Final Girls by Riley Sager

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My entire synopsis in three words? Another great thriller.

And for any of you who know me and my reviews well, you know I love a great thriller. Even better, a great thriller including characters with whom I empathize; and a step up from that, a twisty ending. Final Girls included all of the above. Now, I’m not going to call this my perfect book, hence the four and a half stars instead of five, but it’s a short step away from being everything I wanted. Riley Sager just did so much right.

The main character, Quinn, is truly a well written individual. I understood her. I felt for her. And above all, I wanted to read her story. And without that itty bitty final element, a book tends to lose me really quickly. Sager was able to write Quinn as a potentially unreliable narrator while not irritating me with the fact that she might not be totally trustworthy at all times, and that is truly a talent.

As far as the side characters went, they were all over the place: big hit or big miss or completely blah. For me, the hit was the officer, Coop. I thought he was just offputting-yet-trustworthy enough to be of interest. I understood why Quinn felt the way she did about him; it would be hard to help after the situation she’d been in.

The miss was the friend whose name I won’t mention for spoiler purposes, though I ended up gaining a bit more appreciation for the character as the story went on. Finally, the blah was the boyfriend, Jeff. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great. Just there, which somehow worked for me.

Now, there is something about this story that I deeply appreciate but I don’t see often enough in the books I read. I think it’s only right to acknowledge it fully here. Two of the important side characters have very different but very controversial jobs: a police officer and a defense attorney. I love how the topics of their jobs are handled. There are moments where their controversial jobs are brought into question, and here’s what is so genius about the writing:

Sager is so completely true to the story and the character, I saw no flicker of the author’s out-of-the-blue opinions in those moments, just the characters’. In the brief times one was made out to be the bad guy, it was entirely due to believable reasons from the character’s standpoint and the story’s plot. For that, I commend you, Mr. Sager.

There is something so special about reading a story and never thinking “oh, there’s the author’s opinion awkwardly shoved in where it feels strange and wrong!” You know what I mean?

All in all, I can say I will likely pick up another of his books in the future. I am impressed by all aspects of this book and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a thriller to keep them guessing.

You Are Not Alone by Hendricks & Pekkanen

I listened to the You Are Not Alone audiobook, and wow, am I impressed. A couple months back, I happened to pick up a copy of The Wife Between Us, penned by the same two women, and absolutely adored it. Truthfully, this one is even better.

I am generally a big fan of the gigantic sector of thrillers surrounding thirty-something-year-old women getting caught up in creepy situations they have to dig their way out of. I used to read them a lot, but I took a break and now I’m back. Though it’s a huge segment of the genre, I tend to shy away from the books that follow the story of an eternally drunk MC. Barf. That might be one of the reasons why I like this story so much. Shay, our rather delightful MC, goes through this entirely crazy storyline without being bombed at all times.

Which leads me into something else I adored about our MC. She actually made me like her, right off the bat. I genuinely cared for Shay and her well being, and as you may know if you have read my reviews in the past, developing feelings for at least some of the characters in the story is vital to my enjoyment of a book. But nothing compares to having a well-written main character. That is almost an instant good rating from me, and this story is no exception.

I sympathized with Shay on so many levels: her quest to fill her life with trustworthy people; her happiness after meeting her new friends, the Moore sisters; her digging just a tiny bit too deep into a person’s story that interests her. But let’s be honest… We’ve all engaged in a bit of social media stalking at one point or another. Hopefully not to the level the You Are Not Alone characters did. Not scary level. Just a bit.

Then, there is the lack of romance in the plot, a massive win for me. Couples are cute and all, but every once in a while what I can really use is a convoluted stalker-murder mystery. Which brings me to my next point: everybody’s least favorite book boyfriend. Joe Goldberg.

Deep down, You Are Not Alone certainly has a bit of You vibe, what with all the over-the-top following, stalking, and intermittent deaths. If you want to see those aspects of You played out with a female-filled cast, then definitely go for this book. But please be advised, you’re not going to get any romantic side of the story like with You.

It’s every bit as creepy though, just in a different way. I had chills until the very end and then some. The resolution is truly something to behold. I never would have guessed it, yet it’s not an absolutely crazy leap in logic. It makes perfect sense, and it blew my mind. Happy Tuesday and happy reading!