Book Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 07/11/17
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.
I feel like the past 13 reviews I have written have been tough; they all are books that I don’t want to spoil for the reader and am having trouble putting the proper wording forward to describe my feelings. I’m going to try and be brief on this review, but I’ve found myself somewhere in the middle of the opinions I’m seeing spread out over the internet. Yes, if you are a regular reader of thrillers and mysteries you have a good chance of having the whodunnit figured out early on (I don’t want to say exactly when I had it figured out to avoid spoilers as it was very early on), but honestly it doesn’t matter as Final Girls is still a compulsive and addictive read.
Let me back up for a moment… As an avid reader in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense genre (meaning I read on average 150-200 books in the genre per year), it’s getting difficult to find a book where the big twist is a complete surprise. I’m going to share a secret of mine, because it may help another reader as it’s helped me. After I read the unspecified section of the beginning of the book, I flipped to the end to see if my guesses were correct. GASP! Hold the torches and pitchforks! When I confirmed my suspicions, I realized the burden of expectation that we as readers place on a big, shocking reveal just became another aspect of the plot. I enjoyed the book even more than I would have with unrealistic expectations. All this to say, I’m glad I skipped ahead before reading the entire book as it allowed me to enjoy the journey just as much as the conclusion.
Being the huge fan of slasher films that I am, I was thrilled to see that this story stuck to the traditional formula that we find in movies such as Scream (my personal favorite) and Halloween. If there has ever been a book categorized as pure fun and entertainment, this is it! I found myself agreeing with most of the positive comments in friend’s reviews; I favored the flashback scenes and found myself completely lost in the story. If you are looking for a read to blow through in a weekend any time of the year, look no further. Here’s where I’ve seen people differing on their thoughts; some felt the characterization and present day scenes were slow going and not as gripping as the flashbacks. Here’s my take; the characterization, especially with Quincy, was my favorite part of the book! Call me weird, but I found myself lost in thought wondering what it would be like surviving something so horrifying and being left with the guilt of being the only one to live through it. Watching Quincy’s perfect facade slowly melt away once Sam enters her life again was quite literally breathtaking and the strongest story building pieces of the overall puzzle. This is what set apart Final Girls from similar horror stories that were B-rated at best.
If you’re on the fence about this one, just go ahead and read it. Everyone else is doing it-PEER PRESSURE!!! In all seriousness, you’ll have a hard time finding anything like it if you’re looking to be fully entertained. While this isn’t what true horror readers would classify as “horror”, it does contain aspects of the genre and would be a great bridge for those readers looking to dip their toes into darker waters. This will be especially appealing to readers who are fairly new to the thriller genre and looking for the next popular read to keep them guessing. I’m really excited to see what Riley Sager brings to the table next!
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.