My rating: 4 of 5 stars (3.5 stars rounded up to a 4)
I have heard a lot of good things about Riley Sager. Final Girls is both his first published novel and my introduction to his works. CW: sui mention, violence/slasher themes, substance abuse (drugs, alcohol), toxic relationships, questionable sexual consent, adultery.
Our protagonist is Quincy Carpenter, the only survivor of a massacre that happened ten years ago when she and five other friends went on vacation to Pine Cottage. She is one of a small group of survivors that the press has called “The Final Girls.” The other girls in this club include Lisa (who lost 9 sorority sisters in a stabbing massacre) and Samantha (who survived “The Sack Man” terrorizing a hotel where she was working her first shift), the latter having gone off-the-grid in recent years. Though the press would love them to do so, the three girls have never met in person.
Quincy has been feeling a lot better about life lately. She runs a popular baking blog and has an almost-fiancé who works as a public defender. She maintains a caring relationship with the police officer that saved her life, Coop. Her brain has blanked out her memories, so she does not remember what happened on that horrible night ten years ago.
Coop asks to speak to Quincy out of the blue, where he informs her that Lisa, was found dead in her bathtub, from an apparent suicide. Lisa’s ordeal happened when Quincy was a young girl, and the news reports were part of what taught her about the evils of the world. After her own ordeal, Lisa was the one who reached out (over the phone) to help Quincy realize how to process her traumas; how to be a “Final Girl.”
Lisa once told Quincy that a “Final Girl” is a rare breed, and they need to stick together. Then, Samantha (“Sam”) arrives, after being in the wind for years, reiterating the need to stick together. Both Quincy and Sam aren’t very close to their biological families.
The first 2/3 of the book felt pretty slow, but I was still engaged. The book alternates between the present with Quincy and short scenes from the past beginning when the group of co-eds first arrive at the cabin. These past interludes aren’t always in chronological order. This book is more definitely mystery or suspense/thriller than horror. I only partly guessed the twists in the narrative. I really enjoyed the narrator as well.
Some spoilery thoughts:
So one thing that was hard for me to suspend my disbelief about was that they received the toxicology results from Lisa’s autopsy within a few days of her death. That…. isn’t how that works.