A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows how the rich and powerful are treated differently by the media and justice system than regular folks are. Standing up to abusers and injustice is hard but can bring about real change.
When you know better, you do better. Face down injustice, even when that's scary. Silence in the face of oppression is the same thing as complicity. Working and compromising with others can be difficult but teaches you to be flexible, to have an open mind. Trust is the basis of all relationships.
Positive Role Models
Mena is a good, faithful friend. She doesn't always make the right decisions, but she leads with her heart. The girls all have one another's backs. Jackson and Quentin take enormous risks for their friends and are strong allies. All the main characters risk their lives fighting to expose the people behind the academy. In terms of representation, Sydney is Black, and Brynn and Marcella are gay. All other characters present as White and heterosexual.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of violence. Two boys are kidnapped. Several murders, by beating, stabbing, strangling, poisoning. A boy viciously punches and kicks a girl, trying to kill her. Dead bodies discovered. Discussions of emotional and physical abuse of young women.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Relationships and dating figure into the plot, so there's discussion of love and attraction. A few scenes of kissing and mild making out. Couples stay together in the same room a few times.
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Occasional strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "hell," "ass," "damn," "d--k,", "God," and "a--hole."
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Products & Purchases
A few brands and media mentioned for scene setting, including Netflix, Hershey's Kisses, Tesla, Coke, Campbell's Soup.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult sips wine in one scene.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.