A decade ago, Quincy barely survived a massacre. The media lumps her in with two other massacre-survivors, dubbed “final girls” in a nod to horror movies, as the things these women have survived are that horrific. Quincy remembers next to nothing about the night five of her friends were slaughtered in front of her, and she wants nothing to do with the other two “final girls.” But then one of them dies under suspicious circumstances, and the other ends up on her doorstep.
As far as I can tell, this is Sager’s debut novel under this particular pseudonym, though he’s apparently published under his real name before. It’s also the third book of his that I’ve read, only missing one of the four published since this one in 2017. In Lock Every Door (2019), I had mixed feelings – a fascinating book that went a direction I disliked. Home Before Dark (2020) was flat-out awesome, a mystery with psuedo-paranormal elements and a dual narrative. Final Girls (2017) came highly recommended by Steph the Bookworm, and since I liked Home Before Dark so much, I decided to give it a chance. My end-feelings are mixed much the way they were for Lock Every Door, but not for the same reasons.
This feels like a debut novel, even if it technically isn’t. It’s also not a mystery, but a thriller, and my longtime readers will know that I find many, many tropes in thrillers to be excruciating. Luckily, the book didn’t rely on too many of those tropes! Unfortunately, I fell into the trap I always fall into with thrillers: reading way too fast, until I feel sick and oversaturated with the story. This is the number one way a book will be ruined purely by the reading experience, regardless of what’s inside. If I don’t slow down a little, I’ll regret it. And I do regret it with this book, because as thrillers go, it’s an interesting one. Sure, the culprit(s) were pretty obvious from the beginning – there aren’t a whole lot of choices, after all – but most of the action, characterization, and psychology felt spot-on, with only a few tiny off-moments. As far as thrillers go, I’ll take this one over The Girl on the Train any day.
I’m just not really a fan of thrillers, as I’ve learned over the years. I probably won’t read the one Sager book I haven’t yet tried, because it sounds like it trends more thriller than mystery. Perhaps his genre** is evolving over time. Maybe the next one will be as wonderful to me as Home Before Dark. I guess we’ll see. However, if you enjoy thrillers, I do highly recommend this one. It didn’t work for me so much, but it may be awesome for you!
**I have since discovered that Sager’s previous books, published under his real name, were what looks to be mystery/crime fiction, so perhaps it’s less like “evolving” and more like “bringing in elements of previously published genres.” In any case, I might go take a look at that particular series (Kat Campbell series by Todd Ritter, which starts with Death Notice), and see if it works for me during RIP season. I’d love to have another good crime/mystery series to devour!