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Final Girls by Mira Grant

BOTTOM LINE: Creepy and fascinating

Genre: Horror
Publication Date: 30 April 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“What if you could fix the worst parts of yourself by confronting your worst fears?

Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented proprietary virtual reality technology that purports to heal psychological wounds by running clients through scenarios straight out of horror movies and nightmares. In a carefully controlled environment, with a medical cocktail running through their veins, sisters might develop a bond they’ve been missing their whole lives—while running from the bogeyman through a simulated forest. But…can real change come so easily?

Esther Hoffman doubts it. Esther has spent her entire journalism career debunking pseudoscience, after phony regression therapy ruined her father’s life. She’s determined to unearth the truth about Dr. Webb’s budding company. Dr. Webb’s willing to let her, of course, for reasons of her own. What better advertisement could she get than that of a convinced skeptic? But Esther’s not the only one curious about how this technology works. Enter real-world threats just as frightening as those created in the lab. Dr. Webb and Esther are at odds, but they may also be each other’s only hope of survival.

With her new novella Final Girls, bestselling, award-winning author Mira Grant has conjured a heartstopping, gut-wrenching story filled with as many twists as it is versions of reality. Grant offers a chilling exploration of how surviving horrors might define us all.”

My Thoughts: Mira Grant knows how to write a story that will scare the bejeezus out of you. The opening chapter of Final Girls had my heart pounding and made me too uncomfortable to fall asleep. In fact, the rest of the novel left me a bit too uneasy for easy sleep. I had to finish reading it during the day. It isn’t Stephen King scary, but it is unsettling in the “something is chasing me” fashion. I love that.

As it is a novella, it is light on details and development. The reasons for Esther’s skepticism regarding Dr. Webb’s methods do not get much more attention than what is stated in the synopsis. The science behind Dr. Webb’s methods get no attention. There is little more than cursory information to explain the science behind the science fiction.

What it is strong on is horror and suspense. Using nothing more than a few simple word choices, she sets the tone of the novel with the opening sentence:

“The wood is dark and the wood is deep and the trees claw at the sky with branches like bones, ripping holes in the canopy of clouds, revealing glimpses of a distant, rotting moon the color of dead flesh.”

Any story that brings your nightmares to life is going to be a tough one to read, but under Ms. Grant’s pen, it becomes difficult to distinguish fiction from reality. While reading, all trees will claw and the moon will no longer be a friendly light illuminating the night. For a short novel, Final Girls packs a strong punch. With its brief discussions around ethics and the long-term consequences of science and technology that never underwent peer evaluation and the nightmares meant to resolve psychological wounds, you too will want to remain safely awake. After all, no one ever wants to experience their nightmares in real life.

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