Final Girls: One that sticks too close to the source material for me

Final Girls Book review

What is this about?: Quincy is a final girl — you know, the survivor of a mass attack of some sort? That’s her. She, alone with Lisa and Sam are three Final Girls within in the book, and when the book opens, Lisa is killed and Sam comes knocking. This book will mess with your head, but as much as I appreciated that, there was more I didn’t appreciate as Quincy sets about investigating Sam and her own lost memories.

What else is this about?: Given this is based on horror tropes, there’s a healthy does of that. When I first saw that, I thought Sager would subvert some of those tropes, but he didn’t.

Stars:

Plotwise: solid 3.5

Other bits: not a whole lot, let’s put it that way

Blurb: Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead…

They were the victims of separate massacres. Three strangers bound by similar traumas grouped together by the press.

When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And after the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.

Quincy Carpenter is one of three final girls existing within the timeframe of this book. She is working determinedly to build her baking business, have a relationship and build some sort of normality for herself even if the foundations are based on Xanax and grape soda.

Then Lisa Milner (one of the three final girls) is killed and Quincy (and us) are reminded of her past and of how Lisa tried to reach out to her to show her how to be a final girl. After finding out about her death, Sam, the long lost third final girl stumbles into her life and begins to mess with her head big time.

Quincy and Sam 

These two bring out the worst in each other, or Sam brings out the worst in Quincy, perhaps. Or was it always there? These are the sorts of questions Sager plays with — skillfully enough — that I found myself wondering on and off about these two and who was it that killed Lisa, which is the central plot point this revolves around.

Quincy wants to find out who killed Lisa, and as suspicions about Sam surface,  she becomes consumed by it.  The interplay between them is goes well for the most part, but I confess too that Quincy at times seemed over-written, every reaction exacerbated and I felt a little like nails on the chalkboard listening to the narrator voice her character — and I can honestly say it was the character and not the narrator, who was the reason I kept on going.

This is where it gets problematic and also spoilers for Quincy’s characterisation

There are flashbacks, but they actually make sense! But within these flashbacks are things that don’t gel with Quincy as a whole.

So, in Pine Cottage years ago, we discover that Quincy is a girl who doesn’t give up her virginity to the boyfriend pushing for them to have sex — who goes off and has sex with her BFF — which in turn gets Quincy so mad she has sex with a stranger, her friends and her invite to the cottage they are staying at — sound familiar? Sex with the wrong guy gets you killed — and there’s a big discussion in the book about first times and an emphasis on how disappointed she is that she’s not going to be her boyfriend’s first time.

After that, the massacre occurs, and while the author subverts this aspect of the story, Quincy is saddled with this perception of herself from Pine Cottage that carries through her entire life: she is now a woman who needs Xanax to get through the day, estranged from her mother and her boyfriend only provides her the aura of normality than an actual relationship. In fact, sex is so boring with her boyfriend who is so considerate, because she instead wishes she was with a bigger man who would take what he wants and fuck her.

What does this say about Quincy? No frigging clue.

Throw in her actions when she’s with Sam, and she becomes more of a ball of mixed characterisations I can’t understand. I’m not going to say what they are, because they would be spoilers, and yes, granted Sam is a manipulator, but it’s there.

I’ve been puzzling over this and I still can’t make sense of her characterisation — obviously there’s a lot of rage and anger in Quincy, but she never lets it out, not even at the end. Instead she quashes it down and is sort of fizzes out and disappears as if it was never there.

Final Girls is saved by a plot and writing that really did have me wondering who killed Lisa Milner, and I swear, I did think everyone was a killer, including Quincy at one point. That’s a testament to Sager’s skill, but Quincy’s characterisation left me confused.

What do you think of this particular horror trope?

18 Comments

  • I had some issues with this one. I think the pacing, in the beginning, was too slow but picked up nicely t the end. I didn’t see who the killer was which was nice. There were definitely issues with Quincy too. Great review!

    • Verushka says:

      I hear you, at a certain point, I just wanted something to happen to do with the investigation into Lisa’s death. I was the same — I didn’t see the killer coming, which is why I thought the plot and the tension in this were so well written, but Quincy was disappointing when the Pine Cottage reveal came about — really, sex with the wrong guy leads to death? Aren’t we over that yet?

  • If you read my review, you know I didn’t care much for this one either. I didn’t like the characters and I really expected this to be an excellent read and think it fell short. My favorite character was the cop who initially helped Quincy that night – what does that say about me?

    Also, I literally snickered when I read the grape soda and Xanax comment – there’s at least one thing about the book I’ll never forget!

    • Verushka says:

      I did read your review, and, yeah, the Stephen King line on the cover totally made me want to read this too. Sighs. I just can’t figure this characterisation out — I mean, I thought he had a great handle on the plot and keeping the tension going in the story, but I think he was too hampered by the tropes he was following and couldn’t get out of it to have his characters make sense — the cop was the one thing that did make sense, but everyone around him, not so much. Quincy just didn’t work for me. Blah.

  • Wow, I’m disappointed to hear that this wasn’t a more subversive read! Based on the synopsis I thought it would be, but it sounds like this features a very uncritical look at the portrayal of female sexuality and mainstream horror.

    • Verushka says:

      I was hoping so much that it would be more subversive, but nope. NOPE. It frustrated me immensely bc once I got into it I thought the plot as a whole was sooo ripe for the author to mess about with so much in the horror genre, especially with regards to female characters. I really did think horror had moved past the whole sex-with-the-wrong-guy thing

  • I’m curious about this one. I feel like it would be a library read or something though, instead of one I buy.

    • Verushka says:

      There are good things here — the author has a great handle on keeping the tension going and readers guessing, but yeah, I agree a library read.

  • Greg says:

    I can see where this would be a bit problematic. Sorry it was disappointing, although at least the killer’s identity was a surprise. Too bad Quincy’s characterization wasn’t nailed down a bit more…

    • Verushka says:

      I think the plot and the writing around the main plot was actually really compelling. But characterisation played a big part of this, and it just fell flat.

  • Characters really can make or break a book can’t they. I’m more of a blood and gore fast paced horror girl so this one wasn’t on my radar. I think I would’ve wanted to feed the MC to Jon Snow’s dire wolf…

  • I was so excited to read this book and it ended up not working for me at all. I agree with a lot of the things you said especially about the characters.

  • I really enjoyed this book but agree with you about Quincy. She was nearly impossible to figure out most of the time.

  • Tori @ InToriLex says:

    This sounds really suspenseful, and your review has piqued my interest in reading. Although I do hate not fully fleshed out characters so we will see!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

  • Kelly says:

    I think about from exploring the sexual relationships, this would have been a pretty great read for me too Verushka but it sounds as though it’s implying rape fantasies which is a big no no for me personally. Probably a lot of female readers actually and I’m hoping that’s not the case. Quincy sounds like a character that I couldn’t connect with, who isn’t entirely sure who she is. Such a character of contrasts that doesn’t sounds as though it resolves itself either. Sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this one a little more Verushka, still an intriguing read. Wonderful review! <3

  • This doesn’t sound like my kind of story, I’m pretty picky about horror and it really has work all around for me to enjoy it.

  • This is one book that I’m glad I didn’t one-click buy. I may read it at some point either from the library or the used book store but I’m no longer clamoring for it.

  • Melliane says:

    I didn’t know about this one but it looks a bit confusing…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *