Review: Final Girls

Final GirlsFinal Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Genre/Themes: Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Release Date: July 11th, 2017
Format: Ebook

 

 

Synopsis

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Review

The final girl trope in horror movies is one of my favourite tropes. I like the idea of one strong, kickass woman taking down the killer and surviving. In fact, this trope was turned into a movie called The Final GirlsThe thing is, you never see what happens to the final girl after the murderer is dead and she begins her new life.

Enter Riley Sager. Riley Sager is a pseudonym for a (famous?) published author, which I found interesting. This book is an imagining of what happens when the final girls, the lone survivors of serial killers and mass murderers, are forced to come to terms with what happened to them. Obviously, there is a lot of psychological trauma that comes after such experiences and this book is about how different women react to horrific events.

I absolutely loved this novel. Everything about it works so well. The characterization in this novel was absolutely fantastic. The main character, Quincy, is trying so hard to be normal and live her life, but she has this hidden trauma that comes to the surface once one of the Final Girls is killed. She’s forced to examine the life she’s built and see just how much she’s lying to herself and everyone around her. I also really liked the character of Sam because she was so different from Quincy. You got to really delve into the lives of the Final Girls and see what kind of people they had become. You saw how differently tragedy can shape a person.

The plot was so fast-paced and exciting. There are so many twists in this book and it feels like a race to the conclusion. Quincy has blocked out the events of Pine Cottage, and the reader realizes things just as Quincy does. There are snippets of the past juxtaposed with the present, which I thought worked really well. I thought I knew where this book was going and I thought I knew exactly what had happened, but I wasn’t even close to guessing the truth. It was a really dark and complex story, but still quite exciting. I think this book could be turned into a really interesting movie if done correctly.

I was focused on the writing of this novel too because I was trying to guess who the author was. While the writing is good, there’s nothing very distinctive about it. It’s perfectly written for a thriller, but this isn’t a literary novel at all.

I think this book is going to be really huge this summer. It has all the markings of a big summer thriller that everyone has rave reviews for. I’m so eager to read anything else this author decides to write. I highly recommend this novel to people who like slasher movies, psychological thrillers, or fast paced thrillers in general.

I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: Here and Gone

Here and GoneHere and Gone
Author: Haylen Beck
Publisher: Crown
Genre/Themes: Thriller
Release Date: June 20th, 2017
Format: Ebook

 

 

Synopsis

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

Review

Here and Gone has the kind of plot that immediately grabs me. I love thrillers because I like how fast-paced and adventurous they are. I never go into a thriller expecting amazing writing, but I do expect a good plot and decent characterization. Fortunately, I did get that from this book.

The plot was extremely fast-paced and kept me turning the pages, and the story was interesting and unique enough to keep me reading. A lot of the times, the book felt very cinematic, and I could see this book as a movie without any problems. The plot is very suspenseful and as the story unfolds, it gets a lot darker.

I also thought the characters were all really impressive. The story switches between the perspectives of quite a few characters, and they were all well-written. Their voices felt different and I was impressed with how dynamic they all were. My only qualm was that Audra’s backstory was really cliched. I think women with her backstory have been seen in thriller novels over and over again. My favourite character was Danny, and I wish there had been more chapters from his perspective.

I enjoyed the book’s writing style, but there was nothing literary or very impressive with the writing since this was a plot focused novel. However, this was a very enjoyable read and I recommend it to fans of thrillers.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: Dark Matter

Dark MatterDark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Publisher: Crown
Genre/Themes: Science Fiction, Thriller
Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Format: Ebook

 

 

Synopsis

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Review

This is one of the most intriguing premises I’ve ever read. I was immediately drawn to the mysteriousness of this book, and I was really in the mood for a science fiction thriller when I picked it up. It was extremely enjoyable and I raced through it.

Dark Matter is the kind of book that keeps you reading because it has something new to think about on every page. It deals with these big picture questions about fate, family, love, and it makes you question every decision you’ve ever made. It’s already so compelling and such a page turner that you walk into Jason’s world and can’t leave until you know exactly what’s going on.

These characters were so vividly written that I understood them so well. By the end, I thought I’d known them forever. Everything about this novel is plotted and comes together in such a rewarding manner. My only gripe with this novel is that since it’s so action packed and plot heavy, the writing isn’t anything special. Yes, there are some complex questions and I really enjoyed the science bits, but overall, the writing read like a movie and there were some very unfortunate dialogue problems.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can’t wait to pick up Blake Crouch’s Pines trilogy.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: Everything You Want Me To Be

Everything You Want Me to Be
Everything You Want Me To Be
Author: Mindy Mejia
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre/Themes: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Format: Ebook
Everything You Want Me to Be

Synopsis

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.

Review

This book has one of those intriguing premises that hooks me immediately. When I see that a book is a multi-perspective novel about a murder that takes place in a small town, I’m always going to want to read it.

Since this is a mystery, there’s very little I can say without giving the story away, but I will say that I absolutely loved this book. I raced through it because I was so desperate to find out what happened to Hattie. This book alternates between Hattie and two men that are very important in her life, Del, the sheriff who is tasked with solving her murder, and Peter, her English and drama teacher. My favourite part of this novel was the incredible way each character was developed. All three of these characters were interesting to read from and I loved each of them, especially because they were flawed and they felt like real people.

Hattie was the perfect character for this book to be centered around. She was a master manipulator, a fantastic actress, and full of secrets. As a reader, you always want to be drawn in by the protagonist and even though it’s her murder that starts her novel, she was still a fully fleshed-out character and it hurt to know what was going to happen to her. She was intriguing and exciting and you wanted better for her life.

This book takes place over the course of a year, and jumps back and forth in time between the three characters. The past and present timelines come together seamlessly and while the plot of this novel is by no means unique, it’s still fast-paced and entertaining to read. It’s full of twists, but I did see a lot of them coming. However, I don’t think the main point of this novel was the murder-mystery aspect of it, but the fact that it was a really interesting character study.

The writing in this novel is also one of the best things about it. Mindy Mejia is gifted at coming up with beautiful metaphors and sentences that forced me to re-read and really think about what was being said. Using Jane Eyre and Macbeth as important literature in this novel was perfect (and the reader will fully understand why these two were chosen as they understand Hattie better).

Overall, this was a great start to my reading year in 2017. I expect this novel to do really well, and I can guarantee I’ll be reading all of Mindy Mejia’s future works.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: The Assassin Game – Kirsty McKay

The Assassin GameAt Cate’s isolated boarding school Killer is more than a game-it’s an elite secret society. Members must avoid being “killed” during a series of thrilling pranks-and only the Game Master knows who the “killer” is. When Cate’s finally invited to join The Guild of Assassins, she knows it’s her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs.

But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save The Guild. But can she find the real assassin-before she’s the next target?

Unfortunately, this is a book that I had to abandon. The start of the book was pretty interesting, and I was really excited by the premise of the book. I love boarding school novels and this was a thriller, which is my favourite genre to read these days.

My biggest problem with the novel and the reason why I had to stop reading was the really juvenile writing  and the cheesy scenes. I stopped reading as soon as the male romantic lead was introduced. It was just so angsty and dramatic, and strangely written.

Perhaps the plot would have been decent, but the idea of reading 300 pages of cringe-inducing writing and a main character who was already grating on my nerves wasn’t appealing in the least.

Since this is a young adult novel that reads very juvenile, this book wasn’t for me. While I didn’t enjoy it, I think a younger audience might like it.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn Review

Gone Girl On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

I know I’m late to the game here. Not only was Gone Girl the Goodreads Choice Winner in 2012, it was essentially the book of 2012. It’s been turned into a movie and even now, it’s leading the way in terms of audiobook and ebook sales. Basically, everybody knows about Gone Girl, even if they’re not book people.

I have to confess that Gone Girl is one of the rare cases where I watched the movie before the book. Long story short, my cousins were visiting and we needed something to do and this was the only semi-decent movie playing in theatres at that time. Because of this, I knew the “twist” before I read the book. I really wish I’d read the book before watching the movie and I’d recommend others do it in the correct order.

I was afraid that the hype would ruin this book for me, but it didn’t. I absolutely loved it. First off, the concept of this book is completely in my wheelhouse. I love thrillers and whodunnit mysteries, so I knew I wanted to read it right off the bat. What I wasn’t expecting was how well the book would be written. Gillian Flynn’s writing is spot on. The book was impeccably written with the right balance of sharp, sardonic wit and humour.

There isn’t too much I can say about the plot before giving away spoilers, but I will say that the idea of marriage is EVISCERATED in this novel. Gillian Flynn absolutely crucifies the characters of both men and women, and there’s a lot of sexism. It isn’t something I could even be angry about because she was just as harsh about the realities of men as she was with women. However, even though the characters are unlikeable, I was still completely transfixed by their story. The writing was so sharp and a little scathing. Amy and Nick’s voices were entirely different, which is hard to do when the book splits between perspectives, but Gillian Flynn handles it like a pro.

This book is definitely worth reading. It’s so close to perfect in my eyes. I highly recommend it.

Desperate – Daniel Palmer Review

Desperate Brimming with suspense and unrelenting twists, acclaimed author Daniel Palmer’s latest thriller delves into the waking nightmare of a well meaning couple whose biggest and most ordinary dream has gone terrifyingly awry Gage Dekker still blames himself for the car accident that claimed the lives of his first wife and young son. Then he meets Anna, who understands grief all too well. Within a year, Gage and Anna are married, his career is thriving, and both feel ready to become parents once more.

After a heartbreaking miscarriage, they begin the long adoption process, until fate brings Lily into their lives. Young, pregnant, and homeless, Lily agrees to give her baby to Gage and Anna in exchange for financial support. It’s the perfect arrangement for everyone. Seeing his wife’s happiness and optimism for their new life and child, Gage begins to feel a sense of hope he thought he’d lost forever.

But something isn’t right once Lily enters their lives. At work and at home, Gage is being sabotaged, first in subtle ways, then things take a more sinister turn. Every attempt he makes to uncover the truth only drives a wedge between him and Anna. Even as he’s propelled toward an unthinkable choice to save his marriage and his job, Gage discovers that the most chilling revelations are still to come.

I liked this book, but I wanted to like it more than I did. It’s such a unique idea for a plot, and I thought it was executed well. However, I found a lot of characters so unlikeable that it turned me off to the book at times.

In literature, my favourite characters are the ones that aren’t black and white. When you absolutely adore a character or absolutely despise them, it makes it an emotionally exhausting book. Personally, I don’t enjoy that. Lily was such a shady character that it made me actively dislike her. Anna also began to grate on my nerves with her single-mindedness to have a child and her inability to trust Gage. Since there were so many characters that drove me nuts, it was hard for me to fully enjoy this book.

The plot is really interesting though and once it picks up (about halfway through the novel), it’s quite exciting. The last half of the book kept me on the edge of my seat and the ending was great.

It was a solid thriller and I’d be interested in reading more from Daniel Palmer.