- Megan Bingham
The Camp Crystal Lake murders of Friday the 13th. Michael Myers' small-town homicidal spree in Halloween. The frightening Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These are prime examples of classic horror movies depicting maniacs chasing down innocent teenagers. In the end, there's always one survivor. Friday the 13th had Alice; Halloween had Laurie; Texas Chainsaw had Sally. These individuals are commonly known to horror movie fans as the Final Girls. But these examples are from Hollywood. What if it happened in real life?
In Quincy Carpenter's case, it did. Emerging as a lone survivor in the Pine Cottage Murders of Pennsylvania, Quincy remembers nothing about the event which was committed by an individual whom she only refers to as "Him." The only thing she can remember is running from the woods, covered in blood, into the arms of rookie Officer Cooper, or "Coop," as she affectionately calls him. And, of course, everything about Him. When the tabloids pick up on her plight, she is dubbed a "Final Girl" and paired with two other girls who faced the same fate: Lisa Milner, a victim of a brutal sorority house attack, and Samantha "Sam" Boyd, a survivor of a hotel mass murder. Although she is convinced by Lisa to meet on the set of Oprah with Samantha for a "Final Girl" interview, Quincy never makes it. She damns the "Final Girl" label and tries to move on with her life.
Ten years later, Quincy is living with a lawyer boyfriend in a New York City apartment, managing her own baking blog. Coop checks up on her regularly, and, if he has any news, it's usually not good. When he tells Quincy that one of the Final Girls, Lisa Milner has committed suicide suddenly, she begins to get nervous. Out of the three victims, Lisa was the most open about her experience—writing a book and appearing on talk shows. But now, she's dead, and there's only Quincy and Samantha left. And Samantha has suddenly shown up in New York searching for Quincy, after years of being off the grid.
Through their unexpected bond, Quincy and Sam support each other in Sager's Final Girls. At the same time, they try to figure out why Lisa killed herself . . . or why someone had the intention to kill her. As Quincy slowly begins to remember what happened to her during the Pine Cottage Murders, she begins to unravel, and her paranoia becomes almost unbearable. Whom can she rely on, and does Sam have anything to do with Lisa's so-called suicide? Could it be Him, back from the dead, coming after Quincy?
Riley Sager's Final Girls is a sensational thriller, filled with horrifying twists and turns. The suffering brought by the unwanted fame reveals Quincy's and Sam's innermost fears and flaws. While the lead up to the climax may be a little slow, Sager does it purposefully in order to steadily reveal the memories Quincy has lost from her ordeal. The chapters smartly alternate back and forth between present-day in the city and the past in the Pennsylvania countryside at Pine Cottage. As the past's action heats up, so does the present-day story, creating a fast-paced twist ending that no one will see coming.