I loved the exciting and mysterious Girls With Sharp Sticks, and was greatly anticipating the sequel.
*Note: this review doesn’t have spoilers for Girls with Razor Hearts, but it might have spoilers for Book 1, Girls With Sharp Sticks. You have been warned!
“Make me a girl with a razor heart…
It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.
The girls enroll in Ridgeview Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.
And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.”
The book takes off from where the first book ended, with Mina and her friends fleeing the school grounds with Jackson and Quentin. It flows from one scene to the next fluidly enough, with engaging dialogue, though I had some trouble at first remembering which girl was who. This was partly my fault, as I read the first book a few years ago and didn’t reread it before picking up this one. The sequel did well in reminding readers with what had happened previously, which was great.
With the help of Leandra from Innovations Academy, they flee to a new state and blend into a private school, Ridgeview Prep, trying to track down the investors of Innovations Academy and get their revenge. However, their new school is also a hotspot of the abuse of girls. Perverted boys, sons of rich families, torment the female students with no consequences, and Mina and Sydney, the two girls who attend the school, want to bring them down and serve justice.
One thing that made me roll my eyes frequently in this book was the message of “nearly all men are violent, sexually abusive criminals.” Unlike Book 1, where Jackson and Quentin were good and the abusers at the school were “bad guys,” Book 2 pushes the idea that all men in society are either 1. Violent perverts or 2. Enablers.
Jackson and Quentin take a backseat in this story, especially Quentin; he only gets a couple of lines the whole book and isn’t seen again after the first few chapters. Jackson is weak and, of course, shouldn’t dare suggest he can actually help in any way.
The girls, of course, are angels. The boys at the school – not just one or two, but all except ONE guy – are animals who oppress and sexually abuse all of the poor, innocent girls at the school with zero consequences. The male teacher is a weakling who won’t punish or condemn the behaviour. Mina exclaims more than once at “how they cheer for violence” (cheering at a rugby match).
They even touched on racism (Sydney is African-American, and it’s suggested she’s treated differently because of this). It’s like the writer felt she had to tick all the boxes: men bad, the only black character oppressed too, girls good, girls strong, obligatory lesbian couple. It felt like she’d taken all the worst men in the world and put them on almost every male character. I imagined someone holding a gun to the writer’s head as she furiously scribbled, “I-” (Mina) “-condone her practice of safe sex,” (an internal thought when finding a student’s mother’s condom stash).
The story wasn’t entirely like this; there were some points where Mina was worried by the other women’s extreme views, saying how violence isn’t the answer to violence and that destroying men wasn’t the answer. But it still made me sigh at times. I appreciate this is a dystopian story, but the agenda was pushed so hard throughout that if I was a male reader, I’d honestly feel uncomfortable about the writer’s view of men.
The book had enough interesting twists and nice prose; I did finish it. But I feel like some details were skipped over – what was their living area like? What did Ridgeview Prep look like? There was a huge twist which should have had more of an impact, but it was so rushed it didn’t come as much of a shock as it could have. I’m not sure if the writer was in a hurry to finish this book, but I feel it could have benefitted from more details. But that’s just me.
I didn’t enjoy Girls With Razor Hearts half as much as I enjoyed Girls With Sharp Sticks, but it wasn’t a horrible book. I MIGHT read the third book as it’s a trilogy, but not if it’s going to be more of the same of poor oppressed females VS evil demonic perverted males.
Three stars for Girls With Razor Hearts!