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 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 five other actual 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 was sent an ARC of this novel via NetGalley and Titan Books – thank you so much for the opportunity to read this one early*
The Final Girl Support Group was almost exactly what I wanted and expected after reading the synopsis – with a heavy focus on slasher films, horror references and tropes of the genre which I really liked. And of course multiple ‘Final Girls’ who each had their own unique backstory and hellish experience which led them to find solace in the support group. When history seems to be repeating itself and one of their own gets murdered, it’s up to Lynette our main character and final girl to save the day. I haven’t read any of Grady Hendrix’s other books so I went in with no expectations whatsoever.
As a fan of horror and slasher films in general – you name it, I’ve probably seen it, this book was enjoyable in the ways it explores what happens to the ‘final girl’ after the credits roll. This is explored a little in the Halloween films and the Scream sequels with Laurie Strode and Sidney Prescott becoming the archetypal final girls who becomes guarded, paranoid and on the offensive and Lynette definitely falls somewhere on this spectrum. She’s always prepared, has her escape routes planned out and lives in fear that the nightmares of her past will become all too real again.
I liked the concept of this novel – a whole support group devoted to women who have survived the unthinkable and have group sessions where they have developed these complex relationships with each other. I think these fraught bonds between the women make for some interesting moments and I liked that despite how they’re at odds sometimes, they can truly count on each other and relate to each other in a way they can’t with anybody else. I will say though that there were times when Lynette felt like the emotional punching bag of the group and it got a bit repetitive after a while.
I think one of my favourite moments in the novel was the final showdown – it was exactly the epic showstopper a novel like this one needed and I could see it translating it really well to the screen as well. The whole book in fact would make for a great film or mini-series actually, and I think with the benefit of good casting and direction it would do really well.
While this book certainly had the elements to make this a five star read, a huge part was missing for me in that I couldn’t connect with the characters and really empathise or get into their heads. I feel like you really have to root for them in a book like this but I don’t know if the writer always writes their characters like this or if it’s a case of Lynette’s general narrative voice not clicking with me, but there was something necessary missing here.
Overall, it’s a mixed bag here but I enjoyed The Final Girl Support Group for the most part and I would definitely recommend to fans of horror films and slashers in particular.