We don’t know who the pseudonymous author Riley Sager really is, but that seems fitting in a thriller novel like Final Girls. Because you never quite know who the killer is in a slasher movie, which is what Sager paid tribute to in this book.
For slasher fans, the “final girl” is the one who gets away from the maniacal killer. And in Sager’s book, the finals girls have been so christened by the media following three separate horrific killing sprees. This is the only connection Lisa, Samantha, and Quincy have as the story begins.
As the book opens, we follow Quincy as she learns of Lisa’s death, presumably a suicide. (Not a spoiler, it’s in the publisher’s synopsis.) As perfect as her life seems, Quincy is hanging on by a thread and a Xanax prescription. Then Samantha comes to New York to connect with Quincy and sort through the recent events together. (Also not a spoiler.) From here the plot unfurls like blood at a crime scene.
Final Girls is told partly in first person and partly in third person. It’s an effective device to separate Quincy’s current life and her nearly nonexistent memories of the tragedy at Pine Cottage.
With Quincy at the center of the story, Sager takes us inside her mixed up life. Quincy chooses to behave like a Pollyanna. She says everything is fine, great, wonderful. She’s past her trauma. In fact, trauma, what trauma? She truly can’t remember any of the trauma. This doesn’t make her a healthy human being. It does make her an interesting, if sometimes annoying, character.
Quincy’s relationship to Samantha, and some related decisions, strain credibility at times. But aside from that, the dynamics between the two are intense and pulled me right along.
I read most of this book during last weekend’s 24in48 readathon, and it was the perfect choice. Having blocked off a big portion of my day to read gave me permission to treat this book as unputdownable. I devoured it like the good little bibliophage I am.
When I’m reading a thriller, I don’t always try to figure out the real bad guy. It’s entertainment, not analysis! When my intuitions are close or correct it’s actually disappointing. In this case, I sped through it so quickly that I didn’t guess the true culprit until right before Sager pulled the curtain back. That worked for me. This is a 3.5, which I’ll round up to 4 of 5 stars.
p.s. Final Girls came to me in my Horror box from PageHabit. Their boxes include author annotations, which I enjoyed in this book since Sager was a bit snarky. Also, each time a photo is posted online and tagged with #mypagehabit, the company gives a book to kids who don’t have easy access to them. That’s a big thumbs up from me!