by Riley Sager
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 received an eARC of Final Girls from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I don't know about you, but I both love and hate horror movies. Sometimes there's nothing more enjoyable than watching a teen slasher movie and laughing at all the mistakes they make, until it's time to go to bed and turn the lights out and all I can think about is Ghostface appearing at the foot of my bed. I'm a wuss - I can't even watch Shaun of the Dead on my own, although I think that might be because zombies are the supernatural creatures that freak me out the most.
What I do really love, though, is when horror tropes are played around with - it's why I enjoyed The Cabin in the Woods so much (which is a really good film by the way, if you haven't seen it already). So when I heard of Final Girls and was sent an eARC via NetGalley, I couldn't wait to read it; I picked it up at a time when I was really in the mood for a thriller, and what I got was an addictive, dark, adrenaline-filled adventure. Once I started this book I didn't want to put it back down and I easily could have read it in one sitting if I didn't have to be a proper functioning adult.
Essentially, Final Girls plays around with the idea of, you guessed it, the 'final girl'; she's Sidney Prescott in Scream, Ellen Ripley in Alien, Laurie Strode in Halloween. In the novel there are three girls who solely survived separate horrific attacks, the kind of attacks you'd expect to see in a horror movie, whom the media have become obsessed with. Our protagonist, Quincy, is the only member of her group of friends to have survived a massacre ten years before, and she's slowly starting to move on with her life and put the past behind her as much as she can. Then she discovers one of her fellow final girls has been found dead, and the life Quincy has built for herself begins to fall apart.
Final Girls is such a fun idea for a thriller - horrific, yes, I wouldn't want to go through anything that any of these 'final girls' go through, but it's such a cool idea - and it has to be one of the twistiest books I've ever read. There's not a lot I can say about the novel without giving anything away, and I'd hate to give anything away when it's so much fun to discover for yourself as the story unfolds, but I will say it kept me guessing until the end. If someone had asked me to guess the ending of the story at the very beginning, I never would have guessed the outcome in a million years. If I'm being completely honest that might just be because I don't tend to read thrillers often - for all I know someone who is a real thriller nut may find this book a lot more paint-by-numbers than I did - but I'm usually quite good at guessing where a story's going, so it's always nice to be surprised.
Part of me couldn't help but wonder how realistic the ending is, but that didn't take anything away from my enjoyment of it; I don't mind suspending my disbelief a little for a thriller, because frankly if thrillers were really accurate we'd spend a lot of time watching police officers filling out their paperwork. Ultimately I loved the juxtaposition between the beginning and the end of the book, meaning Final Girls has to be the most twisty, turny book I've read since I read Fingersmith.
The most prominent thought I had while reading Final Girls, which I don't have often, is that this book would make a great movie. I'd watch the hell out of that movie, and I'll definitely pick up whatever Riley Sager brings out next. This is already being described as the thriller of the year and I can see why, I enjoyed it a lot and I think that whether you're a thriller junkie or a complete newbie, you'll like this book - especially if you have a soft spot for horror movies.