Beware! Final Girls is a scary read that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time and maybe awake at night. You will try to untangle the webs that Riley Sager spins throughout his narrative, but I’m not sure you will make it out in time. Sager is a brilliant horror writer. All of his descriptions drip with murderous imagery, so if that gives you the chills this might be for you; if that makes you squirm in your seat, you might want to skip this one.
Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl. “Final Girl is film-geek speak for the last woman standing at the end of a horror movie.” (pg. 15)
Quincy is one of three girls over the United States known as a Final Girl, a club that she does not want to be apart of. We quickly meet Jeff, her semi-successful boyfriend, and learn that Quincy is trying to make something of herself apart from her Final Girl status. She has a successful blog and owns a beautiful home in New York City. The key to Quincy’s success is that she can’t recall the night ten years ago that she was on a camping trip with five friends and was the only one to survive an unthinkable massacre. Now one of the three Final Girls, Lisa, is found dead in her home, and the other remaining Final Girl, Sam, is found on Quincy’s doorstep. With Sam’s arrival, Quincy is forced to face her past and try to remember exactly what happened that night at Pine Cottage.
Riley Sager alternates between present time and the night all of Quincy’s friends were murdered, leading up to exactly what happened. Most of the book takes place in the present with only a few unnumbered chapters flashing back for Quincy. Personally, I enjoyed the present time more because Quincy’s present day life was super fast-paced. The entire present day story takes place in only a couple of short weeks, so Sager really packs a punch. The chapters in the past revealed only a tiny nugget of truth each time; then Sager would leave you hanging for pages and pages before revealing anymore about that night. It seems kind of cruel at times, but he unravels the story in perfect sequence. I find myself thinking him at the end.
Sager uses the most appropriate symbolism in his writing. He is able to describe Quincy’s baking as if she is committing murder herself. This was perhaps one of my favorite parts of the book: the subtle metaphorical references to the subject matter of this book. I knew Final Girls was a complete mystery, so I tried to pay close attention to every situation and nuance so that maybe I could solve the case. Alas I came up short, but isn’t that the way it should be if it is a worthwhile mystery book?
I feel as if I am not the most impressionable when it comes to reading thriller, true crime, or horror books. I tend to be able to read without feeling scared or too overwhelmed with disgust (there is a normal amount of disgust okay) that these genres do not bother me. For people whom are on the edge of being afraid of certain thrillers that contain more graphic imagery, this book would probably not be for them. It is a lot psychological thriller and a little bit slasher movie.
If this book sounds like a perfect read just in time for Halloween season, you can purchase on Amazon. I bought the mass market paperback for under $7, and it arrived the next day. I plan to read Riley Sager’s two other thrillers in October, just in time for Halloween. I am a big fan. Have you read any of Riley Sager’s novels?