FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager
Publisher: Ebury Press
A solid debut of a new promising voice of crime fiction. Excellent plotting and killer finale, with two storylines and two unreliable characters.
An eye-catching cover, pink flashes on the front cover and pink rimmed pages for a thriller is a combination that definitely grabbed my attention. Sager surely is a new promising voice of crime, mixing pop-culture and psychological thriller she created “Final Girls”. If you are familiar with horror movies you might already know that a "final girl" is usually the young woman who makes it out of the massacre alive, the one who lives to tell the story at the end of the movie. Quincy, Lisa and Samantha have been through hell, and yet, survived.
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 asurvivors known in the press as the Final Girls, together with two other survivors Lisa and Samantha. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well but her brain erased every memory of that night, and Quincy is convinced, is for the best.
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. Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past and is ager to make her remember what happen at Pine Cottage. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy starts to suspect about the evasive Sam and her truths trying to remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of this novel at first. This book was everywhere and not always a big buzz means a good book. The story starts slow and linear when it lay down the pieces of information necessary to understand the main character, Quincy, her past, life, and psychology. The pace changes completely and unfolds quickly halfway through, opening a Pandora's vase full of lies, fake memories and twisted truths. From that point on, I was hooked, the writing was brilliant, a fair amount of dialogues and descriptions. Not only one, but two unreliable characters, make the perfect psychological thriller, Quincy, with her memory loss and Samantha with her lies. I was plenty of suspicions and eager to know more, chapter after chapter.
Most of the story is told from Quincy's point of view, but Sager also alternates it with snippets from the night Quincy’s friends were slaughtered. A powerful tool that helps to shake the narrative to provide to the reader information that Quincy herself can’t access, underlining discrepancy with what she claims to remember and the dynamics among her group of friends. We already know what is going to happen at Pine Cottage but looking at the events unfolding is nerve-wracking and helps better define Quincy's character as the main story goes on, ten years later. The two storylines, present and past are gradually revealed until they finally come together and what really happened in the past is revealed and leads to a heart-stopping finale.
This said, don't feel so sure to know what really happened. Red bells are everywhere...to mislead you.
A good solid debut and an absolutely recommended thriller.