This review is spoiler-free!
S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: January 30th 2018 by Delacorte Press
Format: Hardcover, 296 pages
Find it here: Goodreads || Book Depository
There’s no point hunting if there’s no kill.
At St. Aidan the Great School, or S.T.A.G.S., new things–and new people–are to be avoided. Unfortunately, Greer MacDonald, token scholarship student, is very much a new person. She has just transferred to S.T.A.G.S., and finds herself ignored at best and mocked at worst by the school’s most admired circle of friends, the Medievals.
So imagine Greer’s surprise when this very group invites her to an exclusive weekend retreat at the private estate of the parents of their unofficial leader, Henry de Warlencourt. It’s billed as a weekend of “huntin’ shootin’ fishin’,” and rumor has it that the invitee who most impresses the group will be given the privilege of becoming a Medieval themselves.
As the weekend begins to take shape, however, it becomes apparent that beyond the luxurious trappings–the fancy clothes the maid lays out on Greer’s bed, the elaborate multicourse dinners held in the Great Hall–there are predators lurking, and they’re out for blood. . . .
So I admit that I picked this one up from the library solely based on the cover (I didn’t buy it, though, so I’m learning! Kind of!) and knew absolutely nothing about it (I even thought the narrator was going to be male and was caught off guard when they weren’t, that’s how little I knew), but, really, that’s how I roll with many of the books I read. It’s not unusual.
I also admit, however, that I was a little put off by the ratings it received from Goodreads once I tacked it onto my “currently reading” list and it popped up with a less-than-encouraging rating. I needn’t have worried; I ended up really enjoying the book. But man that really puts a little bit of worry into your reading when you see that.
I knew the book was going to have something to do with killing, obviously, but aside from that I was going in pretty blind. Surprise surprise, when they tell you someone’s going to be killed, they mean it. Yeah, it’s obvious who (or, it was to me, but I’m obviously not going to say who since this is spoiler-free), and I was a little disappointed in being right in the end, but I did have my fair share of doubt at moments when the characters had their moments to shine.
It wasn’t quite the thriller/mystery part that got me, actually, but rather learning with Greer what the Medievals were like, along with all the aspects of hunting and such. I know nothing about hunting, shooting, or fishing, so as Greer was taught everything happening to her, I was learning too, and honestly those parts were what kept me up at night like, “Okay, one more chapter and then I’ll sleep.”
I will say the ending dragged some without me understanding why it wouldn’t just end when everything had (supposedly) been resolved, but once the final chapter wrapped up I understood why we had been given all the extra information and scenes we had been. If there’s a sequel in store, I’d like very much to have if, if you don’t mind.
All in all, good book despite the ratings, and I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I was expecting to. It wasn’t fantastic, but it was pretty good, and I’d give it a go despite what ratings you might see.
Thanks for reading!