Throwback Review: Final Girls

Riley Sager is an author I didn’t realize I loved so much until I realized all of my favorite thrillers were written by him. I read The Last Time I Lied a few months back and fell head over heels in love with it. Imagine my shock when I learned Lock Every Door was written by the same guy! For the uninitiated, Final Girls marked Sager’s entry into the world of thrillers in 2017. The Last Time I Lied followed in 2018, Lock Every Door in 2019, and Home Before Dark to be published at the end of this month. A review of Home Before Dark will be up soon.

Image via Goodreads.

Quincy Carpenter is the sole survivor, a final girl, of a murder spree deep in the woods at Pine Cottage. The media throws her onto the front pages alongside two others: Lisa Milner and Samantha Boyd. Newscasters and crime junkies become obsessed with them, fixating on how they could be the only ones to survive their traumatic events. Years pass and Quincy has no memories of what happened at Pine Cottage. She has learned how to cope, find some sense of normalcy with her boyfriend, Jeff, and has moved on. Kind of. All of that changes when Lisa unexpectedly commits suicide and Samantha ends up on her doorstep, forcing her to confront her past head on. It turns out not everything was how it seemed that night ten years ago…

The concept of Final Girls captivated me when I first read the summary. It’s not all that far fetched and we’ve all seen something of the sort before. Horrific accident – only one or two survive. Armed gunman, survivors found hiding in trashcan. But what happens afterwards? How can they go back to normal after what they’ve been through? Final Girls acts as some sort of answer to that question. Quincy’s life now is interesting to me and satisfied the areas it should – she has a boyfriend, Jeff, with solid hobbies and a less-than-supportive support group. I believed it. The last third of the book had me guessing.

My issue was how sloooooooooow it was. The first half of the book seemed to drag on, while the last half of the book had to turning pages with a quickness. I finished The Last Time I Lied in one sitting and Lock Every Door in maybe two or three days. I found this on my coffee table for almost two weeks. The timeline felt off somehow. I found myself flipping back to make sure I was remembering when things happened and if they even happened at all.

Sager just gets better with time. This was his thriller debut and, while it’s not bad, it doesn’t have the oomph of his newer novels. I’m comparing because it’s hard not to. The Last Time I Lied had such a well-rounded magic to it and has a final girl of its own. Lock Every Door had me captivated by how different it was, I had no idea what to expect next. I can tell that his books are only improving and tightening up as he goes – normally I see the opposite when authors get lazy and half-ass it.

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