Summary: 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. (From Goodreads)
The best way I can describe this book is: eh. This novel is clearly trying to capitalize on the current True Crime fad that’s sweeping the nation (not that there’s anything wrong with that. SSDGM, my dudes.) The problem is that it doesn’t do it very well.
As some with a Criminology background and a huge interest in true crime, I was really excited to see a story that explores the aftermath of a horrific crime. Where this book fails, is that it treats the main characters grief and clear PTSD as a sort of weakness. As if she is worthy of shame because she is unwilling to chase after horrific memories.
The other issue I had was the weird treatment that these Final Girls faced by the public. People see them as minor celebrities with the full paparazzi treatment. I know Jon-Benet will sometime peak at me from some magazine cover in the grocery store line, but this? This felt so unrealistic. I doubt that journalist would be hounding the victims of past crimes to the point where a meeting between these Final Girls would warrant a front page story.
Another big problem I had was the fact that this story revolves around female victims of horrific crimes and is told from a female perspective, but halfway through the book, I was wondering why the view of the main character felt so off. Well, it turns out the Riley Sager is a pseudonym for a cis-dude. Yeah. There’s nothing inherently wrong with writing from the perspective of the opposite gender, but at least do a better job.
This book has other problems. The perspective and narration clumsily shift during the flashbacks. The whole backstory to the “Final Girl” moniker is poorly done and very unbelievable. The twist is dumb, the suspense is non-existent, and the ending is insulting. What could have been a complex story about survival guilt, PTSD, and true crime ends up being just a cluster of nothing memorable. The reason I gave it two stars is that it kept my attention until the very end. So, that counts for something right?