The Final Girl Support Group
I’m giving Grady Hendrix one last chance. And then that’s IT. Spoiler alert: he failed.
Lynnette belongs to a special kind of group therapy: the final girls. Lynnette is one of six final girls who have been meeting for years since their different traumas, but the group isn’t giving them anything they need anymore. Lynnette, it seems, is alone in her want to keep meeting monthly. That is, until the final girls become the target of a murderer, and it’s up to Lynnette to save them all.
In the three Grady Hendrix books I’ve read, he‘s managed to write one book with good female characters…and that’s not this book. There was hardly anything in this book I liked, so lets get on with this.
The bury your gays trope is so fucking tiring. We’re introduced to Dani, a lesbian final girl who had to kill her brother in order to survive (a la the old Halloween movies - Dani was a babysitter…I think), and she’s immediately hit with some lesbian-specific homophobia. Not only that, but she just wants to live on her farm with her wife, who has cancer, and I can’t blame her for that, because the other final girls fucking suck. Too bad her wife’s cancer is so far advanced that there’s literally no hope. Already their relationship is a tragedy, after all that Dani’s already been through. Not only that, but later we’re treated to an extended scene where Michelle - Dani’s WIFE, who is frequently called her girlfriend/special friend - is broken out of hospice, shit’s herself, and then dies. I’m sorry, what the FUCK. After so much the LGBT have been though, and especially with what they’re going through right now (Texas, Florida, etc), this is so fucked up. It made me so angry to read that. This book came out in 2021 for fucks sake. Can we be done with this trope, please? Bury your gays is not only frustrating, but overplayed, tired, and cheap. Color me disgusted.
Beyond the tropey nature of the story, the characters are fucking horrible. Lynnette is an unreliable narrator, a coward, a straight up bitch, and absolutely does not deserve the ending she got. She fucked up so bad and - what? They all forgive her? Absolutely not. She abandoned Julia, kidnapped Steph and then brought her to the place for the final rampage, and didn’t really do anything of note besides drag Dani’s broken body into a cabin, run a killer through a barn, and tackle Stephanie. Big whoop. There’s no reason the other final girls should forgive her for what she’s done, because she hasn’t actually done anything to atone for it besides surviving several lunatics. I hate her.
In fact, I hate them all. Heather (Freddy Krueger‘s final girl) is a stereotype, and a homophobic ableist piece of shit. Marilyn (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is shallow and snooty and annoying. Julia (Scream) is also a stereotype, and horrible representation. Adrienne (Friday the 13th) is nothing but a ghost of a ghost, a shell that shows up at the very end to convince Lynnette to save the day. Dani (Halloween) is depressed and…well, that’s it, really. Dr. Carol is hardly there, Skye and Pax are cardboard cutouts, Stephanie is annoying, Chrissy is a plot device, Garrett makes my skin crawl. I hate them all. It’s hard to make me not like at least ONE character, and somehow Hendrix exceeds that with flying colors.
The plotline was tired. Why is it, in all these final girl books, that there has to be one last person gunning for them? As much as I ended up disliking Riley Sager’s Final Girls, the plot of that book was much better than TFGSG. If you took away the final girl aspect from everyone but Lynnette, you’d basically have the plot of Scream 4, but Sidney is a MUCH better character than Lynnette ever could be. And Scream is so much more enjoyable than TFGSG.
The way Hendrix sticks his writing into situations like this is so frustrating. You can read my review of
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires here, but his characters in that story were so catty and toxic, and TFGSG is no different. He says he wants to “empower women” or whatever and writes this shit? Disgusting. I’m tired of men writing women like this. I’m tired of men writing, full stop. I’m so glad Hendrix feels the need to write a book about women and their trauma, but coming from a man it’s tone deaf and annoying. His…weird trend of putting his female characters in sickening situations disgusts me. In TSBCGSV it was (TW) rape and sudden pedophilia. In TFGSG, it was grooming and - you guessed it! - sudden pedophilia. It’s completely unnecessary, and I need him to stop.
This is supposed to be a thriller/horror? It is not. It’s a ”comedy“ in a thriller’s trenchcoat, and it‘s so fucking irksome. You want to be profound and talk about “oh, women get hunted because men suck! Women have it so much worse! Look how they fear men!” or what-the-fuck-ever, but then you have Lynnette hallucinating her fucking plant yelling after her while she leaves an ACTUAL DISABLED HUMAN BEING behind to die. That doesn’t lighten the mood; it’s stupid and I hate it.
I will say, I didn’t see Skye and Stephanie teaming up. I didn’t see the twist, because I got bored in the first few chapters and skipped to the end. I still finished it, but there was nothing surprising besides how stupid and poorly equipped to handle anything Lynnette is. I feel like I wasted my time with this book. The only reason it gets two stars instead of one is because a) I did finish it rather quickly, so it has good readability, and b) I’ve read much worse books. Two stars feels right.
Trigger warnings: murder, violence, death, panic attacks/disorders, addiction, cancer, lesbophobia, ableism, gun violence, adult/minor relationships, alcoholism, blood, cursing, death of parent, body horror, gore, grief, injury, injury detail, kidnapping, mental illness, police brutality, self harm, suicidal thoughts, torture, toxic friendship, vomit, pedophilia