Book Title and Author: The Final Girls by Riley Sager
Publication date and Publisher: July 11, 2017 by Dutton
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Horror
Pages: 352 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: June 29, 2017
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.
I’m not going to lie. I requested to read Final Girls because of all the hype that was everywhere about it on Twitter, Goodreads, book blogs, and magazine articles. It’s everywhere! And with very good reason! This is one book that lives up to all the hype, and it’s no wonder that Stephen King has dubbed it the “first great thriller of 2017”! He’s the man who should know more than anyone what he’s talking about, right?
Final Girls is one of the most psychologically intense, chilling, and gripping books that I have read, well, probably ever. I’m normally not the type to read a book with a slasher type theme, but I could not put this book down. At all. I read it straight through in one day and terrified myself in the process. My god. Before reading this, I had absolutely no idea what a “Final Girl” was since I don’t watch horror films, ever! Now I know, and it took days to get the image of blood-drenched Quincy screaming hysterically and running through the woods not only away from her five friends lying massacred at Pine Cabin but away from HIM toward her policeman rescuer from my mind. So if you are like me and aren’t sure what a “Final Girl” is, it is thriller movie lingo for the only girl left alive after a brutal massacre. They are the girls who although they were viciously attacked fought harder than the others and ran away faster–they are the lone survivors. They are the lucky ones.
A “Final Girl” is what Quincy Carpenter, Lisa Milner, and Samantha Boyd are, and it is this and only this that gives them a tenuous connection. They’ve never met although the media has attempted to get them together for years to put them on some type of display because they are oddities to have survived such horrors. Yet, each girl only wants to move on and forget the horrors they experienced at the hand of their attackers and learn to push past their guilt of being the only ones to survive when their friends were so brutally murdered.
Ten years later it appears that Quincy has moved on as best as she can although she can’t make it through her days without popping Xanax and chasing it down with a grape soda. Quinn barely has any memories of the horrors of the night at Pine Cottage, which is both and blessing and a curse. Quinn copes by relying on Coop, the cop who saved her life that fateful night, by running her successful baking blog, and her relationship with her live-in boyfriend Jeff. Then everything in her life begins to unravel when Lisa is found dead of an apparent suicide and Sam shows up at her door afraid of what Lisa’s death means. Really though, why has Sam shown up after all these years of being under the radar, and what does she really want?
Certainly, Sam’s appearance forces Quincy to question everything she believes about herself and her life among many other things. Not only that, but Quinn’s suppressed memories about the night at Pine Cottage begin to surface slowly and then with a vengeance. Also, she begins to remember things about HIM she hadn’t revealed before and things about her own actions that night that reveals why she is a “Final Girl”!
The suspense in the novel is so palpable and on the edge of your seat as the story is narrated by Quincy from both the present day and in flashbacks to that night at Pine Cottage. As the events of that night come back to Quincy and are revealed it is absolutely creepy. I wanted to jump out of my skin and felt chills down my spine because I kept expecting someone to jump out and start stabbing and slitting throats not only at any time in the narrative but in my house! It was so chillingly atmospheric it was like watching a movie…one where I wanted to cover my eyes and scream at the scary parts! My adrenaline was running so high the last 20% of this book as all the events of that night were revealed! I loved it!
Sager is an excellent writer, and this is a brilliant debut novel (although he is an already published author and Sager is a pseudonym, so his experience shines through). The characterization in the novel was excellent. There is so much depth to Quincy, the main character. You feel Quincy’s fear, anxiety, and anger, especially as she discovers the big reveal. And the way Sagar writes the characters gives you a reason to suspect all of them. It’s as if they are all guilty of something big, but what?
The plotting of the book was stunning because just when you thought you have everything figured out there were so many twists and red herrings that none of your guesses are right! It was a crazy but wonderful thrill ride. I was so astounded by the conclusion that I had to reread it to make sure that I was not losing my mind!! It was an absolutely shocking but outstandingly impressive ending.
The hype is real for Sager’s Final Girls! My fingers are crossed the book is adapted for a movie, and this will be one thriller that I will be glued to!! I think calling Final Girls the thriller of the year is not overreaching, and I will be anxious to see how it does upon publication! I highly recommend you read this book this summer if you love thrillers, suspense, or mysteries!
***Thank you to Edelweiss, Dutton, and Riley Sager for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.***