I do love a thrill. I love an adventure. I love the high-stakes, the heart pounding panic of what will happen next! What?! What?! What?! I get a lot of that from fantasy. Lots of epic battles and plans that go awry!
Now, I don’t usually expect thrill from contemporary. I usually look for the warm fuzzy feels and drama. But when reading a contemporary-thriller you have to expect less warm fuzz and more of that heart-pounding-my-goodness-what-is-going-on???? feeling.
Which I definitely experienced.
S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett
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.
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This book releases January 30th! Drop by your local bookstore or library to check it out!
*I received a free digital copy from the publisher on Netgalley, which does not in any way influence my opinion!*
Well. Well. I enjoyed this book very, very much. You guys know that thriller (like scary-dark thriller) is just not my thing. (I am a scaredy cat) But when I do make an exception and brace myself for some good ol’ thrill, I hope that it will crush my expectations and make me crave more of this genre.
**Plus this had the most gorgeous cover I just had to request it!! **
What I Liked:
Greer: I found her to be a very interesting. She had spent the first half of the school semester as a misfit and shunned, scholarship kid. She basically had zero friends, meaning social life was at an all time low and getting an invite to an exclusive vacation at the richest/most beautiful popular boy’s house was the best thing that happened to her in a long time. Or was it??
Anyways…I really did enjoy Greer as a narrator and MC in this book. She was quirky and intuitive. She was also foolish and at one point I really want to knock her outside of the head. But she redeems herself! I absolutely loved that she brought up references to the films she and her dad loved to watch and how she inserts her personality and likes into the narration of the story. It really showed off her nerdy and quirky self and her grand ability to make connections and put two and two together!
Shafeen: Although he is not in most parts of the story, he is still very much a present. And when he is there, he is there. He shut down those racist, rich white kids so many times with such class. *applause, applause* Every word that came out of his mouth, priceless. Every move he made turned tables.
Other characters...There was also Nel, who had it pretty rough in a Gatsby style. She was of new money and the white rich kids did not appreciate people who were not of old money!
So then there are The Medievals a.k.a the white, rich (psycho) kids who brought down their wrath on the previous three characters mentioned. I wasn’t thinking of mentioning them because I really hated them, so let’s just say I enjoyed hating them very much.
The Blood Games:
I have never been hunting, shooting or fishing. Blood sports are really just not my thing. The Medievals version of Huntin’ Shootin’ Fishin’ really is not my style either…let’s emphasize the blood shall we. I’m not meaning to intend that this book was filled with gore and washed in blood every few pages because it wasn’t. It was a very bloody book in that these sports fostered danger, elevated the stakes and made the characters act in ways that were feral and wild. I really enjoyed the twist of the games and how they brought characters together and wreaked havoc too.
The Narnia References are in Full Force:
Okay so this isn’t really about the book, but hey! It’s important to me. I got like ten references to Narnia. First it was just a comparison to Prince Caspian then it was full blown, referring to the movie and talking about discovering secret worlds, finding magical apartments and…and…and.. I freaked out a little. I was just so excited. Trust me this book references lots of films, as that Greer’s favourite thing, so seeing my favourite movie/book referenced gave me all the feeeeeeeeellllllllllssssss!
*Plus LWW ends with the Pevensies chasing a White Stag…so it’s fitting that the movie be referenced :)*
Greer was retelling the story to us. It’s that kind of thriller, where the reader goes in and they are given this mini-introduction, so they have a foggy idea of how the book is going to end or where the direction of the story it headed. Then as Greer tells you the story you start picking up on things, connecting some dots and predicting events that just might happen. I especially loved it when Greer would add in her own little comments about what was happening and how she should have acted differently. Especially when she was in her more foolish nature, narrator Greer would take a side note just to point out how dumb she was being.
Perhaps “The World” is the wrong title, because this book took place in England. Not some foreign fantastical land. Still…the world was very different. We get a glimpse into the white, privileged, upper class life with a medieval twist. A literal medieval twist, these kids not only called themselves Medievals, but lived through that mantra. They avoided having too many modernities like the internet, phones, and most other electrical appliances and they engaged in traditional sports; hence Huntin’ Shootin’ Fishin’.
What really struck me about this world though, was experiencing the consequences of the power and privilege bestowed upon these teenagers that were almost lethal. They controlled everything and everyone. They got away with everything they did. And it’s not a far fact from how it is in real life. How far money and power can take you. How much money rules the world and the extent to which it can bend the will of a person. Scary stuff.
The gif is enough to summarize.
What I Disliked:
It Was Not As Twisty As I Was Hoping?:
There were twists trust me and some of them I saw coming. This really stems from the very beginning of the book and how Greer introduces the problem. I already knew going in that deaths would be inevitable and I was kind of thinking that everyone was going to die. And while I don’t mean to sound sadistic, one person died and it was a little anti-climatic. You have an idea of who dies and why they die and who kills them. So I felt that the intro given by Greer gave too much and it took away from the reader.
Overall, it was a great book. For a non-thrillerish gal I thoroughly enjoyed it very much. It was fun, fast, and quite a ride. It makes you think about the consequences of money and privilege and also the effect of living in a world where everything is on the internet. The ending was a bit cliff-hanger like. I mean it did open up the possibility of a sequel, but I think it would be best to leave this as a stand alone and let the readers wonder and imagine how that could possibly be resolved.
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Recommend: Yes! Especially if your not always that into the thrills, but your in the mood for a little thrill!!
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you good at guessing endings? What are some of your favourite thriller/mystery books? I need recommendations after all!