Take me to school – D.O.G.S Review

M. A. Bennett is back with the S.T.A.G.S world again, this time bringing us D.O.G.S.

D.O.G.S is the second book in the S.T.A.G.S series and picks up immediately from where S.T.AG.S left off from.

You may remember that I had some thoughts about S.T.A.G.S – but the TL;DR version is that I found that S.T.A.G.S was okay – not perfect, has flaws, but good for a debut. The main character, Greer, is the biggest pain in the ass. If you wanna read my full review, you can do that here.

I was actually quite surprised when I found out that S.T.A.G.S was getting a sequel because, whilst it obviously has sequel-potential, it clearly could have stood by itself and been a stand-alone.

But now, on to D.O.G.S.

I found D.O.G.S to be enjoyable, just like S.T.A.G.S was, but there seemed to be something missing or sometimes even too much of something else that stopped it breaking through the ‘it was okay’ barrier. But having said that, D.O.G.S did one better than S.T.A.G.S (literally) for me, because it got 3 stars from me instead of the 2 that I gave S.T.A.G.S.

D.O.G.S has a bit more of a toe in the ‘fantasy waters’ than S.T.A.G.S did and part of that is because it was loosely based and surrounded by the (real life) lost play of Isle of the Dogs. But it also has elements of cults (duh, private school culture – amiright?) necromancy and witchcraft…yeah. But the big thing about all of the fantastical elements of the story is how much is real and how much is in Greer’s head? Basically, as much as D.O.G.S is a continuation of the S.T.A.G.S story – but yet it’s totally different.

D.O.G.S pack

Despite all of the fantasy aspects to D.O.G.S I felt like it was missing some of the adrenaline injections that S.T.A.G.S had. It picked up greatly in the third act of the book, (check me out, making a play reference and everything – Isle of the Dogs…ya know?) and whilst it was good, I’m not chuffed about having to wait until the 66% mark to get some tension and action.

I have to admit, I got a little confused about what this book was trying to really….do…or what it wanted to be.

The topic this time can be quite divisive. If you’re not into classical literature or Shakespeare or history of literature etc – this probably won’t be your thing and it’ll probably get old quick. But I actually really liked it.

Whilst we’re on the educational thing – D.O.G.S had a full glossary in the back, and thank goodness for it, because it’s a bit ‘wait, what?’ at times with the in-world terminology. It’s a little distracting to have to keep flicking back and forth – but at least there was a glossary there.

Unfortunately for me the two things that irked me so much about S.T.A.G.S are still prevalent in D.O.G.S. The first one I just need to let go of because it’s very clearly a personal preference, but it’s my review so I’m gonna say it. I said it in my S.T.A.G.S review and imma say it again here: There are far too many pop culture references again! We get it…she’s a film buff. But it kinda takes people out of the story if every other page we’re getting a pop culture reference.

The second issue I have, I’m still all about and yeah – sure, my opinion and others might not feel the same way – but I do. So here goes: Greer is the worst thing about this book (and the one before it).

D.O.G.S prospectus

Greer just isn’t ‘real’ to me. She can’t communicate at all – all of that drama between Shafeen and her was unnecessary and not needed. She just needs to communicate. She also jumps to conclusions all the way through the book – with both feet! But the biggest issue I have with her is her weird, messed up idea of what feminism is. I hated it in the first book and I’m really surprised that it made it into D.O.G.S considering I wasn’t the only reviewer who hated it in S.T.A.G.S – in fact I wasn’t even in the minority on that! A lot of people didn’t like it!

Oh well, different people like different things. And that’s ok.

But speaking of that – D.O.G.S was ‘okay’ for me. A 3 star read. I’ve accidentally made it sound like I didn’t like it – that’s not the case. I’m not closing the lid on the series, especially as it raised itself by a star compared to S.T.A.G.S – I’d be interested to see what a third book does.

Whilst D.O.G.S didn’t exactly do it for me, I think others would really enjoy it – especially if they are new to YA, or even just new to the YA that is a bit less contemporary. But for the seasoned vets like myself, it might be lacking a few things – or have too much of others like I said earlier.

But all in all, a solid 3 star exercise in escapism.

Also – as a little aside…I have to mention how AMAZING the promotional pack for this book was. The effort and time that has gone into the badge and prospectus is absolutely amazing and i just wanted to shout that out because it was kick ass!


D.O.G.S cover

Nine students.
Three bloodsports.
One deadly weekend.

A twisting thriller for fans of Looking for Alaska.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S.

Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants.

The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…


Do you want to go back to school? You can do that here with FREE worldwide delivery!

[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this review. I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions are honest and my own.

D.O.G.S tour


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