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.
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.