I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Final Girls by Riley Sager
Published by Dutton on July 11th 2017
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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.
Quincy Carpenter has been dubbed by the press as a “Final Girl”. She’s the only survivor of a massacre that killed all of the friends she’d gone camping with. She can’t remember anything about that night after the group ate dinner, but the perpetrator of the massacre was conveniently shot dead by police on the scene, so at least she didn’t have to worry about him coming back for her.
The Final Girls are a small group, just three girls who have survived their respective massacres, and as the book opens, we find that they’ve been reduced by one. Lisa, the original Final Girl who survived a massacre at her sorority house, has been found dead, presumably by suicide. Even though Lisa and Quincy never met in person, the classification of Lisa’s death as suicide doesn’t sit right.
Just after Lisa’s suicide, the third Final Girl, Sam, shows up at Quincy’s condo to… well, that’s the question, isn’t it. She claims to be there because she wants to make sure Quincy is ok after Lisa’s suicide. Even though the girls never actually met, there’s still a strange, somewhat unwanted kinship between them that drove her out of hiding to Quincy’s front door.
But things with Sam aren’t exactly as they seem and it’s not long before Quincy is starting to suspect that she was right about Lisa’s death not being a suicide, and that Sam knows more than she’s telling.
The thing is… of course Sam knows more than she’s telling. Just by virtue of the fact that we’re reading this novel, that this novel exists, we know that there’s more to Sam than she’s letting on. If there wasn’t, there’d be no point to the book. Which is an inherent problem that mystery novels have. Specifically this type of mystery novel, where the point is to find out if the main character is right about a new person or situation in their lives. “I thought maybe Sam wasn’t exactly what she seemed, but I was wrong” isn’t a very exciting book.
And, unfortunately, neither was this one. It took way too long to get going. The beginning, almost the entire first half, was just Quincy baking and taking pictures for her baking blog, taking Xanax, and thinking in vague terms about something that had happened to her in the past without going into the details. This was interspersed with flashbacks to the weekend in the woods with her friends, but it started with all of them arriving at the cabin, and went into meticulous detail about the alcohol they drank, the pot they smoked, exactly what they made for dinner and who cooked it, and Quincy’s every thought and feeling about maybe, possibly, losing her virginity that weekend, or maybe not, and the flashbacks just dragged on and on until I was ready to scream.
The story picked up in the second half, but to be honest, at that point, I was already over it and wasn’t even really sure what the mystery was supposed to be here. Were we supposed to wonder if Sam had actually been the killer at the cabin? That would have made no sense. There wasn’t a mystery regarding the killer at the cabin, he’d been found at the scene and killed by the police. Were we supposed to think that he hadn’t been the actual killer? That didn’t make sense, either. Did Sam kill Lisa? Did anyone? Once it became clear what the mystery was and how we were supposed to figure it out, the book was two-thirds of the way done, and I wasn’t really interested anymore.
It was a quick read; I read it in one sitting. And I had high hopes for this one; it’s been getting so much great press. And I really love a good mystery, especially this time of year, when the days are still fairly warm, but the nights are getting chilly, and I’m curled up on my couch with a cozy blanket and a mug of tea or glass of wine. Unfortunately, this was a miss for me.