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Final Girls by Riley Sager

BOTTOM LINE: A great summer read.

Genre: Suspense & Thriller
Publication Date: 11 July 2017
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“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.”

My Thoughts: Final Girls is the type of novel that defines a summer read. Immensely readable, exciting, suspenseful, and with a character meant to generate tons of sympathy, it is one of those novels that is easy to pick up poolside or on a hammock and while away an afternoon. It is also easy to set aside for other summer activities and still be able to come back to it later without losing any of its appeal. It is not a novel which will inform or enlighten; it exists to entertain, and it does a good job at that.

Like other such novels, Final Girls does not stand up to scrutiny very well. Once you start picking through the details, certain elements fall apart. Characters become weak. The holes in the plot become a little more visible, as do pacing issues and untrod paths the story could have taken. Summer reads are typically for entertainment purposes only, and this becomes evident when trying to analyze this one.

The story itself is entertaining. Quincy is a sympathetic character for whom one wishes nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows especially because there is a darkness to her character that befits her experiences. Plus, these days any mystery that manages to keep the ending a surprise is worth noting, and this is one area Ms. Sager executes really well. While it is not quite the page-turner one might expect, it is still a novel that keeps people interested.

Final Girls is not much more than an entertaining, relatively light read. There is little violence that occurs within the active story; everything that happens to the girls happens offstage. While Ms. Sager could explore the psychological trauma of such events, she chooses to mention them without delving into details. Quincy obviously has issues as a direct result of her experiences, but she remains a functioning, almost successful member of society. The mysteries of Lisa’s death and Quincy’s repressed memories are not pleasant but neither are they disturbing. The entire story could have gone in a much darker, much more negative path. Instead, Ms. Sager chooses to focus on survival and happy endings, making it a much easier story than it could have been. In fact, it is an excellent choice for an exciting summer reading selection.

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