*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: M.A. Bennett
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Greer, a scholarship girl at a prestigious private school, St Aidan the Great School (known as STAGS), soon realizes that the school is full of snobs and spoilt rich brats, many of whom come from aristocratic families who have attended the institute throughout the centuries. She’s immediately ignored by her classmates. All the teachers are referred to as Friars (even the female ones), but the real driving force behind the school is a group of prefects known as the Medievals, whose leader, Henry de Warlencourt, Greer finds both strangely intriguing as well as attractive. The Medievals are all good-looking, clever and everyone wants to be among their circle of friends. Greer is therefore surprised when she receives an invitation from Henry to spend a long weekend with him and his friends at his family house in the Lake District, especially when she learns that two other “outsiders” have also been invited: Shafeen and Chanel. As the weekend unfolds, Greer comes to the chilling realization that she and two other “losers” were invited only because they were chosen to become prey in a mad game of manhunt.
I really do dislike having to give negative reviews, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. I really didn’t enjoy Bennett’s S.T.A.G.S. I’d hoped I would, but the more I got into the book, the more unrealistic and far fetched it seemed. I love when new worlds are built–there are endless possibilities–and authors can really do a lot to suck you into their worlds and to convince you of the setting as reality. The reader can suspend disbelief and accept the world in a truly well-written tale. Unfortunately, at least for me, that wasn’t the case.
S.T.A.G.S. is meant to be a suspenseful and thrilling story, with an element of horror. The world of privilege that the reader is brought into is tainted by centuries long family secrets of torture, abuse, and even murder. The plot is easy to guess, perhaps simplifies for a younger intended audience. The story so obviously shouts “THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE SINISTER” in a way that takes away from the eeriness of the setting and draws attention to the mystery and impending doom. It left no surprises and left me feeling pretty disconnected from the story as a whole.