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Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: February 13th, 2018

304 Pages

Synopsis: At St. Aidan the Great School, or S.T.A.G.S., new things—new people—are to be avoided. Unfortunately, Greer MacDonald, token scholarship student, is very much a new person. She has just transferred to S.T.A.G.S., and finds herself being ignored at best and mocked at worst by the school’s most admired circle of friends, the Medievals. 

So imagine Greer’s surprise when this very group invites her to an exclusive weekend retreat at the private estate of the parents of their unofficial leader, Henry de Warlencourt. It’s billed as the weekend of “huntin’ shootin’ fishin’,” And rumor has it that the invitee who most impresses the group will be given the privilege of becoming a Medieval themselves.

As the weekend begins to take shape, however, it becomes apparent that beyond the luxurious trappings—the fancy clothes the maid lays out on Greer’s bed, the elaborate multi course dinners held in the Great Hall—there are predators lurking, and they’re out for blood.

I have to confess that while reading S.T.A.G.S. my overwhelming feeling was one of frustration. In theory, all the elements of this story should have worked. An English secretive society of elites who host an annual weekend retreat every year, inviting a few “inferior” classmates, holding out the promise that one of them may be chosen to be part of their group? Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately the premise was much more interesting than the actual story.

The first problem for me were the characters. Despite my best efforts, I could not connect with any of them. Greer did not fit the role of your typical outsider except that she was a scholarship student. She’s extremely intelligent, yet time and again shows a lamatable lack of judgement. At first her referencing classic films was enjoyable, until it started happening almost every other sentence. That grew old rather quickly. Her on again, off again, romantic feelings toward Henry, made no sense, especially once she discovered what he and his friends were up to. And the other characters were just two-dimensional and unremarkable.

The plot itself started out interestingly enough, but didn’t have nearly enough action until the last few chapters of the book. While I liked the history that’s revealed about S.T.A.G.S., the ending left me confused as to their motivations. I can’t really explain without including spoilers, but there seemed to be a big set-up, but the reveal left me disappointed.

S.T.A.G.S. ending leaves open the possibility that there may be a sequel, but if so, I don’t think I’ll be continuing with it. Between the uninspiring characters, numerous plot holes, and not enough action, there’s just not enough there to tempt me. That said, this has received many 4-5 star reviews on Goodreads, so if the premise intrigues you, please check it out for yourselves.