Book Review: S.T.A.G.S (M. A. Bennett)
* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: August 10th 2017
Summary (from Goodreads):
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…
I was really intrigued by the blurb of this book, and with comparisons to The Hunger Games I had to read it. While it was good, it didn’t quite hit the right notes for me.
Greer is on scholarship to S.T.A.G.S, a posh boarding school where she doesn’t quite fit in. When she receives a mysterious invitation for huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ she jumps at the chance to make friends with the most popular kids in school. But as the weekend goes on, it’s clear there’s something more sinister going on.
My problem with this book was that the suspense just wasn’t there. Right from the beginning, Greer says (MINOR SPOILER ALERT!) that she and her two friends are murderers. Straight away I knew that they all survived the weekend, even if one or more of the villains didn’t. It ruined a lot of the suspense to me as I knew they’d all come out okay.
In terms of huntin’ shootin’ fishin’, I was also disappointed in the way these turned out. I thought it’d be a lot more dramatic but it all felt relatively tame to me. Obviously, in real life terms it would be pretty scary, but when you’re expecting something a bit more Hunger Games-esque it’s a bit disappointing.
The reveal of why the posh kids do what they do was also disappointing. Their motivation was predictable and obvious. Everything felt a bit dumbed down and obvious, and it made me dislike the characters for not figuring things out sooner. Speaking of which, the ending was so frustrating: it was so obvious what was going on and the fact that they went along with things as if everything was solved was really irritating.
There were some nice scenes in this and I enjoyed Shafeen’s character, but overall it just wasn’t quite right for me.