I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett
Published by Hot Key Books on August 10th 2017
Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.
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...
Review: Greer McDonald is not finding her new school easy. St Aidan The Great boarding school is one of the oldest and most exclusive schools in the country and as a scholarship student she’s struggled to fit into the privileged, elite world it presents. Then an invitation arrives to spend part of half-term with the most influential, important group in S.T.A.G.S, the Medievals, and Greer thinks things are looking up. The story however begins with Greer looking back on what led to that weekend and calling herself a murderer.
I didn’t quite know what to expect going into this book and I wasn’t sure if the book would 100% be for me. That said, I love the boarding school setting (I have ever since I was young and read Enid Blyton books which completely romanticised it – I’m sure I’m not alone there) and I also, as many of you know, really love a good crime story and thriller. Therefore this book had a lot to offer me and I wanted to read it. While I went into the book without many preconceptions, I came out at the end having really enjoyed the book and found it a really pleasant surprise.
Bennett’s debut is the type of book you cannot put down. I read it it in just one sitting as the slowly creeping sensation of doom came out and I wanted to know just what had Greer done and just how it had unfolded. It’s compulsive and compelling and as it progresses, more and more tense and you read the book wishing you could stop some characters. The world the book inhabits is almost ruleless and the central clique within it at first seemed almost absurd (with some of their style and general choices) which really made me unsure but I am very glad I continued with the book.
Greer is a well developed character; smart, opinionated, defiant and herself. I liked that she and the book weren’t set in London, where so many YA books seems to be set but in the countryside instead. Not only that Greer felt imperfect, flawed and more realistic without the reader’s need to root for her being compromised.
Bennett deftly leaves the story open for a sequel and I would most definitely be happy to dive back into this world and Greer’s story. Either way, I’m intrigued to see what M A Bennett writes next.