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Final Girls: A Novel Paperback – January 23, 2018
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“The first great thriller of 2017 is here: Final Girls, by Riley Sager. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll like this.”—Stephen King
“A terrific read!”—Karin Slaughter, New York Times and international bestselling author
“Sager does an excellent job throughout of keeping the audience guessing until the final twist. A fresh voice in psychological suspense.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Sager cleverly plays on horror movie themes from Scream to Single White Female, creating an homage without camp. Despite comparisons to Gone Girl, this debut’s strong character development and themes of rebirth and redemption align more closely with Flynn’s Dark Places.”—Booklist (starred review), "The Year's Best Crime Novels"
“The tale builds to a fantastic conclusion that will have readers thinking of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train....This brilliant horror/psychological thriller will fly off the shelves.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“You know the cold dread that washes over you while you’re watching a slasher flick? That’s how you’ll feel reading this blood-spattered mystery.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Part thriller, part horror story, Final Girls borrows riffs from Friday the 13th, Halloween and Single White Female, but remains its own sophisticated creature...Taut and bloody, this chilling mystery invites Gillian Flynn comparisons. Readers should prepare to sleep with the lights on.”—ShelfAwareness
“Stephen King dubbed this page-turner about three women with a seriously grim bond the ‘first great thriller of 2017.’ So yeah, it’s good.”—Cosmopolitan
“A twisty thriller that keeps you guessing whodunit.”—Family Circle
“In horror movies, the "final girl" is the one young woman who makes it out of a slasher film alive. But in Sager's story, Quincy, who survived a mass murder, refuses to play into the "final girl" trope. Instead, she creates a fulfilling life in NYC. Then, a woman like her dies of an apparent suicide, and Quincy's well-crafted facade gradually begins to unravel. This one will keep you guessing until the very last page.”—PureWow
“Final Girls is a twisty horror novel that will keep you perched, terrified, at the edge of your seat until the very last page.”—Bustle
“Sager quickly ratchets up the mystery and the psychological suspense in class slasher-movie fashion…Sager takes time to delve into the head of the main character, creating an emotionally charged experience readers won’t soon forget.” —BookPage
“The tone of this book is absolutely spot on – more Dark Places than Gone Girl – but it’s creepy as hell and it evokes the best qualities of 80’s slasher movies.” —BookRiot
"Far and away the best thriller that came out this year." —PopSugar
“[A] cleverly devised, expertly written psychological thriller” —Fresh Fiction
“Final Girls is the reason they came up with the term ‘page-turner.’” —PopHorror
“A dread-filled novel dripping with atmosphere.” —Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog
“Readers won’t want to put this intense thriller down on the beach blanket — though that blanket may come in handy for hiding under during some of the book’s scarier moments.” —Deseret News
“The Final Girls need you. You must sit down with this book, you must read. You must start flipping pages, faster, faster, faster. The Final Girls are tough, everything survivors should be. But the new threat is clever, ominous, even closer than you suspect. You are about to gasp. You might drop the book. You may have to look over your shoulder. But you must keep reading. This is the best book of 2017, the Final Girls need you.”—Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Find Her
“Final Girls is a compulsive read, with characters who are at once unreliable and sympathetic. Just when you think you've figured out the plot, the story pivots in a startling new direction....A taut and original mystery that will keep you up late trying to figure out a final twist that you won't see coming.”—Carla Norton, bestselling author of The Edge of Normal and What Doesn't Kill Her
“Part psychological thriller, part homage to slasher flicks and film noir, Final Girls has a little bit of everything: a suspicious death, a damaged heroine, an unwelcome guest who trades in secrets, and not a single character you can trust. Plenty of nail-biting fun!”—Hester Young, author of The Gates of Evangeline
“There are uncommon books and films that crack the ‘safe place,’ that have us forgetting it’s only a story. Nobody knows exactly how this is done, but when it’s done, we know it. Final Girls is operating on that plane; you will check your own arm for a wound a character suffers, you will look across the room when a character hears someone coming, and you will wonder if you yourself have the mettle to endure being a Final Girl.”—Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box
“Smart and provocative, with plenty of twists and turns, Final Girls will have the reader racing breathlessly toward its shocking conclusion.”—Sophie Littlefield, award-winning author of The Guilty One and The Missing Place
“Phenomenally drawn characters and an intriguing premise make this one of my favorite books I've read this year. An outstanding novel.”—Hollie Overton, bestselling author of Baby Doll
“Captivating and compelling, with a refreshingly brilliant premise, Riley Sager is one to watch.”—Lisa Hall, bestselling author of Between You and Me and Tell Me No Lies
“An intriguing original idea. We’ve all shuddered at bloodbath stories—but how does the survivor cope? It made me think outside the psychological box. Fresh voice, great characterisation and unexpected surprises. This stayed in my mind because it was different.”—Jane Corry, Sunday Times bestselling author of My Husband's Wife
About the Author
Final Girls is the first thriller from Riley Sager, a pseudonym for an author who has previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor, and graphic designer who lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
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All in all it's still a great title. But that's about it.
For whatever reason this summer, I've been drawn to psychological crime thrillers. Within the last couple of weeks I've read Ruth Ware, Tana French, and now this. One aspect that binds the three novels together is that they each overuse the theme of "protagonist forgets the details of the traumatic event that happens to them" which leaves the reader in the dark, too. In my opinion, and probably because I've read three separate novels employing this theme back-to-back, I was highly annoyed by this. I understand this is a necessary technique to utilize when creating an atmosphere of suspense, but clearly it's overdone. Within this genre, I'd like to see authors become a bit more creative. The last irksome detail, in my opinion, was the final twist. While I didn't see it coming, I also didn't really buy into it. It was far more believable and better written than the twist at the end of "In a Dark, Dark Wood", but for some reason, I felt that Sager built us up for something much more dynamic. I was not displeased with the ending, I just felt lukewarm about it.
Part Two: Praise
Of the three novels, Sager's novel was the easiest and most entertaining read. I read it quickly; tore through it, in fact. I know many of the reviews claim that the characters are unlikeable; however, I feel that our leading lady--Quincy Carpenter--was believable, likable, and yes--in extreme denial. All of those traits made me buy into her post Pine Cottage mentality. She was broken and rattled to the core, but who could blame her? She tried to frost herself to perfection like one of her Food Channel acclaimed baked goods. Again, I truly felt her actions would be a normal response to numbing oneself back into normalcy. When Quinn meets Sam, I even found myself angered and disappointed in her choices and this was necessary. Quinn moves quite swiftly into a dynamic character and watching her mentality evolve was a joy to read. She needed to feel everything Sam brought to the forefront; Quinn never had the chance to grieve the tragedy or her role in it. Before the blood could even dry at Pine Cottage, her mother tried to put her on Xanax and make her forget and move on from the tragedy. At 19-20 years old, how can anyone fully grieve and move on? We can't. I believe Quinn is an extremely well-written and thorough character.
Secondly, I felt that this novel was a page turner. The writing enveloped me and transported me right into Quinn and Jeff's apartment, Pine Cottage, etc. I felt scared, thrilled, angered, sad, and at the end, complete. I almost see Quincy as a Jessica Jones type who now wants to help fellow victims (and I love that parallel).
Thirdly, whether intentional or not, Sam (as Quinn meets her) reminds me of Joss Whedon's Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They have the same attitude, vengeance, and morals. Again, probably a not so conventional parallel but this made me enjoy the novel even more.
The central character, Quincy, is the sole survivor of a horror-movie-esque serial killer attack that left six of her friends dead in a cabin when she was in college (reminiscent, nostalgically, of Friday the 13th). The story is told in a slow-reveal series of flashbacks that tells the tale of that night, as well as the current story line of Quincy's modern-day life. The flashbacks were actually pretty good, allowing the reader to bond with these kids while anticipating their eventual slaughter. The current day portion was very slow, revealing Quincy's extremely boring life that seems lonely and unlikely. She's been blessed with victim money, so she lives in a fabulous west side home in NYC, spending her days baking, blogging, and getting cozy with her (boring) public defender boyfriend. Quincy steadfastly denies her "final girl" title, which is the strongest character trait she has.
All hell breaks loose when a distant acquaintance (another sole survivor) ends up dead and a third, Samantha, ends up on Quincy's doorstep. The book follows their journey of self-discovery as they unravel a series of mysteries connected to that fateful night.
This all sounds basically decent yeah? And it's the premise granted in the descriptions, so no spoilers. And geez I really wanted to like this book. On the one hand, it's well-styled and written. As in, the author can actually write dialogue correctly and use grammar to a good advantage. But I struggled to read and like this one. The pacing is painfully slow. The characters are unreliable narrators at best (but not in that good way). I couldn't tell if the author was purposeful when making continuity errors - like when on page 80 Quincy tells Sam she tried smoking once, but didn't like it... then on page 153 Quincy contradicts herself and tells Sam she used to smoke as though this is the first time they're having the conversation (and then thinks it was only the one time) - and Sam accepts this without question. Is this showing they're both just willing to believe each other? Or was it a mistake? Hard to tell.
The red herrings are in-your-face distracting. Every character is a suspect. And the entire plot is a series of random occurrences strung together with one bizarre twist after another that encourages the reader to develop a suspension of disbelief so high as to be unachievable. At the 70% mark I wanted to DNF this one. The random decisions and actions that occur were becoming so crazy annoying that I wanted to wall bang this one. The ending left me feeling frustrated and rolling my eyes so hard I thought they might roll right out of my head. Completely improbable and ridiculous at the climax, twist, and conclusion. UGH.
Again, no spoilers here... venture at your own delight. If you love throwback horror or nostalgia thrillers, you may enjoy this one. If you can give into this story without overthinking it, you may actually like it. I wish I was in the frame of mind to just eat this like popcorn, but unfortunately I just couldn't give into it.
On another, positive, note, I think this book would actually make a fantastic movie. If this were filmed in a campy way with some humor added in, I think it would actually work. I was able to abstractly envision this as I went and I feel like there is a good story in here somewhere.