cover image Final Girls

Final Girls

Riley Sager. Dutton, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-101-98536-6

Quincy “Quinn” Carpenter, the heroine of Sager’s uneven thriller debut, and five college friends spend a weekend in the Pennsylvania woods at the remote Pine Cottage, where a knife-wielding maniac kills everyone but her. She is only spared because Officer Cooper (“Coop”) shoots the culprit. Quinn, who remembers no details, isn’t the only lone survivor of such a massacre around the same time: Lisa Milner survives a sorority house attack, and Samantha Boyd fights off a motel killer. Lisa is the only one of the three who embraces the media’s “final girl” label—a trope familiar to horror movie buffs, referring to the girl who survives the bloodbath—and even writes a book about her experience. Quinn wants nothing to do with her fellow “girls,” and 10 years later has settled down in Manhattan with a boyfriend, a baking blog, and lots of Xanax. Then Coop shows up and tells Quinn that Lisa is dead, and the nightmare starts anew. Sager does a good job building suspense, but some readers may find the book’s themes of casual male power and female subservience after trauma deeply unsettling. Agent: Michelle Brower, Folio Literary Management. (July)