REVIEW ✧ SAWKILL GIRLS

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“Girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

☆☆☆☆

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

This was a weird book. This was a weird and dark book. I very much enjoyed this weird and dark book. I discovered this book so many months ago and it immediately went onto my TBR because it sounded like something that was going to be simply outstanding. I can’t say that it reached the outstanding level for me personally, but I still really enjoyed the book. There’s honestly something about Claire Legrand that I love so much, whether it’s her story ideas or her writing, the tales she weaves or the characters she creates, and I know that she’s an author I’d love to continue to read as long as I can. Sure, I had my issues with Furyborn but I liked it enough that I want to keep going and I feel like with Sawkill Girls it just solidified how much I enjoy her as an author. This book was such a nice change from what I’ve been reading recently and I’m very glad that it got published and, ultimately, that I decided to pick it up.

Just out of the safety and goodness of my heart, I will be enacting a SPOILER ALERT here because there are some specific things I need to bring up about the book that might potentially spoil it. So yeah, be careful.

THE GOOD

  • First and foremost, this book is feminist in every sense. Sure, you can look at a book with three females as the main protagonists and be like “hey, this is feminist!” and you’re potentially right, but that’s not what I mean here. When I say this is a feminist book I mean that it’s one that is meant to empower girls, to show them the kind of power and strength they’re capable of, and that they are not the weaker and more vulnerable sex that men think us to be. There’s this very important part near the end of the book, right before the big battle, where the Hand of Light goes on and on about how the girls need to sacrifice themselves and talk about how it’s always been girls, how the men must be protected, blah blah blah. It’s the kind of conversation that sets feminists aflame because let’s be real: men don’t need to be protected, especially the men in this story. But it’s also here that our three girls, Marion, Val, and Zoey, really come together and truly tap into their power rather than playing into these men’s hands. They show that they’re not some pieces in this game or ritual that can be controlled and that their destinies should not be decided by a group of men (and by group, I mean cult). I appreciate that more and more these days we’re getting books like this where girls are no longer being cut down, regardless of the kind of girl they are, and are rather coming together and showing how great and amazing girls really are. The big part in this legend/ritual of defeating The Collector is that the three girls not only sacrifice themselves to him but that they must fight each other first and while pitting women against each other has been the typical trope/response throughout history, not just in books, I admire how Legrand started with this but then had her characters realize that they didn’t need to do this in order to defeat him. It’s like partial social commentary, partial plot and character development, and all kinds of awesome.
  • There’s been a lot of improvement in diversity within YA in the last couple years and this book is no different, but in addition to some racial diversity there was much needed sexual diversity and really shows how important it is to include all kinds of representation in books. The character Zoey is a great character because not only is she black but she’s shown to be asexual, something I know I’ve never seen in YA before, let alone done by a popular YA author. It was interesting not only to have an asexual character but to actually see multiple discussions with various characters about the orientation and what it actually means. And I think it’s really admirable that Legrand put her asexual character in a very loving relationship and normalized how someone like Zoey can still have a partner and be loved, regardless if she has sex or not. There’s also the relationship between Marion and Val, which I’ll talk about in a bit, that also put a rare spotlight on F/F relationships in YA. I’m very proud that Legrand used her platform and wrote these characters and relationships to give them that much needed and well deserved representation.
  • At first, I wasn’t sure what I thought of Val but in the end, I became very proud of her and her entire redemption arc. Usually when we get characters like Val, especially with male characters, their past actions are excused immediately and all is forgiven and forgotten. But what was different with Val was how neither Marion or Zoey forgave her for what she did nor did they specify that they ever would. And what was really great, for me at least, was how Val herself never actually wanted them to forgive her because she didn’t think she deserved it. I loved that she was incredibly conscious of her actions and had such a self-awareness to her character. She never enjoyed what she was doing or how her life was planned and set out for her. I can admire that about her and I can really admire how she really believed that she needed to earn forgiveness and redemption rather than being simply handed it because she helped to defeat The Collector. I’m quite glad that Legrand changed my mind about Val and really made me appreciate her. She was a pleasant surprise.

THE BAD

  • Sadly, I cannot love everything about this book. The thing that probably bothered me the most was the relationship between Marion and Val but I just want to clarify it’s not because it was a F/F relationship. That’s not it at all. What bothered me was how these girls have maybe known each other for, what, a month? And they shared one meaningful conversation, one kiss, and had sex once, and are all of a sudden in love with each other? That’s not how relationships and love typically works…..right? Or at least, in all of the good romances that I’ve read and loved, there needs to be a lot more substance than that for it to qualify as love. I’m happy for them and I absolutely support them but I just wish there was more buildup and substance before we jumped straight into love.
  • This might not actually be a bad point but the first bit of the book was super weird because you literally have no idea what’s going on or what anything means. It’s great writing on Legrand’s part because there’s so much ambiguity that you HAVE to keep reading to see what the hell is actually happening, but it also might be something that causes others to put the book down. I’m not one of those people, but it could happen so that’s why it’s going in the bad category.
  • The ending was mean and made me want more. Goddammit.

THE BOTTOM LINE

  • This is definitely a weird, dark and borderline creepy book but it’s written so beautifully and well that it’s one that is impossible to put down. Not only is there much needed representation but there’s such a feminist message that it’s a book that I think everyone should read and love. If this book doesn’t make you proud to be a girl then I don’t know what will.

BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Sawkill Girls
Author: Claire Legrand
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Pages: 447 (Hardcover)
Goodreads

Until next time,

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What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!

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