My Rating: 4/5 – I loved the campy horror flick vibe of this book. It was the perfect blend of slasher film and psychological thriller with a memorable heroine we can all root for.
Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Synopsis, via RileySagerBooks.com: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
Loved it. I’m a lover of horror flicks that seem to know exactly how ridiculous they are and play on just this side of satirical and this book was the first book I read that was a wonderful version of that.
I’m gonna go ahead and date myself and compare this book to the movie Scream (I loved Scream, it opened up a whole new genre to me, as I’m sure many others of a certain age – or if you want to date yourself further, Halloween) but this book was more than that, it was more like the entire Scream franchise wrapped up into one single book – it had layers people! We have our heroine, Final Girl Quincy, and we get to travel back through her original horror story which is perfectly woven throughout this book and written in a way where you can just picture those classic slasher film shots and cast the characters in their classic horror movie roles, and we also get to see how that horror story ended and push ourselves through the layers of that afterstory and the ultimate mystery of her current horrifying reality all the while questioning just how adjusted and functional she really is.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book; I read it in 2 sittings and couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t earth shattering or eye opening, but it was an enjoyable way to spend my time. Final Girls was a guilty pleasure read in the best way possible.
What I liked:
- The way the original horror story, the reason Quincy is a Final Girl, is told throughout the book and not all at once; it was part of what kept me hooked and flipping pages as quickly as possible throughout most of the book.
- That it made me think of the aftermath of the heroines in these horror stories we are all familiar with, it made me think of how some people learn how to pick up the pieces of their lives, and some people don’t.
- The realness of the story of Quincy dealing with the press, both presently and after her original saga.
- The pace of this book. It was told at a perfect pace that had me both hooked and savoring the book all at the same time.
- That this book didn’t stop twisting. No spoilers here, but I definitely enjoyed the way it kept flipping on itself.
What I didn’t like:
Honestly, there wasn’t much I didn’t like.
- I did think this book was slightly predictable in a student-of-horror-movies kind of way, but like I said – that’s a little of what I liked about it too; it knows what it is.
- I was partly expecting more of a scare before picking this book up. I will say that while some books have kept me up at night, scared to fall asleep and succumb to the nightmares I know my mind has conjured up after reading them, I didn’t lose any sleep after this one at all. It didn’t invade my mind like some thrillers do.
I give this book 4/5 stars. This was a fun thrill ride, fun house of a read that kept me hooked the entire time. I know it was a horror story, but it was one I happily read with a smile on my face. It was perfect parts heroine story, fun scare and nostalgia to me. I didn’t give it a full 5/5 rating because its not a book that I think changed my life in any way, I’m not better for reading it and it didn’t really make the think about anything a little differently or put me in to another person’s shoes for a bit, I’m just a little happier for the time being after reading it 🙂 That’s why I put it in the guilty pleasure read column. I’m definitely happy that it is something I chose to spend my valuable free time reading.
If this book were a movie:
Take me back (again, dating myself) to the age of the horror movie that didn’t thrive on the gore, shock factor or innate wrongness that it takes to scare people these days, to the age where the buildup was the movie and the seeming safeness of the protagonist was so well established that it was practically fact. I don’t care who is in it, or who directs it, I just want to see this movie be mostly normal life and character backstory with the horror twist at the end. This movie would know exactly what it was, horror movie students would be able to predict it within the first 5 minutes, and that’s okay – it is what it is and it’s proud of it.
- What is a Final Girl? It wasn’t made up for this book, according to wikipedia: The final girl is a trope in horror films (particularly slasher films). It refers to the last woman alive to confront the killer, ostensibly the one left to tell the story. The final girl has been observed in many films including Alien and Halloween. The term was coined by Carol J. Clover in her 1992 book Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Clover suggested that in these films, the viewer began by sharing the perspective of the killer, but experienced a shift in identification to the final girl partway through the film.
- I immediately got Scream and Halloween vibes from this book and I was happy to find that those were the inspirations that Riley Sager specifically mentioned for this book as well.
- This is the first book published by Riley Sager, but apparently Riley Sager is a pseudonym for a previously published author. A cursory google search couldn’t find any mention of other books this author has written under another name which has me super curious at this point – to be continued? Also, hats off to anyone who can remain anonymous in this day and age. I’m sure someone with better internet skills that I can figure this out pretty quickly, but it is still noteworthy in my humble opinion.
- I found this list while I was researching the book a bit and enjoyed reading, thought I’d share: The 20 Best “Final Girls” in Horror Movie History
- I read Final Girls in 2 sittings, and then I picked up Here and Gone by Haylen Beck and read it in 1 sitting (review to be posted shortly). While Final Girls was the fun first date horror movie I’ll re-watch for the thrill and nostalgia, Here and Gone was the eerily realistic psychological thriller that gave me nightmares because I’m pretty sure its not far off from more people’s reality than I care to acknowledge and something I’m now convinced could happen to me at any time, in any wrong-place-wrong-time moment.
- I’m gonna go ahead and plug one of my favorite mystery series and crime fiction authors, Tana French and her Dublin Murder Squad series starting with In the Woods. (The Likeness is my favorite, so far) French’s mysteries are all a very deep dive in to her characters, the protagonists of each book.
- Another great in psychological thrillers: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
- If I knew which other books pseudonym Riley Sager had written I would recommend more of her books based on this read, but I can’t….
I received a copy of this book for Penguin Group Dutton via NetGalley in exchange for my honest feedback and review.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Any comments on this review or anything else you’d like to see included on the next one? Please take a moment to comment below, all comments will be read and received.