Thursday, August 3, 2017

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls by Riley Sager
Release Date -  July 11, 2017
Publisher Website - Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  342 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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-fianc√©, 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.
The 'Final Girl' trope is one well known to horror movie fans. She's the last person standing at the end of the horror movie. She's the girl who gets away (and gets to be in the sequel). She's typically young, and attractive. Riley Sager has this term refer to girls who are the sole survivors of horrific massacres. It's the perfect backdrop for his gripping, twist filled story that is filled with complex female characters.

My favourite part of this novel is the fact that Quincy, Lisa, and Sam are apologetically messed up. They are women who are shaped by what happened to them as girls. It is shown that what they experienced is something that never truly leaves you, even if you learn to live with it. Each of them are damaged in their own way, and the author allowed you to see them as these imperfect women who were stronger than they gave themselves credit for. I was even more thrilled that there were three women of this complexity included in the story, not just one. It didn't quite scratch that itch that the character of Amy Dunne left within me, but it came close.

Much like I do while watching horror movies, I spent most of my time reading this novel wanting to yell at these characters to not make the choices they were making. You wanted them to make better decisions for themselves because you were rooting for them. This, much like the title, read as a deliberate nod to horror movies. A lot of this novel comes from a love of horror movies, and the people's fascination with true crime. It's a blend of both and it works rather well for most of the novel.

The author masterfully includes plenty of possible suspects (literally everyone is a suspect at various points in the novel) and red herrings. The most impressive thing about this novel, for me anyways, was that it didn't take the easy path. There are twists that are you think are going to happen. Twists that would have been telegraphed and predictable. The author manages to not use any of them and the story is all the better for it. The twists that do happen are both smart and unexpected which makes for a stronger story.

The ending, however, hurts the story as much as it helps. While I was pleasantly surprised to see all of my predictions be incorrect, I didn't not feel the ending was earned. The novel suffers a little from pacing issues. The beginning is more methodical and it slowly unravels. The ending, however, is like a freight train with things rushing so quickly you can barely catch your breath. It doesn't give the reveals time to have the proper impact, and I don't think the ending was set up as well as it could have been. It is the type of story I want to read again to see if the clues are laid out within the story at some point, but I am not sure that is the case. It didn't quite connect to the rest of the story as seamlessly as I wanted it to, but it still offers a thrilling closure to Quincy's story.

A taunt mystery that will make for fantastic beach reading this summer. It's certainly a conversation starter so it would also be a good pick for book club reading. I recommend this one to those who devour mysteries, and love the idea of experiencing a story with some complex women at its heart. I found the ending to be not as satisfying as I hoped, but feel the rest of the novel is strong enough for me to recommend it. 

1 comment:

  1. This is waiting for me at the library! I'm about to walk out the door to pick it up! :)


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