Sunday, June 18, 2017
Book Review: "Final Girls" by Riley Sager
"We were, for whatever reason, the lucky ones who survived when no one else had. Pretty girls covered in blood. As such, we were each in turn treated like something rare and exotic. A beautiful bird that spreads its bright wings only once a decade."
Ten years ago, Quincy Carpenter went to the woods with five of her friends to celebrate her best friend's birthday. But instead of the carefree celebration they planned, that night turned out to be something out of her worst nightmares. She was the only one to survive a brutal massacre. She can't seem to remember what happened, nor does she want toall she remembers is being covered in blood and being rescued by a policeman after outsmarting a killer she can only refer to as "Him."
With that incident she became part of a group the press called the "Final Girls," with two other sole survivors of massacre-style attacksLisa, who witnessed an attack on her sorority house which left nine of her sorority sisters dead, and Samantha, who survived a late-night attack at the motel where she worked. The three girls want nothing more than to put their lives back together and somehow shake the memories that haunt them, as well as the guilt that they survived when their friends or others did not.
"Even before Pine Cottage, I never liked to watch scary movies because of the fake blood, the rubber knives, the characters who made decisions so stupid I guiltily thought they deserved to die. Only, what happened to us wasn't a movie. It was real life. Our lives. The blood wasn't fake. The knives were steel and nightmare-sharp. And those who died definitely didn't deserve it. But somehow we screamed louder, ran faster, fought harder. We survived.
Quincy has done fairly well pulling her life together, thanks in large part to her Xanax prescription, which helps keep any lingering anxiety at bay. She has a successful baking blog and a handsome, steadfast boyfriend, Jeff. She also knows that Coop, the policeman who saved her life all those years ago is always looking out for her, ready to come if she needs him.
But then Quincy finds out that Lisa, one of her fellow "Final Girls," has apparently committed suicide, despite how hard she fought to survive all those years ago. If that isn't enough to cause Quincy to lose her composure, it turns out Lisa emailed her right before she died, trying to make contact with Quincy. And then Samantha shows up, ostensibly to check up on Quincy once she heard about Lisa's death (despite the fact that they've never met).
It appears Samantha has other motives in mind, too, as she is intent on getting Quincy to relive that night at Pine Cottage 10 years before, and challenges Quincy's carefully composed life. The more she forces Quincy out of her comfort zone, the more Quincy wonders why Samantha really appeared, and whether everyone else in her life is right to be suspicious. When new information about Lisa's death is revealed, Quincy doesn't know where to turn, or whom to trust, and whether she can handle reopening her memories to the trauma she survived 10 years ago.
Final Girls is full of suspense and twists and turns. Riley Sager is definitely a talented storyteller, and she knows how to throw a few misdirections the reader's way, so you don't know how things will be resolved in the end. She does a great job illustrating the dichotomy of Quincy's life, and how quickly the calm she has come to know can be shattered. I also like the way she developed Quincy and Sam's charactersI don't feel as if the other characters were given the same complexity and depth.
This is definitely one of those books which will make a terrific movie. I really enjoyed this a great deal, although some of the shifting back and forth between past and present was a little more jarring than it should have been. If you're a fan of suspense novels, this is one you'll want to pick up. It certainly will make you think the next time you hear about a sole survivor of a horrific incident.
NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!