I see Riley Sager's books popping up in my timeline all the time but I've never actually read any of his work until now. FINAL GIRLS intrigued me because I kind of loved the idea of a group of "final girls" (those girls in horror flicks who end up becoming the last women standing) overcoming the tragedies of their pasts, only to end up finding themselves playing the real life scream queens yet again in a new slew of horrors.
Horror was my go-to genre before I fell in love with romance and even though I no longer like it as much as I used to, I still return to it occasionally whenever I find myself in a slump. I know it's strange, but I find it comforting. It kind of transports me back to my high school years, when focusing on slasher films and pulpy novels about killer cults and demonic worms took my mind of the everyday anxieties of being an unhappy teenager. FINAL GIRLS is especially fun because it's like 90s horror movie meets crime thriller.
Our heroine, Quincey, is one of the final girls. About ten years ago, she and her friends went to a cabin in the woods-- and all of them were brutally killed except for Quincey herself. She has dissociative amnesia and can't remember the events from that night, which some people found suspicious. Others were more sympathetic. Either way, she's now trying to rebuild her life, and bar some substance abuse and emotional PTSD, she's become a successful baking blogger with a successful lawyer fiance, and it seems like everything's coming up roses.
...Until another final girl, Lisa, dies. Killing herself allegedly. And then, a few days later, Sam shows up on her doorstep. Wanting to help, she claims, and haunted by her own miserable past of being the only one to survive a series of gruesome tortures at a motel. But Lisa's death doesn't add up and Sam's motivations are questionable, and pretty soon it becomes clear that all three women have more secrets than their dark pasts, and at least one of them might be in mortal danger.
Was this book literature? No. Did I devour it in a single day? YAS. I said to someone that this kind of reminds me of Rachel Caine's Stillhouse Lake series in that it's about a woman recovering from past encounters with violent crime, only to find herself victim to it yet again while trying to recover. Like the heroine in that novel, she's also flawed as all get out and morally ambiguous, but still easy to root for even as you might question whether she's truly the victim others would like her to be. It had the right amount of suspense to keep me turning the pages and some interesting twists that weren't what I was expecting. This turned out to be exactly the book I needed for my current mood.
I would definitely read more by this author. If you like slasher movies or fast-paced crime thrillers, you'll probably like this, too.
3.5 out of 5 stars