Review: The Final Girl Support Group

The Final Girl Support Group The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hendrix's novel is an intriguing romp through slasher films of the 1980s-1990s seen through the eyes of the final girls (the "girls" that survived the slashers). It's decades later and they run a closed support group, processing everything that has happened to them (the incidents themselves and also, the media circus that continues to haunt them).  But now, a slasher has arrived on the scene and is attempting to pick off the women one by one. Lynnette, an outsider, even among the "final" women is the only one who can see it coming but none of the others seem willing to believe her--and it doesn't help that she was largely discredited when her computer was hacked, the others find out that she's possibly betrayed them.  It's a fun narrative that keeps you guessing about who is the slasher, who is the prey, and how it is all going to end.  The book is thrilling as a story but also serves up interesting commentary.  It can be seen as a reflection of popular culture which continues to cannibalize itself by drawing upon movies and TV shows of the 1970s-1990s for remakes/revisions/extended universes; the book itself is a reflection of this and also the story within. Of course, for horror fans, this book is pure mana as the numerous easter eggs and appreciating who each final girl in the book reflects each final girl from some of the most classic slasher films of the 70s-90s (including Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and others). One can also find commentary that suggests how we glamorize young women in caustic ways through celebrity worship and digital reproduction causes so much downstream harm in women's lives. There's also a fascinating discussion at the book's heart about women and trauma, how they navigate it in a world that often rejects, ignores, or sensationalizes their trauma until they are no longer relevant and disposable. More interesting, the commentary around trauma is about how it is something that always sits with people in certain ways and can, for some, create a state of hyper-vigilance that is both confining and actually, an appropriate response.  For me, this is where the book's ideas are most fascinating.  However, outside of that, the story is still one that is fun for those who like a good horror novel.

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