S.T.A.G.S., by M. A. Bennett, Delacorte Press, Jan. 30, 2018, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
If you’re in the mood for a young adult psychological thriller featuring the socially elite, then S.T.A.G.S. might be a good option.
Greer MacDonald was happy at her old school, but when the opportunity to attend St. Aidan the Great School, aka STAGS, came up, it was a no brainer. The prestigious school hearkens back to the Middle Ages and caters to some of the greatest bloodlines in Europe.
Greer is excited to make a go of STAGS, but from the beginning she’s treated as an outsider. At a school where tradition is valued above all else, a scholarship student sticks out like a sore thumb.
Greer quickly finds herself at the mercy of the Medievals — the teenagers who seemingly rule the school. Though they mostly act like Greer is invisible, she’s not immune to their mockery as well.
With all their supposed hatred, Greer can’t help but be surprised when the Medievals send her an invitation to an exclusive weekend retreat at the private family estate of their unofficial leader, Henry de Warlencourt.
Greer should never have accepted the invitation. She should have seen who the Medievals were from the beginning. But she never could have guessed how far these supposed bastions of society were willing to take their little game of “huntin’ shootin’ fishin’.”
Reading S.T.A.G.S. is like watching a train wreck: You know nothing good can come of what’s happening, and yet you can’t look away, either.
It’s a little hard to imagine why Greer wants to be accepted by the Medievals. She’s openly disgusted by their behavior, and yet she’s still intrigued. The opulence and wasteful way in which the teens take advantage of it is distasteful from the start. I had a hard time feeling anything but contempt for them from the beginning.
Greer comes across as a smart but incredibly naïve young woman who finds her voice in just the nick of time. The two teens who join her at the retreat are equally flawed but likeable enough.
Though some elements of S.T.A.G.S. are completely predictable, author M.A. Bennett still manages to provide enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.
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