Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Released: July 11, 2017
Series: N/A
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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-fiance, 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 comes 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.

Please keep in mind that this review contains spoilers for the entire book. Read with caution. If you click the “Read More”, it is under the assumption that you either don’t care about spoilers or you’ve already read the book.

Initially, I have read this post on Aurora Liberialis on some Halloween recommendations for scaredy-cats and decided to treat myself to a good spooky book. I’ll also say that I’ve known the author has been a man although he used a vague woman’s name; especially when writing has only recently started to have more successful women writers. I’m unsure why this gentleman feels as though he had to hide himself to publish this novel – because it has the stink of a male author all over it. I don’t like criticizing this however, I have to briefly touch on this now before we get to the actual review.

There are plenty of perfectly good male authors out there who can write one hell of a book of all kinds of genres. However, as a personal pet peeve, there’s something about how the women in this novel were portrayed that really bothered me a lot especially when compared to how the men are. I get the point of this story is to take a look at the Final Girl trope in slasher movies but much like slasher movies, and horror movies in general, the writer needs to show their point and get to it quickly. It needs to drive the story in some way. It can’t just be sex and gore for the sake of sex and gore – unless, that really is the author’s intent.

Usually for a pet peeve this large, and in this book, would get a 1-star rating from me. But there’s something in me that just couldn’t give it that 1-star rating.

For a good chunk, and I mean a good chunk, of this book was extremely boring. It almost completely lost me on multiple times with how routine and boring Quincy’s life actually is. Baking blog, a love scene with Jeff, her worries about the past with Lisa’s murder trickled in. There’s some characterization with Coop and how Quincy is a kleptomaniac for shiny things.

Even when Sam appeared, nothing seemed to pick up. There were a few actual thrilling moments and those scenes are what saved it from being a 1-star book for me. The moments where Quincy beat a man and the possibility that she may have killed him to wondering if he would come out of his coma. The moments where Quincy found out Lisa had been stalking her and before her realization about the woman known as Sam.

And the truth about Pine Cottage through the flashbacks that are placed in between the chapters. Those moments had me worried about what’s to come and what the actual plot twist would be. Those moments had me wanting more.

However, that’s about all the good I can say for this. Everything else, how boring the majority of the book was, along with the deal with the reporter and the fact that everyone went nuts over a Final Girl… it was so dull and dreary.

Even if Pine Cottage produced a Final Girl, and even if it is popular within the true crime community (this makes me wonder how the outside world reacts to a situation aside from pity and sympathy), I hardly doubt a security guard would allow a couple of women to steal right under his nose just for an autograph. Quincy is already shown to be a kleptomaniac and I felt that Sam and Quincy stealing from a store was a bit juvenile but maybe that’s the point.

What really angered me the most about this, though, and the reason why this is a 2-star instead of 3 – is how often the author talks about how Quincy wants sex. Instead of the Nice Guy Sex from Jeff who asks if she felt good and took care of her, she would go in detail about how hard she’d actually want it. And how much of a non-perfect victim she actually is.

That’s fine – we need more media that talks about certain issues that living victims that they don’t have to fit into a perfect mold but it didn’t delve into that much at all. It hardly talked about her addiction to Xanax and wine – it’s a Quincy quirk! Nothing was really shown but told and it didn’t make me care about Quincy’s plight. It only brushed a few times about the anger she actually had – but oh man, she might’ve been the one who killed her friends all along! See how quickly she grabs a knife and she doesn’t know why!

But the sex things really came off as creepy to me. Why would the author stress on this? I get that trope is that the Final Girl is virginal and we all know Quincy Carpenter is not of those! There are only two sex scenes that mattered and it was in the flashback between Janelle and Craig – showing how animalistic their sex was in compared to what she would eventually have with Joe.

Everything else was pointless. When the scene happened in the flashback chapter, it wasn’t shocking to me. It would’ve been more shocking if they hadn’t peppered the novels with Quincy’s sexual preferences and constant scenes with Jeff.

And then the twist happened. Oh, and how it was a twist that honestly did not matter! For the fact that Coop had a “sickness” that apparently Quincy could only cure… then why kill Lisa? Why kill Sam? Why even attempt to kill Quincy? Granted, Tina was the one who demanded to know the truth but it would’ve been a better touch if Coop was more involved with Quincy if he really loved her – give us a reason Jeff didn’t like him. Give us a reason why Coop didn’t like Jeff.

Give us a reason to believe why the women were considered filthy whores and the men, aside from maybe Coop, were pure angels tempted by their womanly ways. Show us – don’t tell.

Honestly, the sexism, at the end of the day, angered me more than anything. I couldn’t fairly give it a 1-star because it did thrill me and I was worried about Quincy and Sam. But the sexism was way too much for me and I honestly could not enjoy it. I have to post this now before I go ahead and knock it down one more star – and I don’t want to lie to people about how I really felt about this book.

About Lily

A fujoshi who won't shut up about anime, manga, video games, BJDs, nendoroids, and anime conventions. She apparently can't stop writing either.

Posted on November 3, 2018, in ★★☆☆☆ – 2 Stars, Book Reviews, Book Series, Oneshots and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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