Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
Release Date - July 13, 2021 
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who's left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she's not alone. For more than a decade she's been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette's worst fears are realized--someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

The Final Girl Support Group is a love letter to fans of classic horror movies. It takes those films and questions what it might be like if they were based on real crimes with real final girls. It ends up providing a fast paced read that starts out strong but doesn't quite land the ending. 

Trauma and how it shapes and impacts people is sort of the heart of this story. This asks the question of what the life of the final girl in those horror movies would be like after the credits run. Who are they when they have had time to process the events that happened to them. We have a few different 'final girls' and each of them is different and processes their trauma differently. They share a common thread but that is where their similarities stop. It was incredible to read about a group of women who were all working through trauma with various degrees of success and be able to see so many different variations. It is an empowering message that however you are handling your own trauma is valid and okay. It was also refreshing to see that some were better at processing their trauma compared to others. They were all at different stages and that was okay.

As with any larger group personality clashes are something that happens . The women are all so varied that there was bound to be some friction. I even appreciated how this was handled and that at the end of it all the women helped and supported one another. It really is pretty feminist which is often something seen in horror movies.

Part of the fun if reading this is matching up each girl with their well known classic horror movie inspiration. The book even manages to ground the ones with more of a supernatural flair (like Nightmare on Elm Street for example) so that they feel more realistic. There are fun nods to the inspiration in the character's names which film buffs will delightedly pick up on.

Sadly, like a lot of horror movies it doesn't quite land the ending. It felt a little rushed and bumpy to me. It also does not feel as strongly written as the amazing first half. I would have loved a bit of a stronger ending as that would have moved this up to five star status.

If you are a fan of the classic horror movies (particularly the franchises) I highly recommend giving this one a shot. It, like many horror movies, is incredibly fun even if it doesn't quite live up to its potential.

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