4.13.2023 | Thursday

Final Girls

category: Book Reviews

Final Girlstitle: Final Girls
author: Riley Sager
published: 11 July 2017
publisher: Dutton
genre(s): thrillers
pages: 339
source: Book of the Month
format: hardcover
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

rating: five-stars

the blurb

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.

❗❗ content warning: some graphic violence ❗❗

a few notes

keywords/phrases: serial murder, betrayal
mood reading:
dark, twisty, engrossing

  • ITW Thriller Award for Best Novel (2017)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Horror (2016)
  • Litsy Award for Horror (2016)

my review

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with horror and thrillers, whether in cinematic or written form. So when I got this book, it was because I found the title and the premise behind it fascinating. The final girl trope started with movies, the last girl or woman left alive. Final Girls is about three of these girls: Quincy, Lisa, and Sam. Each of them is the sole survivor of different horrific murders, linked by their shared experiences and trauma, even as they’ve never met.

They’ve each dealt with their “final girl” reality in different ways. For Quincy, that means throwing herself into becoming a social media baking influencer, her relationship with her boyfriend, and her ongoing friendship with the cop who saved her that terrible night. She considers it a blessing that her memories of the horrors she survived are incredibly limited. But then her carefully curated life is thrown into turmoil, when one of the final girls dies under mysterious circumstances, and the other suddenly shows up on Quincy’s literal doorstep.

There are so many twists and turns, red herrings that take the reader to unexpected places. There were so many times when I thought I had it figured out, only to discover that I had no clue whatsoever. I love, love, love that in a thriller.

The book has so many layers, largely because of the dual storylines. One takes place in the present day as Quincy struggles to figure who to believe and who to trust as she fights to remember. The other takes place in the past, at the time of the horrific events she lived through.

It is an utterly engrossing read, trying to puzzle out the story. I truly couldn’t put it down!


We were, for whatever reason, the lucky ones who survived when no one else had. Pretty girls covered in blood. As such, we were each in turn treated like something rare and exotic. A beautiful bird that spreads its bright wings only once a decade. Or that flower that stinks like rotting meat whenever it decides to bloom.

page 16

About Riley Sager

Riley Sager is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, most recently THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE and SURVIVE THE NIGHT. His first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel and has been published in more than thirty countries. His latest novel, THE ONLY ONE LEFT, will be published in June.

A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

Rating Report
Overall: five-stars

reading challenges:

  • 2023 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge
  • 2023 Alphabet Soup: Author Edition Reading Challenge
  • 2023 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
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