Synopsis: 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.
Why. Is. That. Synopsis. So. Goddamn. Long.
But I’m sidetracked already.
First (but not really), I must say: thanks much to Penguin First to Read for the ARC! I literally love that program.
Okay. But. (I don’t know if this is technically a “but” situation, but isn’t there always a “but” with me? Get it? Because there was even a “but” in that very sentence?) Anyway, I had a weird time reading this. It was unlike any thriller I’ve read, which at first seemed good and then turned out to definitively not be.
Let’s get into it. The title “Final Girls” is a reference to a group of 3 women who were the sole survivors of separate serial-killer massacres: Lisa, Samantha, and Quincy (our narrator). They’re tabloid darlings each living separate lives (with varying degrees of success at feigning normalcy) until one of them dies. ooOOH SPOOKY WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?!?!? (Unfortunately, it’s nothing anywhere near as exciting as what that glorious premise deserves.)
But first compliments!!! Hurray.
-the main character, Quincy, runs a baking blog and it’s really cute – you should know by now that sweets are a passion of mine so that’s exciting
-neither of my 2 guesses for what The Big Reveal™ would be were exactly right (I really care about two things in a thriller: I want to have fun guessing the ending (and my guesses should be wrong), and I want to be scared. Or at least, you know, thrilled. And I guess it’s good that this checked one of those boxes. The less important one, for sure, but still one of them.)
-a little bit of the last chunk was somewhat exciting. At times. (How enthusiastic does THAT sound?)
-as mentioned, the concept itself was very good (but GOD why couldn’t the book live up to it)
-nothing happens for the first 3/4 of the book. SERIOUSLY NOTHING. Eventually I just had to hunker down and read this in 100 page chunks. It never!! grabbed me!! And like it’s a thriller so i’d like to be grabbed. (…You know what I mean.)
-seriously, while I was reading this I kept catching myself checking Goodreads and Snapchat and my email. Just so bored. If this had been 25 pages longer I probably would have opened a P.O. box just to have another thing to check.
-the first 75% was also So Repetitive. I really wanna avoid spoilers, so I’ll just say that the book implies two potential Big Reveals™ over. And over. And over.
-even the interactions feel repetitive
-Sam and Quincy’s conversations and banter are always the saaaaaame. Jeff and Quincy have identical “r u ok” convos 3298472389 times.
-we hear the same spiel about Quincy’s mom easily 8 times. If I were ever to encounter the phrase “Xanax and grape soda” in the future, while living my everyday life, it will send me spiraling into a war flashback so intense I’ll lose any tentative hold I may have on reality.
-most of the characters are BANANAS FLAT. Sam and Coop and Jeff, for sure. I have no real concept of Lisa. And it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get a grip on who the hell Quincy is.
-when things start to come together (FINALLY) in the last third, it’s, well…it’s not great. Here are some adjectives i would use to describe it: choppy, confusing, nonsensical, poorly explained, half-baked, characterizationally ill-fitting
-the climax of the book happens at about page 320 out of 345 and is over in 10 pages, SO THAT’S NOT EXACTLY A PAYOFF WORTHY OF THE 800 TIMES I READ ABOUT QUINCY LOOKING AT THE DOOR TO THE GUEST ROOM
-the last five pages really don’t make sense or offer closure or fit with whatever scraps of concrete characterization Quincy had
I really didn’t think I had that much of a rant in me, but sweet lord I am so disappointed in this book.
I THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE GREAT, BOOK. WHY COULDN’T YOU BE GREAT.
Bottom line: how much thrill could this “thriller” thrill if a thriller actually thrilled?
But seriously, this isn’t a book I’d steer anyone away from. It just wasn’t for me. It may be for you!!!