A slow-burning thriller with a decent final pay-off. 3.5/5.
Thank you to Random House UK and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Final Girls will be published on 13th July.
The blurb: Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead…
They were the victims of separate massacres. Grouped together by the press, and dubbed the Final Girls, they are treated like something fresh out of a slasher movie.
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…
The premise here is terrific. The question “what happens to the lone survivor once the credits of a horror movie end”? makes for a great set up and interesting story. However, I felt the overall pacing of the narrative was slightly off.
It takes the book 42% of its length to catch up with what we’re told in the blurb. I wondered if this section could have been compressed. And I didn’t feel like the story became truly gripping until about two thirds of the way through. Up until then, the characters just seemed to wander about getting themselves into avoidable scrapes. Every now and then we’re given a flash-back to the events preceding the horrifying murders at Pine Cottage, but this felt as if someone was saying “please stick with the story, we’ll get to the action soon”.
However, one thing this opening act did accomplish very effectively was to make me suspicious of pretty much everyone. In this sense, various strands of the story are handled well, lending just enough credibility to the characters’ claims while leaving sufficient gaps in their histories to put us on edge. I had thought up ways that at least 4 different characters could be the “baddy” – and that’s great. It would have been disappointing if it had been obvious from the word go.
The last third made up for the tension I had felt was missing in the first two acts of the book. This is where the story really takes off and the actions kicks in. This part of the book is what lifted it above being simply a 3-star “ok” read to something more impressive and gripping. I was pleased with the reveal – it all made sense and was well-handled, even if I wasn’t exactly a stunner (I didn’t gasp or think “NO WAY!” when the baddy was revealed, I just shrugged and thought, “Yeah. Figures.”).
I’ve been trying to think about why the first two thirds weren’t that involving and I think I found the main character – Quincy – hard to warm to. Understandably, her past experience has left her isolated and edgy, but I didn’t find her very sympathetic. Only in that final third, when she finally started to take action without having to be cajoled into it, did I start to warm to her.
Overall: if you like your thrillers to be gripping from page one, this will be an exercise in patience for you. If you like your thrillers full of suspicion and slow burn, then get yourself a copy of Final Girls now.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul