The Final Girl Support Group
January 17, 2022 1:13 PM - Subscribe

Marilyn survived a massacre in Texas. Adrienne barely overcame a maniac who targeted a summer camp. Dani had to defeat her own homicidal brother when he turned into a killer at Halloween. Heather escaped a killer called The Dream King. Julia outwitted her boyfriend and his best friend when they turned their love of slasher films into a real life killing spree. Lynette was the only survivor of an escaped lunatic dressed as Santa. They meet in secret with their therapist for a very specialized support group... Until all at once, it seems someone wants these "final girls" turned middle-aged survivors dead.
posted by DirtyOldTown (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This was so good. I've enjoyed Grady Hendrix's books in general, but he's really leveling up here.

This is going to be a tv series soon, supposedly. It's gonna be amazing if they do it right.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:16 PM on January 17, 2022

I haven't read this one yet but I did read two other "final girls" novels, both by Stephen Graham Jones: The Last Final Girl and then My Heart is a Chainsaw. They are both kind of the same book, like a draft and then a polished version. But lots of gory fun to be had throughout. This article from Tor discusses those books as well as the Hendrix in a broader look at the inversion / conversion / subversion of the "final girl" trope. It's all pretty entertaining! [see also: Let's All Be Final Girls]
posted by chavenet at 1:43 PM on January 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

I read this one and My Heart is a Chainsaw not quite back to back, but it's fascinating to read from the point of view of a final girl and then the point of view of a genre fan.

The first chapters with Lynette's routine in Final Girls have stuck with me longer than most anything else in the book -- except the phrase, "one is none, and two is one." Hendrix does a really good job at exploring how debilitating actually being a final girl would be. And I loved that Hendrix includes sequels for his final girls. They go through it over and over.
posted by gladly at 5:35 PM on January 17, 2022

except the phrase, "one is none, and two is one."

That’s an old adage super popular with the prepper crowd and completely makes sense for Lynette to have adopted for herself, but definitely not coined by Hendrix.

I actually didn’t love this one nearly as much as I enjoyed My Heart is a Chainsaw, or even the somewhat similar Final Girls by Riley Sager that came out a few years earlier. Part of it may have been the narrators (I listened to all three as audiobooks), but I found Hendrix’s somehow unsatisfying and frustrating.
posted by Pryde at 6:39 PM on January 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

I’ve read the one by Riley Sager and liked it well enough, just didn’t realize it’s a genre which is kind of unsettling.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:28 PM on January 17, 2022

The only other Hendrix book I've read is My Best Friend's Exorcism, which has some things in common with this one stylistically; the main similarity is a mix of comedy and horror that mostly serves to make the horror more relatable and scarier, which is a nice trick if you can pull it off. I do think both books try for an epiphany at the climax that doesn't quite land -- there's a sense that he's stepping out in front of the book to say, "And here's The Point, if you missed it!" -- but at least he has a point.

With this one, what I appreciated most is that while the Final Girls are clearly the heroines of IRL slasher movies (some famous, some a little bit obscure) with the serial numbers filed off, he doesn't stop there: the analogues take on unique lives of their own, and in some cases their stories morph into variations on the source material that sound interesting in their own right. (I'm especially intrigued by the Elm Street pastiche that seems to recast Freddy Krueger as some unholy mix of Dream from The Sandman and Twilight's Edward Cullen.) More, the world of the novel is a subtle AU made different by the primacy of the heroines in their narratives -- they are the main characters of the movies made from their stories, not the bad guys, and Hendrix shows hints of how that has made the Final Girls' real world different from our own.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:40 AM on January 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

[spoilers ahead]

I read this late last year. Not being big into horror I hadn't heard much about it, and from the title and set up assumed it would be perhaps 80% humor and trope inversion.

I wasn't prepared for the extent to which this was basically straight thriller/horror. It was good; I was on the edge of my seat and it got across the pain and trauma of the victims in a big way. But while it was genre aware and had some sly humor (like the hinting around the "Dream King") it was more intense than "fun".

Lots of great writing though and some nice surprises that made complete sense when they happened--like the cabin in the woods she stayed in previously being more like a bunker, or even just the identity of the actual villain, and why he had access to so much information.

About the ending: In some way the arc, by narrative tradition, clearly had to have Lynette rising beyond the crippling paranoia and fear in the early chapters. I was wondering how that would work throughout the book, as battling a third and fourth serial killer didn't seem great therapy of severe PTSD. A little bemused that it was handwaved as just something that went away after her head injury, the horror version of "one hit on the head gives you amnesia, a second one cures it."
posted by mark k at 3:23 PM on January 18, 2022

If you have any interest in Final Girl iconography, meta-takes on slashers and horror, etc. and you haven't seen Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, you should take care of that ASAP because that film deserves a serious place in this discussion.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:25 PM on January 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Kind of a fun trash novel. I laughed aloud several times, like when the southern detective guy is trying out taglines while talking to Lynnette. "The doctor is in... sane."

I swear Lynette hits a part of her body hard whenever she does any action move at all; the final fight is a kind of vague slapstick.

The visit to Chrissy was a good slice of actual horror.
posted by fleacircus at 10:26 PM on March 2, 2023

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