S.T.A.G.S by M. A. Bennett


S.T.A.G.S by M. A. Bennett

Expected Publication: August 10th 2017 by Hot Key Books

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

A twisting thriller for fans of Looking for Alaska and The Hunger Games

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from Hot Key Books via Netgalley. This in no way influences my opinion.

When I saw this book on Netgalley and read what it was about, I just had to request it. The blurb instantly drew me in and I love reading these twisty cat and mouse kind of books. However, whilst I was expecting to love it, I just didn’t. I feel like this book fell short in a lot of areas and I just did not enjoy myself as much as I thought I would reading this.

From the very first pages, we already know what is going to have happened by the end of the book, to who it is going to happen and who did the doing. This completely took away from the mystery surrounding the book and the blood sports and the people who we were meeting because I already knew what was going to happen. As soon as I got to know the characters a little more, the book became completely predictable and I really struggled to actually continue reading at times.

I also really struggled to like out MC, Greer. She won a scholarship to a prestigious, private school (there is only one scholarship given out per year to a student from a normal school) and I feel like she acted really really stupid throughout the whole book. Like, I literally wanted to reach into the book and smack some sense into her because there were some really obvious signs of stuff going on that she just completely missed. We are told about how intelligent she is etc. but I just wanted to shake her throughout most of the book. Even when she knew what was going on, she still questioned everything after a few words from Henry because he was “Oh so chamring” (this vibe about Henry not coming over to the reader at all). Again with the shaking.

The “Medievals” also all really bugged me. I don’t feel like any of their voices stood out and I wasn’t getting the vibe that I was supposed to be getting from Henry. I also feel like the ending didn’t fit with anything that we were told about them. I feel like they would have done other things or maybe sorted out the issue a different way.

A huge issue I had with this book was the ending. There was a new aspect added to the book about 85% of the way in that I feel wasn’t really explained very well and should have been introduced much earlier so that we could have gotten used to it being part of the story a bit earlier. The ending and the solution was pretty rushed and it was also left open in a way that could mean a book 2 is coming – but it was also ended in a way that I can’t see another book coming because of the ages of our MC’s. So, I’m confused, really.

I think the only aspect I really liked about this book was Shafeen – he was the smartest person there and thank goodness he was there because I probably would have DNFed this book without him. He was a no nonsense, save the day kind of guy, who wouldn’t have even been there if Greer hadn’t gone. Hey ho. I would have liked to have seen more of the ship that was setting sail in this book, because I don’t feel like I saw enough of them and the relationship/the way it grew to actually ship them, but it is a cute concept.

All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this book. I was expecting so much more, but I was left annoyed with the MC and wishing that the certain aspects of the plot had been revealed either later or earlier. I gave this book 2/5 stars.