The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication date: 13 July 2021
Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
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. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?
Lynnette Tarkington 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 five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized-someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.
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.
I am a big fan of Grady Hendrix’s books, especially after reading The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, so it is safe to say that The Final Girls Support Group was one of my most anticipated books of the summer. Unfortunately, this one just wasn’t for me.
The Final Girls Support Group is a love letter to 80s and 90s slasher flicks. This book has all the gore, the cheese, and over the top plot of films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Friday the 13th, and others. In fact, each final girl in the support group is based on one familiar film franchise, but with a twist.
In the book, the final girls’ real life stories come first, and the film franchises come later. But what happens to these women who experience very real trauma? Hendrix always infuses his books with social commentary and The Final Girls Support Group is no exception. As Hendrix serves up references to these horror films, he is also eviscerating the sexualised violence against women created for the male gaze, as well as the very real fears that women face. I really loved the intent, but it felt a little clumsy and not very authentic, unlike the messages in his other stories.
In terms of the plot and characters, this book felt more shallow than other Hendrix books I’ve read. The plot kicks into high gear after little setup, and the breakneck pace doesn’t let up. I didn’t connect as strongly with the plot as I have with his other books, and I feel like the focus on the plot rather than characters may be a reason. The characters had amazing backstories, but were totally flat. Lynnette, our first person POV character, is a very secretive woman who is running for her life for the majority of the book — this doesn’t exactly leave a lot of room for deep introspection. However, I still feel like we could have gotten to know her and the other women in the group. They were pawns to be moved about for the story’s sake, much like the film final girls they’re based on, and I feel like this could have been a real opportunity to give them so much more.
The Final Girls Support Group is a fast paced horror thriller that I’d recommend to lovers of slasher films and horror movies in general. While it wasn’t for me, I’m still eagerly looking forward to his next book.
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