Published by Berkley Books (13th July 2021)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The Final Girl. She is the one left standing after the carnage is over. The one who is still alive when the credits roll while all of her friend lay bloody and dead around her. She is the one who killed the killer. But after the splatter fest is over, and the cops and ambulance personnel are gone, and the final girl is left to go back to her life. What happens to her? Lynette Tarkington is a final girl. She survived a massacre twenty two years ago and it has defined her entire life since. For the last decade, her and five other final girls have been meeting, along with their therapist, to work through their trauma and try to put their lives back together. Until one day, one of the final girls misses a meeting and Lynette’s worst fears are realised. Now they need each other more than ever as they try to unravel who is trying to take their lives apart. The thing is, unlike before, they have each other now, and no matter what happens, they will never give up.
I was SO excited to read this one. I’m a sucker for a good ‘ol slasher flick and this just gave me huge slasher vibes. Plus, who doesn’t want to know what happens to the final girl once everything is said and done. Yeah we’ve had sequels to all the greats, but what happens at the end? So I was stoked to be able to get a look at the slasher genre from a different angle, and see what happens once all the blood is washed away. However, this turned out to be a bit different than I was expecting, and I really struggled with it. I’m surprised that I was able to rate it even three stars. The first half of the book was painful to read. I honestly considered DNFing it, but I have it in paperback form and really didn’t want to not finish it. Something about physical copies of books makes it harder for me to put them down, even when I’m struggling incredibly badly with them.
The first thing that irked me – Lynette. I absolutely HATED her. She is whiney, paranoid and just downright mental, and I guess you could say that she has a right to be after surviving a massacre, especially the one that she went through. And even though the way that she existed afterwards and moved through life came across as an incredibly believable response to something so traumatic, I just wanted her to shut up and deal with life instead of hiding from it and being so unbelievably, I mean, psychotically paranoid. It drove me insane. She is the the main reason I almost put this book down and didn’t finish it. She is unlikeable and I wanted her to die so I didn’t have to listen to it anymore. And here is where I’ll say, after the halfway mark of the book, she began to annoy me a little less, and I actually started to sympathise with her a little bit. I still thought she was absolutely, certifiably bonkers, but I began to care about her survival. And that last quarter of the book? I really got to see her character evolve and grow, and finally let go of the trauma and the fear that had been holding her back for over twenty years, and I feel like I have never witnessed character growth and development like this before. She became someone who was so strong and just refused to lay down and die, and I was rooting for her. I finally felt like she was a character I could really get behind. This is one reason why I rated the book higher than I originally planned. Her growth alone was astonishing and done in such a way that it felt real.
The other characters that we meet were all so well written, yes there were a couple I wanted to throttle (not as much as Lynette though), but overall I felt like the cast was diverse and full of dimension and I really loved meeting them all and going through this journey with them. It was definitely a change following a story from the perspective of someone who is so unhinged and unable to deal with life, and I really felt the other characters looking in on the train wreck that is Lynette and I was screaming at them to do something, just to help her somehow, even though I knew that they couldn’t. I did not pick the reveal either. I went through so many different characters who I thought could have been behind everything, and I was wrong. I think I might have at one point considered someone for something, but it was fleeting, and I soon dismissed it. So the mystery in this story was incredibly well written, and with such an unreliable narrator I spent so much of the story wondering what was real and what was not. So the story itself was incredibly clever and I feel like the unreliable narrator really worked for it.
The other thing that really irked me and made me want to DNF this book, was the fact that all of the final girls’ stories – the things that they had survived – were heavily based on popular film franchises. We had Scream, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. I was annoyed because, while this really showed the reader that Hendrix has incredible in depth knowledge of the horror/slasher genre, it just made me feel that they couldn’t write their own character backstories and had to borrow them from these movies. Why not create your own slashers? Why borrow them? I understand that Hendrix is an author who tends to have pretty strong messages in their books, and I feel like this one had a lot to do with the woman always being the victim, always being the one targeted and attacked, but I couldn’t see past the fact that these fictional characters were based on someone else’s stories and not the author’s own. And I know that means that the real message behind this book probably went over my head, and that’s fine. It still irked me.
I feel like Hendrix does a great job at really writing a flawed character, which I generally love, this time it was just becoming over the top and irritating for me. I really wanted something original with this book, and while parts of it gave me that, most of it did not and I’m really disappointed by that. I wanted to love this book and it turned into a convoluted mess for the most part. Though I did enjoy the last half of the book so much so that I actually did recommend it to a friend. I did however warn said friend that the first half of the book is annoying, and there’s no originality when it comes to the characters backstories, oh, and Lynette is the most annoying protagonist that I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. Her growth really did make me reconsider all my thoughts on this book when I closed the cover though, so that’s something. I closed that back cover and was so mad because this book really threw me for a loop with the emotional whiplash I got.
All in all, if you’re a fan of slashers, have always wanted to know what happens to the final girl once the credits are over, and don’t mind a protagonist that you’d really wish would step in front of a bullet or the borrowed back stories, give it a crack, you never know, you might love it.
*= Read book. Repeat may earn commission on purchases made through these links.