the Little Red Reviewer

Final Girls, by Mira Grant

Posted on: April 24, 2017

Final Girls, by Mira Grant

Available April 30th, 2017

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (thanks Subterranean!)

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Mira Grant (also known as Seanan McGuire), is famous for her novels and series – the Newsflesh series, the October Daye series, and plenty of stand alones. Having read a small sample of her work, my opinion is that Grant’s talent shines brightest in her short fiction.  Her new stand alone novella, Final Girls, can be enjoyed over the course of an afternoon. And trust me, you’ll only need the one afternoon to read this novella, because you won’t be able to put it down.

 

I wrote an entire page of notes just in the first 30 pages of this 112 page novella, and by the time I finished the story, all my notes were irrelevant because the story had twisted and turned in about hundred unexpected directions.

 

Esther Hoffman, a journalist who specializes in debunking quackery, has been assigned to do an investigative report on Dr. Jennifer Webb’s new methods of therapy.  Dr. Webb uses dream therapy – her patients read about a horrific scenario in which they face their deepest fears, and then they are put into a hypnotic dream state where they dream the scenario and play it out to it’s conclusion. The person is physically perfectly safe, and a technician watches their vital signs to pull them out if anything dangerous happens.  Ideally, the patient learns that they can, and will survive whatever hardships they’ve been facing, and that they can now move on and live a mentally healthier life.

 

At first blush, Final Girls feels like a cross between the movies Paprika and Inception. Except Esther brings plenty of baggage to Dr. Webb’s office, and Dr. Webb is only interested in seeing her name on research papers or a nobel prize.   Dr. Webb convinces Esther that the only way she can honestly judge the quality of this new research is to do a session of therapy, and see how or even if it changes her thoughts. As Esther signs the release forms, you can practically see Webb’s ulterior motives in the corner of her toothy grin.

The more susceptible you are to hypnosis, the better this type of therapy will work for you. Esther isn’t overly susceptible to hypnosis, and while she’s in the dream, she knows something is up, but she can’t figure out what. It was really neat to have her internal monologue question things that were going on, such as time moving too quickly, or people doing odd things. As part of the scenario, Dr. Webb enters Esther’s dream, and then the really weird Inception stuff starts happening.   I won’t go into the details because that would wreck the best parts of the story, but the infiltrator was my favorite character, and I was happy Grant made time to develop her character as much as she could in such a short amount of space.

 

Much of development of Esther and Dr. Webb’s characters mirror a very quick scene at the beginning of the story, where two sisters go from having an antagonistic relationship to having a caring relationship, and I can only assume that mirroring was intentional foreshadowing.

From the title, and my knowledge that Grant likes zombie stories and horror films, I assumed there would be a connection to the “final girl” horror movie trope.  And there are plenty of purposeful horror movie trope in this novella – people thinking they are safe when they most certainly are not, beating down monsters with anything that can be used as a weapon, characters sacrificing themselves so another character can live, and survival through smarts instead of luck.  I’m sure there is a lot more to this than I’m seeing, but I’m not at all a horror movie buff.

 

Final Girls is fast paced and kept my attention throughout. I liked that the story went in all sorts of unexpected directions (okay, it’s Mira Grant. I should have expected the zombies!).  If you’re a Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire fan, this novella was written for you, and if you are new to her work, this stand alone novella is a great place to start to get a feel for her writing style.

 

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2 Responses to "Final Girls, by Mira Grant"

I’d be one of the “new to her work”. It sounds very cool indeed. So, Sub Press. Is there an ebook version?

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doesn’t look like there is an e-book version yet. They might be trying to sell out a press run in print first? I dunno.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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