The end of this post contains spoilers!
Back when The Final Girls came out in January, I had heard a million things about it, but I avoided reading it because I’m a chicken and when someone compared it to a slasher flick I ran for the hills. But, it came into my life through the “blind date with a book” display at my local Barnes and Noble. And I’m so glad I ended up taking this one home over the other one I had in my hand. This book is so good. Overall, did it terrify me? Yes. Did I sleep with my lights on the first few nights after reading it? Yes. Does that make it an excellent thriller in my book and should everyone read it? YES.
Okay let’s start with the non spoiler stuff first:
I didn’t like any of the characters really, except for Quincy, even though she had a lot of unlikable moments as well. Quincy’s biggest flaw is that she has poor coping mechanisms, and to me, she didn’t have the support system she needed after she survived the tragedy that she did. The only person that i felt like truly wanted to help her get over this trauma and not just move on and be “normal” again, was Coop, the police officer that saved her.With the events in this book forcing her to remember the feelings she had that night, I don’t blame her for getting overwhelmed and falling back into the bad coping mechanisms that she has built for herself.
This book is split into a dual narrative with two different points of view. Present day Quincy is telling the story of ten years after the events at “Pine Cottage” in first person, while in third person you’re reliving the night of the events that happened to Quincy and her friends. The third person narration of the events was really interesting because not only did it give those scenes a more horror movie feel, but it also helped the reader learn about the events without taking away the fact that Quincy can’t remember the finer details of what happened.
Another aspect of the narrative that gave the novel a horror movie vibe was the fact Quincy refuses to use the name of the killer. She calls him “He” or “Him”, and there are no physical descriptions of Him until you get further along in the book and you read about what happened in Pine Cottage. You get only small bits of what He looks like along the way, which makes Him feel like this person watching from the shadows the entire time. It was such a good way to raise the stakes in a small manner.
Okay onto the spoilers. (Seriously, heavy spoilers ahead, do not go any further if you haven’t read the book and you plan to!)
I guessed the deal with Janelle and Craig right off the bat. Once Janelle told Quincy she wanted her and Craig – Quincy’s boyfriend – to share a room I knew that there would be the typical ‘best friend sleeps with the boyfriend’ drama. Which was what ended up happening when Quincy said she wasn’t ready to lose her virginity, Craig left and went to have sex with Janelle on the cliff nearby. Obviously it’s the device that Sager needed to have Quincy angrily walking in the woods with a knife in her hand, so that there would be Quincy questioning herself and feeling guilty all those years later about possibly putting the weapon in His hand, but I wish it had been something different because the cheating best friend trope is kind of overdone in my book.
There’s a part of me that was intrigued with Quincy’s baking as I read. At first you’re introduced to it as just a job for her to pass the time. But learning about her home life with her dad after Pine Cottage and finding out just how important baking and sweets was to her healing process was one of the most engaging parts of the book for me and I wished I had seen more of it.
Okay but the first of the two big plot twists – when it’s revealed that Sam isn’t Sam at all, but Tina who knew the person who was supposedly the killer at Pine Cottage. I didn’t trust Sam when she first joined the story, but I figured that it was because reading those parts of the narrative from a first person perspective and Quincy and her fiance didn’t trust her that much.
I WASN’T EXPECTING HER TO BE AN IMPOSTER.
Tina was “His” – later named as Joe Hannen, an escapee from the psych hospital nearby Pine Cottage – close friend, and when she heard that he had been killed by a police officer after killing all those people at the cottage, she didn’t believe it. So Tina tracked down Quincy to try and push her into remembering and clearing Joe’s name. When she realized nothing would make Quincy remember she drugged her and took her to Pine Cottage. That itself was a terrifying moment. But what was even worse was we found out Joe wasn’t the real killer but that the killer was COOP THE COP THAT QUINCY THOUGHT SAVED HER.
Honestly Riley Sager ripped my heart out with that one because the only character I actually loved at the beginning was Coop. I didn’t see that coming at all, but wow was it a good twist, but I’m so upset that I couldn’t even trust him.