Thriller novels are the closest thing to horror novels as of late unless one wants to venture into the releases of Stephen King or YA author Danielle Vega, that’s about as good as it’s going to get for now and thankfully they are indeed good. Recently Final Girls by Riley Sager, (a pen name for another established author who still writes in secret), has picked up film rights and has been told to have more horror vibes than average so I decided to give it a try.
A Final Girl is a name given to women who were the lone survivors of massacres. Protagonist Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl whose memories of the events prior to her rescue remain locked deep in her mind. Ten years have passed since her violent encounter and she has since made great efforts to put the event behind her with the help of her boyfriend, Xanax, and keeping in touch with the man who lead her to safety.
She is one of 3 women who survived such massacres: Lisa Milner survived a sorority house massacre and Samantha Boyd survived a terrifying hotel massacre. All three of these women have been requested for comment for years but only Quincy desired a life without publicity. Discovering that Lisa is dead and the arrival of an unexpected person at her doorstep slowly tears apart Quincy’s longing to put everything behind her.
Final Girls was a decent read but could have been so much better. I guessed the killer pretty early into the novel but I assumed I was wrong given the hints at other characters and even the protagonist herself possesses strange tendencies.
Flashbacks and events taking place involving Quincy gives the impression that she is at least quick to anger enough to pull out a knife only later to learn…you know what, I was going to be vague but HUGE SPOILERS ahead.
I don’t understand why the hell Coop turns out to be the killer. It makes some sense and yet it doesn’t. Some of the things he says definitely alerted me that he could easily be the killer very early on but what real point was there for him to stick around knowing he could potentially spark back her memories? Then again, he doesn’t quite establish himself as a smart antagonist, just a murderous one which I can respect. Some people don’t really have a concrete or sensible reason for being evil, they just are. Totally get that, it’s true. Just look at racist whites, violent homophobic/transphobic murderers out in America alone.
However that doesn’t explain Quincy’s violent streak at all. She violently snapped on her mother, nearly beat a homeless man into a coma, and pulls out a knife on Samantha in an argument which would have made sense given her prior trauma but she even pulled out a knife after Craig, (sort of?), breaks up with her the very same day of the massacre committed by Coop. We learn about Coop but I guess readers are supposed to go on as if Quincy has nothing wrong with her at the end when a new Final Girl has been made.
There’s a lot to like about the novel otherwise since Sager possesses the skill to make a reader consumed in learning what happens next. If you read past the spoiler warning anyway, there’s plenty more I did not spoil. Riley Sager’s Final Girls is a decent read that could be adapted into a good enough movie if cast as well as the adaptations of Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train but I wouldn’t hate it if the movie writers decide to make the killer someone else.
Rating: 8 out of 10