Hi guys, today I’m having a Guest Post done. I’ve never been a part of this before and couldn’t be more excited to have Sammie @ Bookshelves and Biros post on here. Without further ado, I give you Sammie. 😊
Hey! I’m Sammie and I’m a reluctant adult who grew up in a small town in South East England with plenty of dogs and a golden snitch reading light. Avid tea drinker, proud Gryffindor and enormous nerd; I read and review lots of fantasy, contemporary YA, dystopia, sci-fi and the occasional crime novel over on my blog. My favourite authors are J.K. Rowling, Holly Bourne, Patrick Ness, Cassandra Clare, Sarah J. Maas and Jodi Picoult (to name but a few) and my all-time favourite book (exluding Harry Potter, obviously) is Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. Come and say hi to me at bookshelvesandbiros.wordpress.com! 👋
Review: S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett
When Greer MacDonald is awarded a scholarship to prestigious private academy, St Aidan the Great School (S.T.A.G.S) she’s both astonished by the luxurious lifestyle of the other pupils and excited that she might have a chance to be part of it.
However, after being marked as an outsider with a Coronation Street accent and no money, Greer spends her first term isolated and miserable until the wealthiest boy in the school, Henry de Walencourt, sends her an invite to spend half-term huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ with the popular kids (“Medievals”) at his ancestral family home.Joining Greer and the Medievals are fellow outcasts (“Savages”), Shafeen and Nel. Together, it doesn’t take them long to realise that this isn’t going to be the luxurious half term break they hoped As the blood sports and banter take a dangerous turn, will Greer, Shafeen and Nel make it out of Longcross Manor alive?
The story is fast paced, and it had that ‘unputdownable’ feeling that I always look for in a thriller. There was great description, intriguing mystery elements and an exciting new take on the British boarding school experience (Hogwarts this ain’t) and a three section structure which let the story flow nicely. As an animal lover, it was tough to get through the hunting scenes, but where they appeared they were well-researched and realistic, without stepping into being overtly graphic or gratuitous.
I was really taken in by the premise of S.T.A.G.S, but unfortunately, the book never really capitalises on its promise. It lacks the punch and depth that would make it a really unique read, and I think that it’s mostly down to the characters. I never fully understood the motivations of the Medievals, and their characterisation was very surface level – beyond being wealthy, beautiful and prejudiced, I didn’t really get a sense for what made them tick or what their motivations were for doing what they were doing. There were six of them in total, but aside from Henry, they were so one dimensional that it was hard to tell them apart, especially where the girls were concerned. I also found the dialogue the Medievals used to be totally ‘over the top’ I’m pretty sure millennials (even those born in vast country estates with private lakes) don’t seriously say things like ‘old chap’ and ‘gosh’ anymore. Where the language was meant to show the differences between Henry’s gang and Greer, Nell and Shafeen, it just turned them into a parody of the British upper class that we’ve seen many times on TV and in film.
Greer was a decent narrator, even though she did a few things which came off as incredibly dim for a smart scholarship student. A northerner and an uber film buff, she added a much-needed sense of normalcy to the story. I liked her (and I loved the film references), but she lacked the real depth she needed for me to worry about her, which is a shame because this book hinges on the reader worrying about and rooting for Greer. Nell and Shafeen were interesting characters, and I would have really liked to have some chapters from their perspectives so I could get to know them a bit better.
If you’re looking for a pacey, fun mystery read then I’d highly recommend gathering up your huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ gear and getting your teeth into S.T.A.G.S. It’s not a revolutionary book, but what it lacks in great characters it makes up for with tension and a nice little twist at the end. A great premise, slightly off-kilter execution (no pun intended).
Publisher: Hot Key Books
I hope you guys enjoy reading this as much as Sammie and I had working on it. 💕💕💕😘