Title: Final Girls
Aunthor: Mira Grant
Genre: Sci-fi; Novella
Length: 112 pages
Published by: Subterranean Press
Pub Date: April 30, 2017
Source: A digital copy was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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The short version:
If you’re looking for a quick sci-fi read, I would keep an eye out for this book. It isn’t going to be my next favorite, but it was definitely a fun read!
The long version:
I won’t lie, I kind of judged this book by its cover. I’m usually more of a fantasy girl, but with a cover like that, this sci-fi drew me right in.
Esther Hoffman is a reporter who lost her father because phony regression therapy brought false charges against him and ruined his life. Because of this, she has made it her life’s work to find and debunk anything she deems “pseudo-science.” So, when she hears that Dr. Jennifer Webb has created a company that uses Virtual Reality to heal relationships, resolve emotional trauma, and even cure phobias by essentially placing patients in horror stories, Esther is skeptical to say the least. But at Dr. Webb’s request, she agrees to try this virtual reality therapy in the hopes that it will end up being just another scientific fraud she can disprove. Soon, the things in her reality, both virtual and real, take a turn for the worse, and she may be forced to depend on the very person whose work she came to discredit.
Despite the fact that this is such a short book, the pacing is almost perfect. Aside from the ending, which I feel went by a little too quickly, nothing in the story drags on or feels too rushed, whether we’re in the “real world” learning about the VR process or in the very heart of the simulation watching Esther’s “therapy” unfold.
The difference between the real world and the virtual world is one of my favorite aspects of the novella. The VR scenarios are told in a present tense, and the real world is told in the past tense, which makes the virtual world seem that much more vivid and intense and, at times, almost more real than the real world.
On top of that, while the characters are in the virtual reality, the language is quite poetic. The VR sections are full of lines like, “Massachusetts has trees, but they’re wrong, more like bushes with delusions of grandeur than the comfortable, towering eucalyptus trees of her homeland. These are trees that show their bones. She doesn’t trust them. She would be a fool to trust them.” Lines like these work to simultaneously remind the reader that the scenario isn’t real, while the near-musicality of the language also lulls them into a false sense of security even within that lie. Outside the VR, the language is very clinical, focusing more on science and explanations, which can be a little jarring, but that shock reflects what the characters themselves face, and enhances certain aspects of the story.
Unfortunately, not every aspect of the story worked as well for me; I found myself wanting more. The novella is very plot-driven, and it was the intensity of the plot that kept me reading until the end. But I had a hard time really feeling for the characters because I just didn’t have enough time or information to grow attached to them. Even the villain(s) didn’t seem so intimidating because they felt like faceless actions instead of people with schemes and agendas. As I mentioned, I also wanted a little bit more from the end; I felt that I didn’t really get to see the full impact of the experience on the characters and finished with a half-completed resolution. As someone who is such a huge sucker for great characters, this was the main reason I couldn’t give this novella the full 4 stars.
One other disclaimer I feel I should make: there are elements of horror in this novella. The scenes didn’t go super in-depth and didn’t bother me much, but I know there are people who are vehemently against any kind of blood or gore. If you are one of these people, this book is probably not for you.
That being said, this book was still a fun read, so much so that I stayed up waaaay past my bedtime (till 3:30 am, in fact) to finish it. Long story short, if you like sci-fi, I would recommend reading Final Girls.
Overall, I gave Final Girls 3 Stars:
Thanks for reading! If you plan on reading or have already read this book, let me know why and what you think in the comments below!