Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Technical Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Rating: 4/5
THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
“The first great thriller of 2017 is here: Final Girls, by Riley Sager. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll like this.”—Stephen King
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.
Final Girls by Riley Sager focuses on common horror themes, but it packs the punch of a seasoned thriller. No fact presented throughout the book is solid, and the reader is thrust in and out of the past while reading. Sager packs Final Girls full of strong female characters as well as men who drive the plot. At no point during the novel was I certain that I knew what was going to happen, and Sager took me for all that I had. I will be reeling from the punches that Final Girls packed for quite some time!
“That’s why Quincy’s Sweets exists. When I graduated college with a marketing degree and moved to New York, I still thought of myself as a victim. So did everyone else. Baking seemed the only way to change that. I wanted to pour my runny, sloshing existence into a human-shaped mold and crank up the heat, emerging soft, springy, and new.”
Final Girls follows one of three “final girls” left in America. The book defines final girls as women who have survived brutal massacres and are often linked to horror-movie style fame. However, Quincy barely remembers anything from the massacre that she suffered through at a cabin in the woods. Her memory has been suppressed, and she shoves the past aside to try and make a “normal” future for herself. But when one of the three final girls, Lisa, ends up committing suicide, Quincy is woken from her quiet life since Lisa frantically emails her before her death. Suddenly, the last final girl, Sam, shows up on Quincy’s doorstep and the truth about the events surrounding Lisa’s death is shaken. Quincy begins to remember the events of her massacre throughout the book, and she begins to realize that nobody is trustworthy.
“I’m not talking about the press now. I’m talking about life. The world. It’s full of misfortune and unfairness and women like us getting hurt by men who should know better. And very few people actually give a shit. Even fewer of us actually get angry and take action.”
Sager provides a powerful book, but the layout was somewhat infuriating. Quincy is an unreliable narrator since she does not remember a lot of the events surrounding her life, and I had a hard time connecting with her. The reader was treated with brief scenes from the massacre that Quincy suffered through, but they were frequently interrupted with scenes from the present. This technique kept me on the edge of my seat, but I found the scenes from the present to be slow at times. I wanted to know more about the massacre that Quincy suffered through (being a horror fan) but I was disappointed in the lack of horror presented in the book.
However, the ending of Final Girls made the entire book worthwhile. It wound up all of the events that Sager threw at the reader, and I finally understood Quincy’s reasons for having memory loss. Final Girls ended up being a fantastic thriller with horror elements, and I would highly suggest it to anyone who would like a darker book that isn’t too scary.