Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

32796253★★★★★

It’s my birthday and I’m King of the World!

Okay, it’s not my birthday, nor am I a king, but that’s how this book makes me feel.

I’m not going to shame other people for their opinions on this one, but I will say if you didn’t like it, I truly believe you missed the beauty of what Riley Sager did here.

But, still, no judgement. I respect you all, I’m just a little bit in love with this novel.

At Pine Cottage, ten years earlier, Quincy Carpenter emerges from the woods, bloody and screaming, the only survivor of a murderous massacre. We’re talking slasher-flick-sized proportions. The only problem is, Quincy has repressed all memories of that night. She has no idea what happened.

By surviving this horrific event, Quincy becomes a member of a very exclusive club, dubbed in the media as The Final Girls. 

“Final girls is film-geek speak for the last woman standing at the end of a horror movie.”

There are two other members: Sam and Lisa. Lisa, being the oldest is probably also the wisest. She’s navigated being a Final Girl for a long time, so she reaches out to Quincy following her ordeal and they form a unique long-distance friendship. Sam proves more elusive, preferring to stay out of the public eye. She and Quincy have never met, despite attempts by many, including the likes of Oprah. In the here and now, Sam’s disappeared all together.

Until Lisa kills herself.

Quincy has convinced herself she’s over her trauma, but “over it” starts to look more like “ignoring it” when she gets word of Lisa’s death. She starts to pop more Xanax, she starts to get a little angrier, and a little more on edge. Then Sam shows up on her doorstep. Sam is shady and unpredictable. Quincy’s live-in boyfriend, Jeff, doesn’t like her. Quincy’s rescuer, Coop, doesn’t trust her. Quincy doesn’t know who to trust. All she knows for sure is that Sam is a human hurricane, pushing her to remember what happened at Pine Cottage, pushing her, with dire consequences, to tap into feelings she’d buried deep down all those years ago.

As her actions take a dark turn, Quincy knows she must find out what really happened to Lisa. Why would a proud survivor end her own life? And why has Sam really suddenly shown up in her life?

Some reviews have called this predictable or obvious. Those readers deserve a cookie for being such good guessers, because the ending on this one totally got me!! Not even playing.

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I was so enraptured by the inspirations and events of this novel, that I totally believed all the red herrings Sager was dropping, thinking they were something else entirely, and I completely missed the big twist. And that is the beauty of what Riley Sager has done with this novel.

It pulls inspiration from those slasher horror flicks most of us horror/thriller readers love – think Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer or Friday the 13th – and wraps them up in the maturity of an adult psychological thriller.

The juxtaposition of flashbacks to the immaturity of teens in a cabin in the wood adjacent to a mental hospital – who are considering losing their virginity and mucking about because the adults are away – mixed with the modern world Quincy has created for herself – one where a mass murder survivor now blogs about her fucking cupcakes for a living in her ballin’ apartment in the big city, with her lawyer fiance – gave me all the feels.

The kinds of feels you get when an author does something you find to be writing perfection.

I think it’s pretty clear Riley Sager and I are fans of the same things. Dude hit my spot, just right.

Technically, I loved Sager’s approach to writing as well. There is detail to it that doesn’t feel overt or forced, just natural scene setting. I liken it to paint-by-numbers. The outline is there, you know the colours you’re working with, but the rest is up to you to create. He doesn’t beat you over the head with patterns and the colours of “flecks” in someone’s eyes…And the plotting!

Boy, I will beat your ass! It. Is. So. Good.

I seriously get kind of emotional when a thriller writer tricks me with a plot twist.

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Yes, this novel is full of tropes. Some that reviewers were disappointed by because they were done before, typical, and all the rest. But to this humble reviewer, it was a perfect blend of new and old.

You can see the inspiration, you can feel the love for what inspired him. But it was approach with respect as Sager created a new take, a new way to empower a female lead, a new way to bring us along on a slasher horror ride, and a new way to create a Final Girl.

Rejoice, booknerds! Beyond recommending this highly entertaining and fun thriller! What is the next step beyond recommending? Forcing? OK I’M FORCING IT!

🔪🔪🔪

4 thoughts on “Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

  1. I loved this book!!! I read the whole thing on a plane ride and was *just* to the reveal at the end when we landed, and I definitely had my face still buried in the book, multitasking as I was walking off the plane. I adored how Sager captured the essence of a horror film in the flashback scenes … the writing was truly marvelous. And I’m with you that I didn’t see the ending coming either!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we probably both read a lot of books like this, so we’re usually pretty good at guessing an ending, but this one truly got me. I’m surprised by the number of friends on Goodreads who swear they new who the killer was in the first few chapters. Seriously, they deserve a cookie, but I was definitely shocked. He’s got a new one coming out this summer – this time in a summer camp setting, so hopefully still capturing that slasher flick essence. Can’t wait for that one now!

      Liked by 1 person

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