The Danger of Memories

Final Girls - Riley Sager

Final Girls, written under the pseudonym Riley Sager, is another entry into the popular: “Unreliable female narrator has no memory after a tragic event, and tries to figure out what occurred while battling substance abuse, only to discover that her trust in others has been betrayed” premise that so many mysteries are employing these days.  Sager adds to this familiar plot the titular concept of the “Final Girls,” a nickname given by the press to three survivors of horrific past mass murder sprees.  Quincy Carpenter, one of those three former victims, does not remember most of the events from that terrifying night. Ten years later, she seems to be doing quite well- she has a popular baking website, a loving boyfriend and plenty of lawsuit money to live comfortably.  She has remained friends with the policeman who came to her rescue, and he is the one who informs her that another one of the “Final Girls” has recently committed suicide.  Quincy and Lisa had never met in person, but as fellow survivors they supported each other.  The third member of the group, Samantha, went into hiding and had not been seen in a long while. When Sam unexpectedly shows up at Quinn’s apartment to meet her for the first time, she wants to discuss Lisa’s death and Quinn ends up taking her in.  Sam has apparently been living a rough existence, homeless and still haunted by her own experience with a killer.  Sam soon takes it upon herself to try to shake up Quinn’s peaceful existence by helping her remember what she had endured.  Fueled by too much prescription medication and alcohol, Quinn starts receiving flashbacks that reveal some truths that she would have preferred to keep buried in the recesses of her mind. Through Quincy and Sam’s characters, Sager explores what it means to “survive,” and if repression can really be sustained as a protective measure over the long term.  The author questions if a person can undergo such a traumatic experience and still go on to live a “normal” life.  Final Girls is a fast-paced and exciting read, one that will appeal to fans of Gone Girl, Girl on a Train and The Woman in the Window.