spend the night together a few times. Characters use occasional strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch," and there's no alcohol or substance use, aside from one adult sipping some wine. The story offers discussion opportunities about the way women are viewed in society, working together toward a goal, settling differences, and ethically how far it's OK to go when righting a wrong.
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What's the Story?
GIRLS WITH REBEL SOULS picks up right where the previous book in the series, Girls with Razor Hearts, leaves off: with Mena grappling with the ethics of fighting abuse with more violence. This near-future thriller follows the exploits of the teens who are still on the run, working to find and expose the investors behind the sinister Innovations Academy. Mena's not sure she can do what it takes to stop the investors from continuing their experiments and exploiting young women, and this puts her at odds with friends who feel they have to stop these people by any means necessary, even if it means murder. The chase takes the teens from coast to coast and eventually back to the Colorado town where everything started, where they make some more startling discoveries. It seems other, unknown agents are on the same trail they are and have no issues resorting to extreme violence. Eventually, Mena and the others realize that taking down the corporation will not be enough to right the wrongs against women. It will be one step in a long, society-altering battle.
Is It Any Good?
This near-future thriller touches on important and thought-provoking feminist themes, but the plot fizzles and falls short on the actual thrills. Girls with Rebel Souls is very much like the two previous books in Suzanne Young's series, with the girls talking a lot about their lives and their missions but not actually doing much. Young tells the readers far more than she shows them, and all the endless, clunky dialogue bogs down the pace and plot. As with the previous books, the story provides an important look at how young women are often treated as disposable and insignificant. Readers also get a peek at the way rich and powerful men operate under different rules than the rest of us. Other important themes include the notion that being silent in the face of oppression is the same thing as complicity. Mena and the other girls have a complicated sisterhood, disagreeing on philosophy and tactics throughout the book. They learn that real life is much more complicated than life behind the academy walls. This is a good analogy for teens learning how to make their way in the world. Unfortunately, the dull pace, along with some plot holes and believability issues, leads to this series going out with a whimper rather than a bang.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how far characters go in stories to right wrongs, like the girls from Innovations Academy do in Girls with Rebel Souls. Can violence ever be justified? How far do you think you would go to stop true evil?
Do you think societies can change the way they treat certain groups, such as women and people of color? What needs to happen for real change to occur? And how long do you think it can take? Do small steps add up to big ones, or do giant overhauls seem to be the better approach?
How well do you work with others? Are you able to stand up for your ideas, or do you just go with the group?
- Author: Suzanne Young
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 23, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 23, 2021
Our Editors Recommend
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