Final Girls, by Riley Sager

>> Monday, July 31, 2017

TITLE: Final Girls
AUTHOR: Riley Sager

PAGES: 342

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Thriller

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-fiancĂ©, 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 sort of fell for the hype with this one. But then, I really liked the premise. The thought has crossed my mind more than once after watching a horror movie: what would it be like to have to live having gone through that? This is what Final Girls is about. The title refers to the horror movie trope of the single survivor of some sort of horrendous massacre, usually a young woman.

Our protagonist, Quincy Carpenter, was one such final girl, after all her friends were killed while at a drunken party weekend in a remote cottage in the forest. In the eyes of the press, she joined two others: Sam, who survived a massacre in a motel, and Lisa, who lived through a killing spree in a sorority house (to continue with our horror movie tropes!). The press would like nothing better than to have all 3 women get together, but although Quincy and Lisa have spoken on the phone, that has never happened.

Some years later, Quincy feels like she's doing well. She runs a popular baking blog and leads a quiet life with her boyfriend, a public defender. Yes, she still can't remember most of what happened in Pine Cottage, and she needs antidepressants to get through the day, not to mention her intermittent fits of kleptomania, but considering what she went through, that's understandable.

And then Quincy receives news that Lisa has killed herself, not long after sending Quincy an email saying she needs to speak to her. And that is quickly followed by Sam showing up at Quincy's apartment, where she proceeds to immediately upend Quincy's life.

This didn't work at all. The plot, which was the main draw for me, ended up being nothing more than an intriguing setup. The way it was developed felt clunky and unbelievable. The author sprinkled red herrings all over, which I guess were effective, in that I did fall for them, but they felt manipulative and artificial, rather than organic. It all ends up being too convoluted to be remotely believable, and I just couldn't buy the ending.

The characters were even weaker. Quincy is incredibly meh, a sort of vacuum where a personality should be, and her relationship with Sam just annoyed me, because it felt so forced and fake. Sam is incredibly clichéd, the bad girl who shows up and immediately starts getting the good girl to misbehave and do really stupid stuff and take pointless risks. I didn't believe any of it for a minute.

So yeah, my main problem with this one was that I was just not able to suspend my disbelief, so I spent the entire book going "Oh, seriously!" and "No, no, no!". Not great.

MY GRADE: A C-. And I'm probably being a bit generous.


Anonymous,  2 August 2017 at 14:05  

This looked good but I thought I'd wait for reviews. Thanks! - Keishon

Rosario 6 August 2017 at 07:13  

In retrospect, I probably should have waited for reviews as well!

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