Thanks to NetGalley and Dutton for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: July 11th, 2017
Synopsis: Ten years ago, college student Quincey Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the sole 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-fiance, 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. 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 has been incredibly hyped since last year, so maybe it was destiny or karma, that it wasn’t going to quite live up to my expectations. That’s not to say I thought it was awful. I just don’t agree with my idol, Stephen King’s assessment that “The first great thriller of 2017 is here!” There are several things I liked about it, but let me get the negatives out of the way first.
Final Girls. We’re all familiar with them thanks to the movies. Who doesn’t recognize the names Laurie Strode/ Halloween; Nancy Thompson/Nightmare On Elm Street; and of course Sidney Prescott/Scream. Here, Riley Sager has given us three new survivors, in Lisa, Sam and Quincy. The main focus is on Quincy, who ten years after her escape from the massacre at Pine Cottage, has supposedly gotten past the horrific events of that night. Her mind has protected her somewhat by blocking out most of what happened. She also has Jeff, her caring boyfriend, and Coop, the police officer who saved her from the killer she calls “Him”. She’s happiest when creating new dishes for her popular baking blog, so life seems good.
And then Lisa, who she’s never met in person, but has communicated by phone and emails, is discovered dead, and Sam, who has been off the grid for the last several years, unexpectedly shows up. Immediately Quincy’s carefully structured life starts to spiral out of control. I was expecting to feel complete and total empathy for Quincy, but to my dismay, I disliked her almost from the very beginning. She is much too gullible and trusting for someone who’s been through what she has. She also takes Jeff, who genuinely cares about her, completely for granted, which really bothered me. I wound up not being able to relate to her at all. Sam is a sketchy and unlikable character, and her and Quincy’s developing relationship is truly toxic. Some of the things they wind up doing to prove they’re survivors just don’t make any sense. There’s too much time spent on their actions and there are parts that are unnecessarily repetitious and inconsistent which makes the story lag, especially in the middle.
The chapters alternate between what’s happening in the present day, and what happened ten years ago at Pine Cottage. The chapters set in the past are the most exciting of the book, especially as more and more of Quincy’s memories begin to return. It’s the last third of the book that had me glued to its pages. There are so many shocking twists that each time I thought I had finally figured everything out I was proven wrong. When the big reveal came, it may not have been completely credible, but it was unexpected and impactful in every way.
In the end I think Final Girls starts as a fantastic concept, but the story gets a bit muddled along the way. I need to be honest and say I’m definitely in the minority here because most of the reviews on Goodreads are giving it 4-5 stars. Although it wasn’t a perfect read for me I’d still recommend it to fans of horror and slasher films.