Grady Hendrix – The Final Girl Support Group

Grady Hendrix – The Final Girl Support Group

For years, Lynnette Tarkington has done everything to keep a low profile, not to be found and to be absolutely secure in her apartment which is equipped according to her needs: security cameras outside, several locks, a cage to hinder any intruder from getting close to her. She has a reason to be careful, she is a final girl, the only person surviving a massacre. She is not alone, there are more girls who share this fate and for more than a decade, they have been meeting regularly in a self-help group led by Dr Carol. But now, somebody seems to try to finish what hadn’t been completed before: killing the final girls. After the first of them has died and Lynnette is attacked in her apartment, she is sure: all the others are in danger and she needs to warn them. Yet, one question remains: who is the killer?

Grady Hendrix’ novel is a roller coaster ride though a kind of teenage horror and splatter movie, just like the ones that were highly popular during the 1990s. Lynnette, the first person narrator, does not seem to be totally reliable, quite obviously, the events she had to go through did leave some scars, not only on the outside, but much more importantly on her psyche. She is a bit strange, to put it nicely, or crazy when judging her behaviour from the outside. Yet, she could be right, somebody might try to kill them, but maybe this also only happens in her head. As a reader, it takes some time to decide which perspective to take.

I absolutely enjoyed the novel, it is just like the movies, fast paced, a bit over the top, some quite scary moments which make it highly entertaining. However, it is not only a shallow novel, there some depths when it comes to what such an experience does to a victim and also how people react to a single survivor who becomes a popular figure due to such an horrendous cruelty.

There are some cruel horror scenes with a lot of violence, so the novel surely isn’t for everybody, me, personally, I had great fun reading it.

Thora Hjorleifsdottir – Magma

Thora Hjorleifsdottir – Magma

After some time in Denmark and a long trip to South America, Lilja returns to her home town Reykjavik where she falls for a well-read student. She only works in a café and thus always feels a bit inferior to the intelligent young man. Nevertheless, she quickly moves in with him, knowing that she is not really his girlfriend but rather the person he shares the bed with. She calls him very private as he does not invite her to his family or friends and accepts his conditions in return for his love. Yet, this toxic relationship leaves its scars on her – figuratively on her soul, feeling not good enough for him and therefore accepting other women besides her, and very visibly on her skin when she discovers that cutting can release some stress.

Told by a first person narrator, the reader is quite close to Lilja and her thoughts. At first, she seems to be quite some tough and modern young woman who lives her life according to her own ideals and standards. Gradually, however, the downwards spiral is set in motion turning her into a vulnerable and dependent woman who is caught in the negative view of herself. Thora Hjorleifsdottir’s novel “Magma” tackles a complex and difficult issue but makes it easy to understand how some women end up in unhealthy relationships and do not find – or even want – a way out.

Lilja, on the one hand, can clearly name how she is being treated. How recklessly he chats with other women online while she is in the same room or even meets them the same day they have a date. She falls for him and accepts being treated like some second rate being, listens to him praising his ex-girlfriends in front of her and even gives in when he asks for things which clearly transgress her boundaries.

She believes she deserves being treated like this, she is not pretty enough, not good enough, not clever enough, too sensitive, behaving horribly – simply crazy, a failure. If only she could be the girl he expects her to be, then he could also love her. The narrator does not sound foolish or naive at all, even though it is obvious that this thinking isn’t healthy, we all know these kinds of toxic thoughts which are hard to get rid of even if you are standing with both feet on the ground and having a healthy self-image.

At the end of the day, it is simply how women end up being abused and ill-treated by men they believe – despite everything they go through – love them. It starts with small signs until the chain of events once set in motion cannot be stopped anymore and ultimately heads towards a complete disaster.

Wonderfully written in a reduced, direct style which makes it easy to follow the line of thoughts and go down with the narrator. More than once, you want to shout at her or take her in your arms, so heart-wrenching it is to see what’s happening without any possibility of interfering.