Review: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Summary: In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her? Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with other final girls in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone is determined to take their lives apart again. But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

Genre: horror, thriller
Rating: ★★★★

Grady Hendrix is spreading like wildfire through the horror community, and I fully support it. I was admittedly a little hesitant to read this when it first came out because it sounded exactly the same as Final Girls by Riley Sager, but I actually enjoyed this more, and it’s purely because Hendrix packs all the punches of the horror genre. He isn’t afraid to make bold storylines, insane twists, and include all the gore.

What differentiates Hendrix from other writers in t he genre is that he truly goes after the horror aspect, but he also always gives off 80s horror campy vibes in his stories, which makes them so much fun. If you read this book at face value, I can understand not liking it. And it’s not that it takes a certain type of reader to enjoy it; it’s just that you have to go into it not taking a single thing seriously. The characters are all extremely over the top, always hyperbolic in their personalities, making their behaviors and responses downright hilarious.

“Does it hurt? I ask.
“Getting shot in the legs?” she asks. “What, because I’m paralyzed? You think it doesn’t hurt? Here’s an idea, Lynnette. Why don’t you go get shot in something you don’t use, like your head, and report back, okay?”

Despite the campy, fun vibes of this book, it’s still an intense thriller, and it’s extremely well done. Lynnette, our main character, is an unreliable protagonist. She’s spent her entire life being holed up, careful to avoid being hunted by anyone again. She refuses to get lost in thought when she’s in public because it means she might miss a distinct clue. She builds a glass shield around her apartment door so no one can get in and hurt her. She’s almost too far off the deep end, and while you can’t help but feel some amount of pity for her on the life she has left, you also don’t know how much of what she’s experiencing and thinking is fact or pure paranoia.

There are a few red herrings here, and the twist was pleasantly surprising, both of which tend to disappoint me with a majority of today’s thrillers. The book is action-packed from the very first page, making for an insanely fast read. It was hard to put this book down because every single chapter ended in the middle of some crazy action.

The final girls in this book all have stories almost identical to real life horror movies: one girl’s story is similar to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, another to Friday the 13th and Halloween. There are an abundance of Easter eggs in this book as a result, and alternating chapters include interviews, news articles, movie reviews, and more of each of the girls’ stories. This was a fun way to give the girls extra background, and I appreciate how much work went into it. I will say, I initially started listening to an audiobook of this, and while I loved the narrator, having these snippets between chapters was not ideal for an audiobook. However, I loved them in the physical copy.

My only reason for not giving this five stars is because at times it became too muddled for me. I felt that there were almost too many final girls, and it became hard to keep track of them since they all have such similar stories. And as much as I enjoyed the constant action in this story, it would have been nice to have some breathing space between intense scenes.

That being said, I can’t wait for what Hendrix creates after this.

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