The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Crazy as a horror flick

Finalgirl

To be honest, The Final Girl Support Group was exactly what I expected it to be.  The title gives you a good idea what the story is about – a support group for survivors of hideous horror soaked massacres.  Of course, all the survivors here and the traumas they have been through will be well known to horror aficionados who will undoubtedly recognise the characters and the movies they relate to – because of course, the premise here, which is such a great idea – is that those movies were based on true events, and the survivors, the final girls standing at the end of those movies make up the support group from the title. 

As you might expect, all the final girls have reacted in different ways but over the years they’ve become, sort of, friends through the support group they attend together.  As the book begins, it appears that change is on the horizon. These girls, women now in fact, will always be an enigma or constant source of fascination to a certain element of society and it feels inevitable that eventually somebody will come looking for them – hoping to make their own gory statement.

The central character is Lynnette Tarkington.  Strictly speaking Lynnette isn’t a ‘final girl’ although she was the only survivor of her own personal horror story – she’s different because she didn’t kill the monster at the end of her trauma like the other girls.  Lynnette’s form of coping involves training, surveillance and living a life in hiding.  She practically lives in her own self made cage and has contingency plans for the contingency plans! just in case.  Of course, all her planning and working out crumble when it appears that somebody knows all her secrets and how to bypass all her homemade security devices.

Firstly, I will say that you need to check your overpowering desire to have everything tied up with a neat realistic bow as soon as you crack this book open. This is not a book that is realistic – no more than say Halloween or Friday the 13th were realistic.  What this is, is a great play on horror movies, a homage filled with moments that will feel strangely familiar, even if you don’t recognise all the different  ideas.  What immediately popped into my head was a particular scene from the adaptation of Interview with a Vampire, where the young girl and Louis (both vampires) are watching a stage play, where basically the actors are all vampires (pretending to be humans) and the ever tortured Louis says ‘Vampires, pretending to be humans pretending to be vampires’.  This quote is perfect here because of the strange way that Hendrix has twisted everything – so, we have a fictional horror/thriller story pretending to be a real story based on real characters who survived a body of fictional movies.  I’m not sure that I’ve described that in the clearest terms – hopefully you can see what I’m driving at.  Anyway, the main point here is that this book is crazy.  It ticks all the crazy boxes and is delightfully, unashamedly a chaotic tribute to horror.  

Oddly enough, I wouldn’t really say the horror is over the top here.  Of course there are the backstories of the girls, but they’re not particularly dwelt upon so much as briefly skimmed over.  The real story revolves around the mystery/thriller aspect – although there are some particular moments that are definitely a bit horror soaked, particularly as the drama unfolds and the tension is ramped up.  Then there’s an absolutely over the top ending that twists itself up into a delicious pretzel.

There’s also just a gloriously exaggerated feeling of helplessness.  Like as soon as the proverbial hits the fan everyone’s best intentions go to hell in a handcart and momentarily these ‘final girl’s act like countless other victims that we’ve all spent time and energy over the years shouting instructions at from the comfort of our sofas ‘don’t go in the cellar!’ ‘run!’ ‘he’s behind you’ – etc, etc.  The beauty here though is that these girls, after a momentary flap, do pull themselves together, they’re survivors after all – but they need to stick together, and something or someone is intent on pushing them apart.

In terms of characters.  Well, Lynnette is our main character and she is flawed.  Come on though, she’s had a very bad experience.  Very. Bad. She makes mistakes, quite a lot of mistakes if I’m honest.  You can’t help but be flabbergasted by some of her actions, but at the same time she’s a great character to lead the story, probably because she’s not perfect, not always likeable and doesn’t always make the greatest choices.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I guess this isn’t the strongest plot but it definitely has a tongue in cheek stab at horror flicks and it’s more designed to entertain and get your pulse racing than be an intellectual experience. 

Like the movies this takes inspiration from this is a popcorn munching, quick paced horror/thriller that had me glued to the page.  And, also like the movies – you can’t take a break in the middle of the action – and the same can be said here – I pretty much read this in one sitting. 

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

This month I’m trying to read a few horror books as part of Books Bones and Buffy’s Horror in July event.  Check it out here.

HorrorinJuly