FINAL GIRLS - by Riley Sager

FINAL GIRLS - Riley Sager
Published: 2017 - by Ebury Press.
Pages: 352.
Genres: Adult / thriller / mystery  contemporary fiction / horror
Triggers/Content Advisory: Frequent scenes of graphic violence and gore, a number of explicit sex scenes, and infrequent bad language.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead... They were the victims of separate massacres. Three strangers bound by similar traumas grouped together by the press. 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.

This is the kind of book that the more I think about, the more I admire and love. Since I turned that final page it hasn't left my thoughts. I've considered it constantly, recalled incidents from beginning to end, and reanalysed the characters' actions, thoughts, and incident after incident. The more I think about it, the more I adore the book.

The writing is just the style I love: first person, present tense, short punchy sentences, and no frills or flowery prose. It's fantastic and chilling.
The dialogue is also brilliant. It's witty, concise, and razor-sharp with strong characterisation coming through. I absolutely love it, and I love its haunting subtext.

You think it only happens in the movies. That it couldn't happen in real life. At least, not like this. And not to you. But it happened

There are no big twists, except towards the end. The story is extremely tense and there's this awesome sense of dread and doubt from beginning to end, but the jaw-dropping only really happens at the end. Because I love the writing so much, I didn't have a problem with this, but I can see why many readers would consider it slow and maybe even underwhelming - at least until the climax. I guess the right term would be that it's a 'quiet' thriller; there is action, but until the end it's understated.

The information is a bit repetitive. Different characters get turns to discuss and respond to the events, and there's no real new info or shocking revelations (except at the end climax). But again, I didn't mind this - the other aspects of the book are so strong, and I cared enough about the compelling characters and their secrets to watch them deal with the recycled information in turn. It didn't bore me.

The finale is absolutely spectacular. I love how the flashbacks come full circle - as they should - and all the pieces slip into place. But it is the kind of book you'll do well to step back and consider after you've finished reading. While I was busy flying through the climax, I was confused and slightly baffled at the twists, but since then the book has been in my thoughts constantly. Only afterwards could I left myself breathe, think, analyse, and realise the utter genius of the mystery. It definitely helped me to step back.
And the mystery is amazing. It's so clever, so carefully constructed, and I've re-lived it so many times in my mind because I just love it so much. After finishing the book, I re-thought through the story, dragging up all the clues and hints and foreshadowing, and it hasn't completely left my thoughts since.

“I’m not talking about the press now. I’m talking about life. The world. It’s full of misfortune and unfairness and women like us getting hurt by men who should know better. And very few people actually give a shit. Even fewer of us actually get angry and take action.”

The characters are deeply fascinating. Secondary ones like Jeff and Jonah are flat, but you can still see enough of their personalities to know what kind of people they are. I like that - I like vivid people with clear personalities that help you get a grip on their character, even if they aren't incredibly interesting or dynamic. They feel human, though. Everyone in this book does.

I love the anti-heroines of the book: Quincy and Sam. Both of them are extremely damaged women who are each wrestling their sub textual demons, and I love how their inner motivations and turmoil surface throughout the story. They're both compelling and three-dimensional.
Another excellent thing about the characters is their unreliability. You literally cannot trust anyone. I could not guess who or what had happened during Quincy's ordeal, and when I found out at the end it was a chilling shock.

Final Girls is a chilling thriller with an incredible, twisted mystery and dark, flawed characters. The dialogue is striking, the violence horrifying, and the shocking story will forever leave an impassioned stain upon your mind. 

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