Final Girls, Riley Sager: Book Review

A thriller with a twist that is truly shocking.

final girls riley sager book reviewDutton / Twitter (@riley_sager)
Final Girls Book Cover Final Girls
Riley Sager
July 11th 2017

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.

Todd Ritter

Editor’s Note: The author image above is (clearly) not of “Riley Sager” but of the indomitable Jamie Lee Curtis of Halloween era. Also, fun fact: Riley Sager is simply a pseudonym used by author Todd Ritter, pictured below. Enjoy the review.

Final Girls, the debut novel of Riley Sager, proved to be a thriller that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

The main character, and labeled “final girl,” is Quincy Carpertner, a seemingly average woman who runs a cute baking blog and is in a committed relationship with an average man. Sounds pretty dull, right? Not at all. The reason why Quincy has been unwillingly known as a ‘final girl’ is that back in college, she was the lone survivor of a massacre that left her friends brutally murdered. Qunicy definitely comes with some baggage, but it’s obvious that she is trying to ignore the trauma of her past. Moving past this horrific event is made a bit easier for her given the fact that she can’t even remember any of the details of the massacre. This amnesia proves very important (if not a bit frustrating) throughout the novel.

The book alternates between Quincy’s current life and the day her life, tragically, changed forever. I found this frequent flip-flopping between events a bit annoying since it kept feeling like I was being dragged out of one story and suddenly plopped into the middle of another, but eventually, the two storylines converge and it makes more sense.

Where does Qunicy’s current life situation put her? Well, everything seems to be running smoothly until Sam – a fellow final girl – turns up unexpectedly due to the fact that the third final girl, Lisa, had recently committed suicide. Sam’s arrival causes Quincy to unravel since she is forced to come to terms with the fact that she is a final girl. I did not like Sam from the beginning, mostly because she seems like a bad influence and does not seem trustworthy. It was, however, interesting to explore the ‘final girl’ culture and what sort of effect this fascination with the morbid has on the ones who are actually the ‘final girls.’

Suspense gradually begins to build towards the end of the book, and several revelations (some shocking, some predictable) come to light. But the final twist is what got me the most. I did not see it coming at all, and it’s one of those reveals that make you question everything you just read. I was almost tempted to re-read the book with a fresh pair of eyes after this twist. This twist is what made this book go from a three-star average read to a four-star read that managed to set itself apart. In hindsight, this sudden development seems a little hard to believe, but when it comes to thrillers like this, I think the most important accomplishment is that of catching the reader by surprise. This novel achieved that.

This was one of those books where I was holding my breath as the final (and most shocking) twist was revealed. I think I even had to set down the book because I was that affected by the dark and twisted turn the novel had taken. If you ask me, dark and twisted are two things every memorable psychological thriller should try to master, and Final Girls managed to do it.

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Alicia LeBoeuf
the authorAlicia LeBoeuf
Contributing Writer
I'm a college student pursuing an English major and Communication minor. I love everything book-related and I'm a passionate writer.