Claire's Reviews > S.T.A.G.S

S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett
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did not like it

** spoiler alert ** Well, this is just a train wreck from start to finish.

I was really looking forward to this book. I'd waited until I had nothing pressing to do and could just curl up and enjoy it without any distractions. I was so hopeful. Rich kids being hunted, what could be better than that, huh?

Let's start at the beginning...

Greer is not a rich kid. She's won a scholarship to STAGS, this super prestigious school set in the beautiful Lake District. Greer is an outcast because she's not rich. I can get behind that. Then she receives an invitation to spend the half term at one of the rich kids houses. Not just any rich kid though, this is Henry de Walencourt. He's the leader of the 'Medievals' - the super snotty rich kids that hate everybody else. She's ecstatic, she thinks it means she's going to become one of them. She's also totally dizzy. I hate her.

When she arrives at the manor house, she discovers that the other two guests are also misfits at her school. There's Chanel, who is rich, but oh-no! It's new money. Totally the wrong kind. And there's Shafeen, who's from India, and yes we're going to play the race card here. There are also all six of the snobby kids here.

Hunting: On the first day they go Stag hunting. At this point I will happily admit that all the hunting elements in this book are meticulously researched. Good job!
While the team are hunting the Stag, our heroine waxing on about how beautiful it is and how she wishes it didn't have to die. Then she's quite happy to be the one to pull the trigger at the end. That's right, people, she shoots the damn deer because the pretty rich boy asked her to.
About now we discover that Chanel is missing. Along with all the hunting dogs. About 50 dogs vanished and nobody notices anything until they lose Chanel. Of course not.
We find Chanel crouched in a cave opening to escape the frenzied pack. Because, you know, dogs are bigger than 17 year old girls and can't fit.
Long story short, it turns out Henry had slipped some Anise seeds into her pocket to attract the dogs to chase her. Because dogs would turn away from a dead stag to chase a girl for some seeds. Then they all go home and have dinner. Fun!

Shooting: Shooting pheasants is the order of the day, and because we're all looking at the sky, nobody sees who is was when poor Shafeen gets shot. He says he'd be dead if he hadn't turned at the last moment and got shot in the arm instead. We all head home, and our misfits sneak into Shafeen's room and decide they are being hunted. Hooray!
They decide to snoop around the house in the dark, and find a series of hunting books in the library that documents that the de Walencourt's have been hunting people since the middle ages. They take a bunch of photos for evidence and decide to formulate a plan for tomorrows fishing trip.

Fishing: Greer knows it's her turn so she puts on a wet suit - handy it was just lying around right? - and sets out fishing with Henry. He pushes her off the boat and then the snobs all start throwing fishing hooks at her. She manages to swim over to a waterfall, climb to the top while being chased by Henry, have a three page soliloquy about Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes - seriously, I'm not making this up - before revealing that Chanel has been filming Henry's confession all along on her phone. He then does the obvious thing and throws himself off the waterfall to his death. Obviously.

Then we all go home and lie to the police about what happened, because who wants to tell them the truth, right?

The kids all go back to school when they realize - hang on! - it's a cult! And everyone in the school is in on it! With all the evidence they have, they should do something about it, right? Shall we tell parents? Nope. Police? Nope. Media? Nope. Let's tell the headmaster because he has, and I quote - a Santa Claus twinkle in his eye.
The headmaster is sympathetic. He fires the teachers in on it. Makes the school a better place! Yay, happy ending. Nobody got justice or anything, but Henry's dead, so happy ending?

Prologue: Until that is the Stepford Twins come to school. They're Henry's cousins and they're taking a lovely young black girl home with them this half term to carry on the tradition. Nooooooo! Oh, and the headmaster was in on it too! All along! Nooooooooo!

The end?

Seriously? I've not even touched on some the things I really hate about this book yet. Oh no, I've not even started.

Let's start with the fact that it ruins films all the way through. Whenever the main character sees something she has to relate it to a movie. Okay, this is sort of character building, I guess. But not only does she talk about the movie, she spoils the ending. Literally every time, with loads of films! It's not fair!

Then there's this lovely snippet: - The last thing we needed would be for some hillbilly Lake District community to start doing weird witchcraft and setting fire to us in some straw effigy[sic]...
Now, I actually live in the Lake District and I have found this to be the most insulting piece of writing I've ever read! Does the author really think we're all yokels here? Wow. I'm actually furious, and deeply, deeply hurt by this insult insinuation.

Our main character is wholly unlikable. She's supposed to be nice, but she refers to one of the house keepers at the manor as a 'miserable hag'. The poor woman hasn't even done anything wrong! The only reason Greer doesn't like her is because on the first night at the manor Greer called her husband, and now assumes the woman hates her for it.

Then there's the problem with Robert Downey Jr.
For some reason our heroine, and I can only assume the author, really hate him.
Not only does she go on and on about what a terrible movie Sherlock Holmes is, she pointedly says she wouldn't have cast Downey, and repeats three times what an awful movie it was. Sad Robert. Don't worry Robert, I still love you!

When Greer returns to the manor in a wet suit and lies to the police about how Henry died, nobody questions her.
Um, Miss? Why are you wearing a wetsuit? Why are you soaking wet and bleeding?

Then they all decide not to tell the police because they don't want to ruin the lives of the evil snotty kids who were trying to kill them. What?

No point heaping disgrace on the family just to make ourselves feel better. His dad's obviously a shit, but his mum might be OK.

The actions of these five, they were undoubtedly cruel, but were they murderous?

I thought of the bother - questions, hassle, parents knowing, press knowing...

The Friars, it seems, are guilty too, but I do not know enough of the law to tell you with any certainty if they can still be prosecuted for crimes that took place almost fifty years ago.

Instead of ruining five young lives - and condemning their characters as wholly evil when they may now improve without the malign influence of their ringleader.

There are all direct quotes from the book! And these kids are supposed to be smart! Ugh!

And then the creme de la creme. The one thing that moved this book from strong dislike, to hate. This one line: Reader, I'd started going out with him.
At no point in the book had the main character broken the fourth wall before. She'd never addressed the readers. This is a blatant imitation of the famous line that closes Jane Eyre - Reader, I married him. How dare such a line be lifted from a work of literary genius and forced, kicking and screaming, into this train wreck of a novel? It's a travesty!

I'm sorry people, but I cannot hate this book hard enough. It's awful. Skip it, burn it and bin it. Read something worth your time. Read Jane Eyre.
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Reading Progress

September 20, 2017 – Started Reading
September 20, 2017 – Shelved
September 22, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Briana Everything about this. Yes. I agree with you 10000%. I hated this book beyond belief! Hands down the dumbest protagonist of any YA novel and my god those film spoilers. I wish I could block this book from my mind.

Emily Best this is the review i wish i could have written

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