• Sat. May 14th, 2022

Review: The Girls’ Final Support Group by Grady Hendrix

ByJulie J. Helfer

Jul 22, 2021

In horror movies, the last girl is the one left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer and avenged his friends. The one who comes out bloodied but victorious. But once the sirens have died down and the audience is gone, what happens to him?

Lynnette Tarkington is the last real-life girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she is not alone. For over a decade, she met five other real-life final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, piecing their lives back together, piece by piece. That’s until one of the women misses a reunion and Lynnette’s worst fears come true – someone knows the band and is determined to rebuild their lives, piece by piece.

But the thing about these latest girls is that they’re together now, and no matter how bad the odds are, how dark the night is, how sharp the knife is, they don’t. will never, ever give up.

The Final Girl Support Group is a bare-handed merry-go-round, with plenty of gory chills in store, but also a complex and fascinating examination of the titular trope and its misogynistic undertones.

Hendrix wastes very little time getting right into it, setting the tone for the book from the get-go. Instantly, there’s this mix of familiar horror references and actual victims behind these horrific situations (at least in the book universe). References to horror movies are so fun to watch and really highlight the cultural touchstones, to ensure that the central conversation has a much bigger impact. This book is defined by its review and almost a conversation with the Final Girl trope. There is this tension between the girls having final control over their own narrative and exploiting their trauma through these adaptations. Their monsters become cult heroes and that adds a sense of unease, questioning society’s fascination with these horror villains. To some extent, it also aligns with how society can be obsessed with real-life monsters, the perpetrators of horrific acts of violence and destruction. All too often, the media focus on the perpetrators, rather than calling for justice and reminding the public of those affected by their actions.

The whole concept of this book is just fascinating. He asks what happens to the Final Girl of Trope Fame once her monster is captured or killed. After the end credits, what happens to those girls who survived hell on earth? Hendrix uses this concept so well. It was a relentlessly tense and empowering take on the Final Girl trope, using a multimedia format to engage in conversation with the trope and its misogynistic undertones. He questions the representations of violence against women on screen and the way in which they are often dehumanized and sexualized. The fact that these films are based on real-life experiences firmly shines a light on aspects of the male gaze, criticizing a societal obsession that violence against women is sexualized and glamourized. This makes for truly stimulating reading and opens the door to a much needed conversation in the horror genre.

Hendrix gives these women a lot more nuance and agency than their on-screen counterparts and recognizes the long-term effects their trauma would have on them. Their reactions differ, especially over the years. It also allowed them to control their own narrative in different ways, with different survival techniques used to carry on and on with their lives. The different characters are allowed so much complexity and each chapter reveals new layers to them. Their relationships and individual coping mechanisms are so strained and different, highlighting how each of them chooses to survive in this world. Hendrix’s clever use of media also means that you gradually learn the details of each of their stories, especially their Final Girl experiences. This allows them not only to be defined by what has happened to them, even though this is an important aspect of their character.

Of course, the thriller and slasher element of the book creeps in as well. It had been a long time since I read a slasher novel, but it was pretty fantastic. Instantly I knew I was going to take a wild ride and Hendrix never gave up. Monsters from their past seem to reappear and hunt them one by one. Hendrix creates a truly thrilling and thrilling atmosphere, full of tension and suspense. This book is completely relentless, with the pace advancing and the stakes getting higher and higher. The twists and turns in store are really shocking, and you often don’t know who you can trust or what’s the truth.

The Girls’ Ultimate Support Group asks what happens after the end credits of an intriguing, bloody, and strained review of the trope, with a meandering mystery at its heart that will keep you on your toes.

The Girls’ Ultimate Support Group is available from Amazon, Book Depository and other good booksellers, like your local bookstore, from July 13, 2021.

Will you pick up The Girls’ Ultimate Support Group? Tell us in the comments below!


Summary | Good reading

See also

A thrilling, fast-paced horror novel that follows a bunch of die-hard heroines, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Killing Vampires.

In horror movies, the last girl is the one left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer and avenged his friends. The one who comes out bloodied but victorious. But once the sirens have died down and the audience is gone, what happens to him?

Lynnette Tarkington is the last real-life girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she is not alone. For over a decade, she met five other real-life final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, piecing their lives back together, piece by piece. That’s until one of the women misses a reunion and Lynnette’s worst fears come true – someone knows the band and is determined to rebuild their lives, piece by piece.

But the thing about these latest girls is that they’re together now, and no matter how bad the odds are, how dark the night is, how sharp the knife is, they don’t. will never, ever give up.