Final Girls by Riley Sager
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.
I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to read this. I’m a huge fan of mystery/thrillers and read both YA and adult ones. I’ve had this on my TBR for a long time. TBR and Beyond decided to have a readathon for a week that was adult books. This book was chosen by the group as one to read for it. I am so glad I finally got to it. I read this quickly and would have finished it in a day if I didn’t have other things to do.
I’m a horror movie fan. So I was very familiar with the “final girl” trope. One thing horror movies rarely cover is what happens to the final girl after the murders. I know myself and I would have survivor guilt. I’m sure I would have nightmares. Since I already have anxiety, I doubt I would leave the house often. But I’ve often wondered how angry I would be. Would I want revenge? Would I want to take it out on anyone similar to the perpetrator? I’m not an angry person, but I have to assume something like that changes a person.
Quincy is one of those people. We see hints of who she was before the murders, but not enough to know her personality to see how much it changed her. We do know that it did though. One of the things she deals with is anxiety. But she also pretends to have this perfect life after spiraling shortly after the attack. She lives with her boyfriend, Jeff, who is a defense attorney. Quincy bakes and runs a blog. But she will not talk about that night at the cabin, nor will she name the murderer. Part of it is that she claims that she has no memories of what actually happened. The police didn’t believe her. Her wounds were not the kill wounds that everyone else had. The only one who really stuck by her was Coop, the police officer that saved her. Coop stays in her life and drops everything whenever she needs him.
Lisa is another final girl who kind of kept it together. She was the person who wanted to help and reached out to both Quincy, and Sam, another final girl. She wrote a book. She talked openly about what she went through and how she coped. Sam disappeared and Quincy tried to pretend it never happened. But Lisa was able to help them at times. So when Lisa is found dead by suicide, something doesn’t sit right with Quincy. Then Sam shows up at her doorstep.
Sam is almost the opposite of Quincy. She is not put together. She has no money and no home. Sam drinks, smokes, steals, and has been arrested multiple times for going after men. With Sam staying with her, Quincy starts to change. Sam pushes her to remember. Sam pushes her to say His name. And Sam pushes Quincy to get angry. They drink and take too much Xanax. They go to the park to watch for men committing crimes. Quincy becomes full of rage. But she also questions everything about Lisa’s death and who Sam is. Things don’t add up.
The book gives glimpses of that night at the cottage/cabin in between the current story. I found myself thinking of so many ways that night went. I would think one person was involved and then I’d change it to another. I went back and forth often. I loved all the twists and the pacing. I loved the flawed characters. And I loved the story.
I gave this book 5 stars and I can’t wait to read more by Riley Sager.
Warnings: A lot of the typical things you would expect in a book like this. Murder, suicide, excessive drinking, anxiety and mental health issues, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, underage drinking (20 year olds), sex including almost forced sex and using people for sex, sometimes rough, attacks/beatings, stabbings, cheating, etc.
Have you read this book? It seems like people either loved it or hated it, which I find a lot with mystery/thrillers. Did you figure everything out early, or were you guessing and changing often like I did? Did you trust anyone in the story?