Young Adult - Fantasy - General
258 Pages
Reviewed on 05/02/2021
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Author Biography

Christina Hagmann grew up in rural Wisconsin, climbing trees, swimming in creeks (pronounced cricks), and running amok. She began reading Stephen King in 5th grade and was hooked. That year she wrote her first short story, and she's been making up stories ever since. When not writing short stories and novels, Christina can be found spending time with her family, coaching, teaching English, and reading anything and everything.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Stratagem is a work of fiction in the fantasy genre. Aimed at young adults, it was penned by author Christina Hagmann. The book follows a young woman named Meda who has been kidnapped by a group of teenage boys, except that Meda isn’t a normal girl. She is a shapeshifter trained to infiltrate the lives of the global elite to provide intel for her handlers at the Agency. As her captivity goes on, she learns about the vendetta the boys have against the Agency and discovers an opportunity to decide what her future will be for herself.

Stratagem is a most engaging fantasy novel that fits well into the young adult sub-genre but can also be enjoyed by adult readers for its complexity and spirit. One of the things that I enjoyed was how imaginative and unique the plot was, setting itself apart from other books in the same genre by adding hints of mystery and thriller into the mix. Author Christina Hagmann is a master at crafting three-dimensional and interesting characters that are a joy to journey through the world with. Meda was a particularly interesting character to follow, and I really enjoyed the fact that she was a mimic and the impact this had on her narration. The world itself was crafted beautifully and was easy to envision, making you feel at times like you were part of the story yourself. Hagmann delivered a strong and consistent magic system that made sense and was easy to understand. I would not hesitate to recommend Stratagem to fans of the fantasy genre, or those looking for an action-packed story that will keep them on the edge of their seats.

Pikasho Deka

Stratagem is a young adult thriller written by Christina Hagmann. Meda is a seventeen-year-old shape-shifting Mimic. Mimics are people who can change their appearance into others at will. Blackmailed into working for a covert organization known as the Agency, Meda is kidnapped by three teenage boys named Aaron, Brody, and Dan during one of her missions. After a period of mutual distrust, Meda starts sympathizing with the objectives of her captors and develops a gradual liking for Brody. When she is introduced to a rival organization named the Opposition, they seek her help to stop the Agency from assassinating the President of the United States in exchange for rescuing her family and keeping them safe. But she stumbles upon a roadblock as the past comes back to haunt her.

Stratagem is an entertaining novel with a unique premise that fans of young adult books such as Divergent or movies like Jumper will enjoy in spades. Author Christina Hagmann moves the plot swiftly in unexpected ways that always keep the reader hooked to the pages. I found the characters easy to root for as they felt sympathetic and likable. I found myself deeply invested in the relationship between Meda and Brody and found the complexity of Aaron's character fascinating. I also enjoyed the camaraderie and banter between the boys, whose relationship dynamic felt like three brothers with distinct personalities. Stratagem felt like a breeze to read. I would recommend it to fans of superhero movies and readers who enjoy young adult novels.

Susan Sewell

Confronted with the disturbing reality of her organization's agenda, a young shape-shifter has to choose where her loyalties lie in the intriguing young adult novel Stratagem by Christina Hagmann. Meda inherited her mother's unique talent for altering her form into the image of another person. Because of her ability, Meda's mother was taken away by some men, and her family never sees her again. Concerned they would take Meda as well, her father cautions her to resist the urge to exercise her ability. However, in a moment of teenage impetuousness, Meda transforms into an older person to buy liquor. Sadly, she is caught in the act and turned in by someone she trusts. Now Meda is utilized by the Agency to infiltrate the government. Despite her aversion to her jobs, she must cooperate and complete her missions, or her family's lives are in jeopardy. In an unexpected turn of events, another group trying to undermine the Agency captures Meda. What do they want from her? Will she ever be free to live her life the way she wants?

Filled with dramatic and action-packed scenes, Stratagem by Christina Hagmann is a fascinating paranormal novel that puts a unique spin on shape-shifting. The story's body-altering aspect is original and distinctive as it doesn't follow the usual path of were-people. The protagonist, Meda, is relatable, and her shifting talent is quite unusual. With their ruthless methods, the Agency made excellent antagonists and perfect villains. However, I didn't discern much difference between the "good guys" and the "bad buys" tactics and intentions. Intense and engaging, it is a riveting fantasy novel that will thrill everyone from the ages of twelve to up to a hundred.