I’m a huge fan of horror movies. Anyone who knows me even remotely is aware of my love for the genre. In fact, I’ve written a couple of blog posts about my favorite horror movies and TV shows (read them here and here), and this is certainly not the first horror/suspense/thriller novel I’ve reviewed (check out my review of In a Dark, Dark Wood). So you can imagine how excited I was when I spotted the title Final Girls while browsing Fully Booked.
(For those not in the know, “final girl” is a common term or trope in horror movie – particularly slasher movie – parlance. It means the last girl left alive to confront the killer and either successfully escape or kill him.)
Quincy Carpenter’s life was torn apart on one fateful night. What was supposed to have been a weekend of fun celebrating her best friend’s birthday in an isolated cabin in the snowy woods turns into a veritable slasher movie, from which Quincy alone emerges alive.
Immediately, the media inducts her into a select club of women nobody wants to be a part of: the Final Girls, sole survivors of crazed, bloody rampages. There’s Quincy, whose friends died in Pine Cottage. There’s Lisa, wholost nine sorority sisters to the butcher knife of a deranged, revenge-seeking college dropout. And then there’s Sam, the only one to get out alive after a serial killer terrorizes the motel she works night shifts at.
Years later, Quincy thinks she’s moved on. She maintains a semblance of normalcy through a steady diet of Xanax; she’s got a caring boyfriend, Jeff; a beautiful apartment; a successful baking blog; and a supportive presence in Coop, the police officer who found her running in the woods, bleeding and incoherent, all those years ago.
Then suddenly, Lisa – seemingly the most well-adjusted of the Final Girls, having built for herself a career in psychology and counseling – is found dead in her home with her wrists slit. Quincy, is shocked, but her life is upended even more when Sam, the third Final Girl, turns up on her doorstep, and forces her to relive the worst night of her life. The night at Pine Cottage.
Someone wants the Final Girls dead. And it’s not clear if Quincy and Sam can stop them. To make matters worse, Quincy’s carefully put-together life seems to be falling apart, and even if she does survive this new threat, will she have anything to go back to after?
What I liked:
- Riley Sager’s writing is amazing. I felt like I was actually watching a horror movie playing in my head while I read this book. The descriptions of Pine Cottage, Sam’s erraticness, and Quincy’s slow spiral into self-doubt and semi-madness really brought me into the thick of things.
- I hated Quincy as a person, but I love her as a character. I’m sick of the perfect Final Girl who can do nothing wrong. Quincy, traumatized beyond all belief, refusing to deal with her issues in a healthy way, emotionally dependent, and addicted to Xanax is exactly the realistic horror movie sole survivor character I need.
- I had to read this in one sitting. Sager is just so great at drawing you in and making you want to find out more. Thanks to strategically placed flashbacks and the sudden revelation that the detectives in charge of Quincy’s case don’t believe she’s wholly innocent, you start to wonder if Quincy is as reliable a narrator as she makes herself out to be. With such a limited cast of characters, you’re just hungry to find out who the killer is.
What I didn’t like:
- The revelation of who the killer is felt anticlimactic. I sort of expected it, but usually in thriller/suspense/mystery novels, even though I usually begin to suspect who the killer is about halfway through the book, the reveal is still a treat to read. This one felt…off, somehow. I can’t for the life of me explain it. I do admit though this may be more down to me than it is the author.
4/5. A wonderfully suspenseful book that makes for a good addition to the world of thriller, suspense, and mystery novels!