S.T.A.G.S by M A Bennett
Buy it here
From Amazon: Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.
A twisting thriller for fans of One of Us Is Lying and Pretty Little Liars.
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.
To her surprise Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ – an invitation 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.
Greer joins the other chosen students at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, and soon realises that they are at the mercy of their capricious host. Over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying reality that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…
I don’t know why I thought STAGS was a story taking place during a stag weekend and focusing on an all-male group of friends. I still kind of wish it was because I was looking forward to a male led YA; even if I did think it weird to be centred around an event leading to marriage. I guess it will teach me not to judge a book by its cover.
It’s strange that while I don’t feel the characters are underdeveloped, I never felt much of a connection to any of them; even film obsessed Greer.
It was a plot driven book and that could have an impact upon the character development. However, I never understood why Greer was there. Perhaps it was that she was an unreliable narrator but there never seemed to be any indication of an incident that put her in the firing line, unlike the other two students invited to the weekend.
The plot was well set out and sequenced. There were enough clues hidden throughout and the plot is what makes this a book you can’t put down.
The ending is brutal, but genius. Alas, because it’s a book that’s core is found within its plot, I’m reluctant to say any more.
It’s competent, easy reading. Both the dialogue and action is strong and the lack of distinction between the Medievals on the trip was deliberate I’m sure.
I would have liked the film references kept to a minimum. I’m a film studies graduate and I was overwhelmed. It didn’t add to the storytelling and it didn’t add to Greer’s character as it didn’t get explored beyond her inner monologue.